Wednesday, August 31, 2005
A blog fan asked for this story . . . that happened nearly a year ago. Here goes . . . as recapped in an email to my boss last Sept. . . .
I'm having to spend the night in High Point, NC. I got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, only to discover that my tire has a "key" that is needed to remove and change it. A key I do not have, and apparently was not put back in its proper place the last time my car was serviced!! So there I am on a back road pulled over in the grass with a flat tire and no way to change it, with a dead snake under the car! God sent along a helper though (I knew he would). Thanks to my random helper in a pick up truck (I don't even know his name) I hooked up with an outfit called Bill's Truck Service who sent a road crew to help. For an hour and a half they attempted to remove the flat tire, using their mobile compressed air machine, wrenches of all sorts, hammers and chisels (all of which is usually used on 18-wheelers). None of it worked! So, the crew of two cleverly tied up the whole with some type of twine (no kidding!), and assured me that this improvisation would get me a half-mile up the road to their shop. I got there alive on my "stitched tire", which they had used their mobile air compressor to temporarily inflate. It was hissing air, but it got me to the oldest, dirtiest truck stop I have ever seen (Bill's). Once there and in there garage, they broke out a blow torch, which the dude lighted with his cigarette, and vice grips and eventually manipulated the locked lug nut off. There was more banging with chisels too, in between perplexed looks and mini-conferences in Spanish between my helpers. I could only imagine what they were saying. I couldn't decide if this was helping or hurting my situation! It was a little disconcerting to have two guys banging and blow torching your car in rural North Carolina! But, in this town where there was ONLY a truck stop, no hotels and no lights, I was just trusting they could do something to get me up the road to civilization. As nice as they were being, I had no desire to spend the night with Bill's crew! They eventually got the nut off, and they were able to put my "donut" spare on (they could not patch the tire to fix it, because it had a 1-inch square hole, and they only sold 18-wheeler tires). At this point, the two workers had been helping me for more than two hours, yet Bill only charged me $25 (someone was looking out for me). I tipped my two helpers well, and hit the road, slowly, to find a tire shop. Arriving in High Point, I saw that there was no shortage of tire stores, some national names even! But, by 6 p.m., this town's businesses had ALL shut down, and I was assured the nearest tire was hours away, which would be unsafe on my donut and half mutilated lug nut at this point. So, to the Hampton Inn I went, where I noticed a belligerent guy on crutches hobbling down the middle of a four-lane highway, yelling at the top of his lungs! Was I in the Twilight Zone? Police emerged on the man, and moved the action in front of the hotel entrance where I needed to enter (and where Sim had stopped to check on me on her way home, after I called to ask her where she was, which ended up being 10 miles from me!) She drove me to pick up some dinner at Wendy's (again, someone is looking out for me). Eventually, the police arrested the deranged crutch man and cleared the way for me to secure a room around 9 p.m. So, tomorrow I will find someone to fix my tire, which may take awhile and will probably eat away most of my day. But, with any luck, my cell phone will be working if you need me!
End of email . . .
and now, the rest of the story.
I found a great deal on tires at a local-owned tire shop. So, good I decided to replace all four. After all, I was still far from home . . . what if I got another flat on one of the three other, still-locked tires. This shop needed to well past 1 p.m. to get the other three tires loose. New tires on, I departed High Point a full day and a half late. I had missed Teresa's birthday!
Thinking the terrible experience was behind me, I noticed some strange charges on my credit card. The Wet Seal . . . Rack Room Shoes . . . Gas . . . all on a card only used for work-related expenses. Seems my card was stolen on my journey, on top of everything else. Co-workers got a great kick out of this . . .and it was pretty funny . . . and the first in a series of strange travel things that happened to me over the past year spent up and down the Atlantic coast. I'll post more soon.
I'm writing this from Charleston, SC . . . from where I will leave tomorrow on a VERY SMALL plane to Norfolk. I'm betting there will be a story in that somewhere. Pray for me!
