My Life In Automobiles

(Just so you know, these are all stock photos. Not my real cars.)
We bought a new minivan yesterday, and as David and I were driving home with it, we were talking about the cars we've had over our lives. It brought back so many memories of my high school and college years, that I thought I'd document them in pictures. My very first car was the family station wagon. It was awful. Looking back now, I am grateful to have had something to drive but at the time--when lots of my friends had cool cars or fun cars or at least cars that weren't the color of dog poo--it was rough. By the time I got my driver's licence, our station wagon (a Plymouth Volare) was ancient. It had a battery acid stain on the hood and the engine had issues with exhaust, so that even after you'd turned off the engine it would shake and cough and rattle for another minute or two. I remember parking it in the high school parking lot and running away from it because it made so much noise.

After we buried the station wagon and my younger brother got his driver's licence, we found a little Mercury tracer compact that he and I could drive. I loved it. I eventually took it with me to college and could pack up my life and put it all in the back of this little red coupe in a matter of minutes. That car was good to me, and it made it across the country on road trips with friends and eventually to Minnesota where I chose to live after college. Unfortunately, I was hit head on by a little old lady one block from my apartment and the car was totaled. I think the little old lady had her licence revoked after that incident.

So there I was in Minnesota, without a car, the day before Christmas. I took a taxi to the airport and flew home to spend Christmas with my parents. We eventually decided that I would drive back to Minnesota in my dad's Plymouth Reliant. He and my mom had moved to Colorado and were thinking about a pick-up truck, so my dad was more than happy to pass the old sedan on to me. My dad was amazing. So I drove the grey/blue sedan back to Minnesota where it hated the winter. It barely ran when it was cold.

David entered my life (with his own automobile ghosts and issues, but that's another story) and along came Carver. We'd been married for a few years, had both been working, and actually had some money to buy a new "family" car. We bought a Saturn wagon and I was in heaven. It was reliable, comfortable, affordable, and safe for Carver. I about broke my back leaning over that back seat and taking Carver in and out of his car seat, but other than that it was a dream. Our little Saturn took us to so many places on so many road trips.
We'd had the Saturn for a few years when David's car finally became more of a nuisance than something you wanted to drive. We found an old Volvo sedan (it was actually silver) that a nice family by the University of Minnesota was selling. I kid you not when I tell you this, they took one look at Carver and came down $1,000 on the price. We bought the Volvo for so cheap we paid cash for it. It was unbelievable. It was old and had high miles, sure, but it was a Volvo. Such a great little car. Unfortunately it was with us for a very brief time. We'd had the car for only 6 months when David was in a hit-and-run accident on the highway. He was horribly rear ended, and then the people who hit him (in a stolen car) ran up the embankment and disappeared. Honestly, though, had David not been in such a safe car I think he would have been injured. He walked away without a scratch.

The Volvo accident took place a few weeks before we were moving to Colorado. David drove the Saturn to work during the day which was fine because I was home packing up our house. And in the middle of all that, we adopted Lily. David flew to North Carolina and back in one day to get Lily, and 6 days later we drove with her in a U-Haul to Colorado. It was interesting. And crazy. I have the pictures from that week to prove we did it, but it's all a blur in my mind.
Fast forward 2 years. We were living in Colorado, and we had purposely bought a house a block from the high school where David worked. We were a one car family and loving it. At the end of the day, Carver would ride his tricycle while I carried Lily, and we'd go down the street to meet David at his school and then walk back home together. I have the sweetest memories of that time. One day our phone rang and it was a Saturn dealership offering to buy our Saturn wagon. Seems they had a customer who wanted a used wagon, exactly like ours. I guess we were in the Saturn database somewhere because we weren't trying to sell it. We told them we'd be interested if they had a used Honda Odyssey we could trade it for. We'd heard that was a good, reliable van and loved the idea of more room for road trips. They did have an Odyssey, so before I knew it I was a minivan mama. Our Odyssey rocked. Loved it. Loved not bending over anymore to strap kids into car seats. Loved having more than 3 inches of space between my back and my kids' feet. Loved that they could sit in multiple places and still not be touching each other.
Our old faithful Odyssey made it to 107,000 miles and was 10 years old. I recently took it into our mechanic for basic maintenance and discovered that it was time to replace some big items. The cost of the work was going to be more than the car was really worth, so we decided to look for a new car. We wanted something newer (obviously) that would see us through the next 5 years of crazy road trips. We're planning trips to Atlanta, South Carolina, Washington D. C., and possibly Florida. So the hunt for the next family car began. I had hoped to be past the minivan stage, but with 3 kids and a dog we just don't fit into a mid-size SUV. I couldn't justify a super sized SUV because the gas mileage is so terrible, and to be honest I was scared to death to drive something that big. So it was back to the minivan. We narrowed in on a Toyota Sienna because of the good reviews and their reliability. Turns out the rest of the world likes Siennas as well, because they're hard to find used. We wanted something just a couple of years old with average miles, and in our search over a 100 mile radius we found 3 that fit our criteria. 3. Yesterday David and I drove to Denver and looked at 2 of them and settled on the one we wanted. It's a 2007, but it's tricked out with so many gadgets and features and add-ons that it feels like it's from the future. It also has a sound system like a movie theater, which David and I put to good use on our drive home.

Welcome to the family, Swagger Wagon.*
(If you've not seen the Swagger Wagon video on YouTube, I suggest you go do it now. Funniest commercial EVER!)


Worn Out
The other day my friend Vivi found her youngest on the kitchen floor like this. Completely asleep. Out cold.

I thought the picture was hysterical and could only imagine how hard her kids had played to result in a nap on the floor. Well, yesterday we had our own day filled with non-stop activity. As I was making dinner I realized my usual chatterbox was missing. Here is what I found in the office.


My Life In Pictures

I need to buy me a hat like this, because I'm a widow now. An iphone widow.

David just got himself one of these. It's his other wife.

On the last day of school, they should hand out this t-shirt to every single mom. As in, "Here are your children and here is your t-shirt proclaiming that your house is a disaster." Summer vacation--though it is glorious--is always a home wrecker.

I need to be lacing up the running shoes and start running again. But all I want to do is eat more ice cream with hot fudge sauce.

But then I dream of London and how I will be there in less than 2 years and how amazing it would be to go running in London. So I may as well get started now. I am seriously dreaming of this map of the Underground. King's Cross, here I come.

Oh, and there's the little issue having just 2 years to get my hair as long as this. I want that ponytail!


I know these pictures look like a family hike, but let's be real. This was strictly a "wear those freaking kids out so they'll sleep tonight" hike. I think it worked.


All In A Day
Yesterday was the last day of school. It was (finally) warm and sunny. It has been such a long, cold, wet spring that the end of school just snuck up on us. It sure didn't feel like summer vacation was right around the corner. But yesterday was perfect. 80 degrees and sunny. Zinabu's kindergarten class spent most of the day outside goofing off. Here he is in a water balloon toss. He took it way too seriously and got mad when his partner dropped the balloons. Somebody needs to get that kid to chill out.

And here are some of his classmates getting doused with a watering can from their teacher. Zinabu is right in the middle. You can see the back of his head.

Below is Mrs. Watson. She has been the kindergarten teacher to all 3 of my kids and she... is... awesome. I was helping in her class when Lily was in Kindergarten when I got "the call" about Zinabu. She was there the first day