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Tonight I took Nick out for dinner after his doctors appointment. It was just the two of us. A date. Lauren was at school(cheering) and Nanny Jackie was watching Ben. We went to Ruby Tuesdays. A favorite of our family. They have a great low carb menu(turkey burger wrap...yummy). We have gone there about two times a week since we started this diet in May. About 75% of the times we go, Cal is our waiter. This guy is great. Yes, my son dropped his fork again....may we have another? No problem! Can we please have MORE napkins? Of course! My son needs a fourth cup of honey mustard sauce please. Sure thing mam. That's all you ever get from good old Cal. He even recognizes us now. When he brought us our appetizer(cheese quesadilla) he said, "I told them to leave out the tomatos because I know ya'll don't like them." Come on people, this guy is a gem!! Of course Chris thinks I only like him because he is a cutie.... I guess that don't hurt.
Little Kaden went to her checkup today. She weighed 9lbs 6oz. 21 inches long(from 20 1/2). She had scratched her eye so the doctor has given Katy medicine for that. She is still eating very well. Also, if you lay her on her tummy, she will flip herself to her back.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Ben and Kristians soccer season starts this week. Chris and I are very excited to be coaching their team for the third season. Katy is our assistant coach. She coaches at the goal. My mom was the goalie coach, but we had to fire her because she was too soft. She would tell the kids, "It's OK if the other team scores on you...see how happy it makes them". She was outta there. Katy is ruthless. She tells the kids they have to give her a dollar if they let someone score. I think she means it too. Maybe that's why we were number one last season. That's right I said #1!
I took the boys for their back to school haircuts today. Don't they look handsome? This has been a long 74 days of summer vacation. Not that I was counting or anything! Just a little more shopping(pants for Nick) and we are good to go for next tuesday. Hallelujah!!! We even picked up a few teacher bribes...I mean gifts. Well, Katy always says I'm a big suck up! I want my name to be on the top of the list for room mom!!
Sunday, August 28, 2005
On Friday, George arranged for a boys' fishing trip on the Chesapeake Bay. A work friend owns a boat with her husband, who is the captain. Lunch at the local "Famous Uncle Al's" made the day real good ol' boy outing and lots of fun. There's something pretty cool about three generations of guys spending a few ours on the bay. After getting over some Nick-style anxiety, it was a great day. Nick and Ben really got along better than ever out on the boat. Not a single display of sibling rivalry for hours . . . a record! Lot's of small and medium croakers . . . Ben seemed to catch the most, but everyone did o.k. No sea-sickness . . . thank goodness for Dramamine. It was Ben's first time out on a boat. We came pretty close to some Navy ships, tankers and huge container boats. Ben thought it was neat that we got to go under a real bridge. Nick was very serious . . . and really enjoyed the attention of our very good boat helper (I'm sure they have an official name, but I sure don't know it), Dave.
Sappy reflection time:
You really can't do enough of these experiences with your kids. You spend alot of time keeping them straight, laying down the law and breaking up fights. All necessary stuff . . . but you sure don't want that stuff to be the only memories. How many photo albums have pictures of that stuff? They remember the experiences. They are real and lasting for little guys . . . and the big ones too. Thanks for the memories, George!
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Nick had a sleepover at Chris' parents house last night. They took him out to eat and he got to spend the whole day with them today. They do this one kid at a time to minimize the fighting. They took him shopping around town (walmart, Target) and let him pick out something for himself. Well, what do you think he picked out? New rc car? No! Playstation game? No! A new DVD? No! My ten year old son came home with new safety goggles and a new nozzle for the yard hose. He was so thrilled. He put on the goggles and rushed out to the backyard and ran the weedeater. He also informed me that he put the new nozzle on the hose because the old one had a crack in it. That's my Nicky.
Chris and Teresa! Aren't we cute together? We have been together since freshman year in high school. Our first date was the weekend of my 16th birthday(I couldn't date till I was 16). We went to a movie at Military Circle mall with two other teenagers from church. He payed for the movie, popcorn, candy and soda. With money he saved up from his paper route. That's pretty good for a 15 year old(he is a year younger than me). His parents dropped us off and picked us up. That's how he rolled back in the day.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
This is Lauren. She is our 16 year old daughter. We are so proud of her. Isn't she beautiful? She is on the Varsity Cheer team at her school Indian River (The River). The same school where Chris and I met and graduated from. Almost blah blah blah years ago. Good Lord, we are getting old!!
After taking karate for eight months now, Nick has moved up enough to earn his sparring gear. Up till now all of his lessons have been on kicks, blocks, and punches. But never against another person. I can tell he is torn. On one hand the gear is REALLY cool and he gets to add on another lesson night. But on the other hand he realizes, it's not just hitting other people , but getting hit yourself. The head instructor of his dojo, Soke Scott, came up to him and gave him his gear and really got him pumped up to come to Friday Night Fights, as he calls it. As most people know, our Nick is a very cautious kid. So we will update after Friday and tell you how it went.
Just looked out my window and saw this. I cleaned out the kids closets
to see what clothes fit so I could go back to school shopping . Now, I am usually real good about dropping off our old clothes at the Union Mission thrift store. But, since tomorrow is trash day I just threw them in the can to get rid of them quickly. These are my neighbors taking the bags out of the can and digging in. Note to self....call the realtor in the morning.
Just wanted to update everyone on the new arrival in our family. Kaden Eliza Vasconcellos. She is now 3 weeks old. She weighs 9lbs. Sleeps through the night (most of the time). Eats ALOT!! We all fight over who is going to hold her. So there is no chance at all that she's not going to be spoiled ROTTEN!! But that's how it should be. Right?
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
My sister Katy. I know... shes kinda plain huh? And very camera shy too........ NOT! She's ONE HOT MAMA! Eventhough you need sunglasses from the glare on those teeth. hahaha She set up the ringtone on my phone so that when she calls me it says..A BEAUTIFUL GIRL CALLING...A BEAUTIFUL GIRL CALLING.
This is a picture of my mom (Karen) and my sister (Katy). They are also my friends. They are my best friends. They are my only friends. Just kidding. We talk at least 3 times a day. See each other at least once a day. Call each other when we are going anywhere. Is this normal? I think it is. Although my husband thinks we have issues. hahaha
You have to know this first. In order to save money, I flew from Newport News to Atlanta and back for a one-day trip (even though Norfolk is really closer).
Everything was going great . . . The trip down actually arrived early, and I was able to make my team's regular conference call check in by cell phone while waiting to pick up a volunteer coming to the same meeting. The day stayed on time, which was unexpected since we were shooting video, which always goes long. I actually made it to the Atlanta airport with more than an hour to spare (usually, I'm scrambling to make my flight). Everything looked great, all indicators pointed to an on time trip. Until, the departure time on the red board started adding a few more minutes every 10 minutes or so. Not a good sign. Then, the sound all Atlanta travelers fear: rain on the roof . . . and then, some thunder. Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world (Pastor Trueblood once said "To go to heaven, you have to go through Atlanta"). And even a brief storm that stops traffic for just a few minutes causes planes and crews all over the country to get out of whack. After several more changes in departure time, they finally gave in. CANCELLED showed on the screen. Then, the race for the customer service line. Glancing at the status boards, more and more flights were beginning to flash CANCELLED . . . not good . . . have to hurry . . . line will get very long . . . everyone will need help . . . next plane will fill up . . . uggghhhh!!!! Now . . . a long, long, long line for help. People are starting to get mad. Some are yelling at the air staff (I really don't understand that, but it always happens during weather delays. Granted, there are plenty of times those knuckleheads deserve a few stern words, but I'm fairly certain they have not been granted thunderstorm control yet). Of course, by the time I made it to the front, all seats to Newport News were filled until the next day. Wait, there is a Norfolk flight not full. Could I go there? Sure . . . It was 7:45 (3+ hours since I arrived at the airport) The Norfolk flight leaves at 7:44, he said. But it's a little late (great, a delay that is helping me now). Hurry, he says, and you should make it. I was on Concourse C, . . . Norfolk flight on Concourse T, gate 1. About as far away as possible. In Atlanta, C to T requires two long walks and a multiple-stop train ride. Off the train, I sprinted to the Gate . . . 8, 7 , 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. New depart time: 9:00. Well, guess I didn't have to run.
9:00 - 5+ hours at the airport. Blackberry died long ago . . no more juice. No way to pass time answering emails. Can't call home. Will need a ride . . . my car is in Newport News. I wanted Norfolk in the first place! Good thing I saved all that money! Oh, good. Now, estimated departure is 9:30. Seems the plane is somewhere, diverted around storms. Took a trip down concourse T to look at the PalmOne store to see cool new tech stuff.
9:15 Trying to call Teresa . . . will need a ride . . . don't know when . . . she's not too good at the airport pick-up thing. Bought a calling card, but the family just picks up the phone and hangs up, they think it's a telemarketer. Someone, please talk to me . . . I'm gonna need a ride.
9:30 Got Teresa. She'll watch the computer and come get me when the planes almost landing. We'll worry about my car later. New estimated departure is 10:00. The Time magazine I bought is all read out. So is the Newsweek and Money. Oh yeah, I bought dinner too and dropped my drink on the floor. A real nice lady in the Popeye's fixed me a new one real quick . . . I probably looked like I was on the edge.
10:00 6+ hours at the airport. Departure time now reads 10:45. I'm on my 6th Dramamine of the day, which started at 5 a.m. I keep taking them because I have to make sure they kick in before I take off. . . very motion sick prone, even with all the flying. Have to keep taking it to keep up the effect, in case one of the departure times happens. Maybe mixing it with a Grande at Starbucks will help . . . Starbucks consumed, now I'm feeling antsy.
10:30: New departure time: 11:00. Ohh. the torture. You can't trust those stupid red signs anymore, I think. Their times mean nothing! They have been toying with me since before 4 p.m. with slowly increasing departure times. Bored, I've checked out all the bathrooms on Concourse T now. Funny, they are the only ones in this whole airport (I've seen 'em all), that do not have the automatic flushing toilets. The mirrors reveals that I look like someone who has spent hours wandering the airport. Yikes.
11:00: Yeeehaaa the plane is "in range" . Looks like we're going to make it (of course, the first Newport News plane was reported "in range" once too. We'll see. 11:05 . . . 11:15 departure. But, guess where: Concourse A!!! Hurry again (couldn't they have changed the gate sometime earlier in our 3-hour stay on concourse T? How ironic that this day full of waiting would twice now require me to, ... well . . . , hurry. Back to A (this time a long walk - quick train ride - and another short walk). The plane is there. We're going to make it!
11:40: (Around 8 hours at the airport) we're airborn!!! Hitting the bed around 2 a.m., I'm three hours removed from 24-straight hours since I began this journey at this very bedroom. Gotta get a little sleep . . . Lauren needs to be at school by 8 for cheerleading and I have three conference calls before noon . . . and a car in Newport News.
Have you ever bought a piece of clothing for your kid that you really didn't like, but they were bugging you so much you gave in? Well I did just that with Ben. First off you need to know that Ben loves cars. He really, really loves cars. All cars. He has hundreds of matchbox, every RC car made. Car puzzles, books about cars. Playstation and computer car games. His favorite thing to do is drive to the dealerships around town and get out and go from car to car checking out all the features. Well that being said, we were shopping at Target(the most wonderful store in the universe), and I was looking through the boys section. Ben was very restless. He hates clothes shopping. He couldn't care less what I buy for him to wear. He was just along because we have a deal that if he lets me shop without causing a scene, he gets a new matchbox car(at 79cents this is a bribe I can deal with). Well up on the wall was this UGLY SHIRT!! I mean army green(I don't like that color) with a huge yellow HUMMER on the front of it and the words..LIKE NOTHING ELSE written in black. Ben's eyes lit up! His dream come true. Clothes ....with cars....WOW, he said. Please buy it for me. You don't even have to buy me the matchbox car. All I want is THIS SHIRT!! THIS SHIRT is the best shirt I have ever seen. I will wear THIS SHIRT everyday(yikes). PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!! Well now you need to know something about me. I hate shirts with pictures on them. That's just my rule. I have never bought my children clothes with pictures on them. No cartoons, comic book characters or big writing on anything. Simple, preppy is more my style. And mostly navy, red and white. So this shirt went against every fiber of my being. It was just plain UGLY. You know, like white trash UGLY. But, you can guess what happened. I bought it. I figured I would let him wear it around the house only. Maybe even lose it in the wash. I usually pick out my kids clothes in the morning and you can bet that it will never be layed out on my watch. But, like this morning, whenever I forget to get their clothes together for them. Or I am gone and Dad is in charge, Ben will come bouncing down the stairs announcing," I dressed myself mommy" and I know before he rounds the corner what he will have on. HUMMER!!
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
This is a picture of Kristian and Ben taking a bath together(bathing suits on). They were laughing and splashing for awhile but after a quiet minute I went in to check and found them like this. We didn't add any soap... We promise.... they said. Good grief. The crazy thing is, they are actually standing up in this picture. Chris and I had to wrap them in a towel and rush them to another bathroom to shower off the suds.
Ours sons Nick and Ben have been taking karate since January and they love it. The school is called Karate for Christ and it is great. Nick takes it very seriously(imagine that). He practices his forms and verses daily with the most intense sneer on his face. Making e v e r y m o v e JUST RIGHT! I keep having to remind him to smile and relax. While Ben on the other hand is very casual about his classes. He bounces in the dojo on his tippy toes(at 6 he still walks on his toes), kicks off his shoes, and is ready to have fun. Smiles the entire time and makes every move look effortless. Check them out: (http://www.karateforchrist.net/)
Monday, August 22, 2005
This morning our middle child Nick came leaping in my bed at 8:ooam(this is early in the summer for me). He informed me that he made waffles for breakfast. This is not a surprise coming from Nick. This is a ten year old who's favorites shows are 30 minute meals and Iron chef America. He said he made two for me two for him and two for his brother Ben. I told him it was really thoughtful but, we were both still asleep. I would be down in a few minutes, if that was ok. He said sure and darted out of the room. I was wanting to try these new 4 carb waffles I bought so I got up and came down about 15 minutes later and there were no waffles anywhere. Just crumbs and sticky counters. After investigating I found a paper plate in the trash with about an inch of syrup clinging to it and the empty syrup bottle(which was unopened before this morning). I asked Nick what the deal was. He said he ate them all. They wouldn't be good cold anyway. He could make more for us if we want. Besides, he said, I skipped breakfast yesterday. So eating 6 waffles was ok. What is the deal with kids and this logic? All 3 of my kids will try to pull this on you. They wake up at 11:00 and eat. Then after dinner they ask...what did I have for breakfast? Nothing dear, you were asleep. Well then I need something else to eat beacause I need 3 meals in the day. Nevermind they ate enough that day to keep a trucker going for 24 hours.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came out July 16th at midnight. My uncle Jim(we grew up together so we are more like brother and sister), his wife Beth and their two kids Jaime and Joey came to visit over that weekend. Seeing as his kids and mine are all Potter fans a late night book release party was a must. We went to Broadstreet Books in Ghent. They had crafts(wands, brooms and hats) an animal show(rat, snake, lizzard, owl, turantula) and snacks(bertie botts beans, butter root beer and chocolate frogs). Of course the best part was the midnight countdown and getting the book(me and my sister Katy finished all 652 pages in 48 hours). I couldn't believe Chris came with us. Seeing as he is the most conservative muggle I know. He did try to read the books one time at my insistence, but quit before finishing book one. President biographies are his favorites. So I guess it just wasn't boring enough for him. lol. We were shocked when he put on the boys costume at the party and posed for a picture with me.
When you have several kids, fair is a big deal. They are very aware of what the others are getting, and they want equal share! When your kids are very different in age, the young ones are in No Fair mode alot. Well Ben is the baby, and he is feeling very slighted this weekend. Nick has steady grass-cutting income now, which allows him to have access to quite a bit of pocket change. Yesterday, he bought a new PS2 game. So, Ben started demanding a trip to Toy Works. "If Nick got something, then I should get something," was his plea. We explained that Nick has a job . . . responsibility . . . some benefits etc etc. Ben didn't get it. Totally upset. For a couple of days now. So, we've put Ben on the payroll. It wouldn't teach him much to just give him stuff, huh? He was charged with cleaning a very messy garage. Complete that, and Ben would earn some cash. He was actually pretty excited about this. Got him working, like his brother. He spent a good deal of time in the hot garage. He reported back in the house looking pretty pleased with himself. He was sweating, ("awwweee, look at how hot he is," mom says). He showed us the spider webs and dirt on his hands and told us how he had to get low under some stuff. We'll pay up after an inspection. Next, I guess we'll be teaching him how to manage the money he'll be earning . . . Tithing and saving teaching is an opportunity now.
Guess we're all like Ben in some ways. We want some stuff. We (or some of us) eventually figure out to get it we need to do some work. So, Ben is entering that lifelong cycle . . . want stuff . . . work . . . get stuff. Next challenge: a healthy approach to this simple cycle that gets so many in trouble. This parenting is some pretty serious stuff. Lauren's looking at clothes on the computer now. We'll tie that to clean bathrooms and vacuuming!!!
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Chris, Nick, Ben, Kai and Kristian went out to the car show at Khedive Temple. Lots of cool cars, but too hot to stay long. Kai looked like he was going to melt. A stop at 7-11 cooled everyone off. New Frawg slurpees for the kids. Did I mention it was HOT!
Friday, August 19, 2005
Our next door neighbor is Teresa's mom Karen. Some funny stuff about her.
Let's start with her cell phone. It's funny how often you call her and
it's off. Why do people turn off a cell phone? Isn't that why you have
it? To always be able to get a call. Friends confirm this is a common
problem with their parents.
The other day, her phone was ringing. So unfamiliar with the ring tone,
she thought it was the ice cream man and busied herself trying to keep the
kids from hearing it so she wouldn't have to buy anything! And charging
the thing is a challenge too. “ It won't keep the charge” she kept saying.
Turns out plugging the power chord into the ear plug does not work. She's
great though ... Makes good meatlaf and lasagna ... And is pretty good as a
neighbor. The other in-laws live two streets over. More on them later.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Teresa and Kaden at the Hospital. Kristian and Kai got a new sister on Aug. 2.
Our niece, Kaden, has arrived! As always, a baby is a big hit around here. Teresa has spent many hours adouring the new baby . . . whose chord she got to cut. Everyone says she doesn't look like a newborn . . . whatever that means?? She has been staying next door, so everyone is getting plenty of time with her. Nick and Ben are really fascinated by their new cousin, and love to hold her. Ben is never still . . . except when he is holding the baby. Then, he gets dead serious, obviously understanding how fragile Kaden is, constantly staring at her. There is somethiing pretty cool about seeing your six-year-old holding your newborn niece. And, of course, Nick is very attentive as is his nature.
Kristian, Ben and Nick are happy after ice cream at the Dockside Dairy
Near daily trips to the Dockside Dair were among the highlights of our week at Lake Gaston. After some action-packed vacations, this one was several notches down the activity meter . . . which ended up being very nice. Mornings on our dock fishing, swimming and boating, afternoon trips to the little dairy and feeding catfish dogfood were about as fast paced as it got. There was not even cell or internet service available. But, there was satellite tv, a big screen for movies and visits by Nanny Jackie and George and Kristian. We also bought some fireworks and played ping-pong and foosball.
LAUREN IN COSTA RICA
It's official. Lauren has already WAY surpassed her parents in world travel. She's real passionate about central America, and this year's Costa Rica trip, with a lot work with that country's kids, marks her second central America mission in 2 years (Guaemala last year). We got to see video from the trip . . . Lauren and the rest of the kids are really maturing in their good work. Bobby and Katherine and LendAHand (www.lendahandmissionteams.org) really make it all happen .
Ben Rock Climbing at VBS
Vacation Bible School was a blast. Rock climbing in the parking lot was a big hit. Ben, in the picture, wants to go do it at "real place" now. Kristian and even Kai gave it a try too. Not surprisingly, Nick passed . . . looked a little too dangerous for his liking. Shameless pitch for our lovely church who put this all on: www.parkwaytemple.org
Chris, Teresa, Lauren, Nick, Ben and Shorty the Dog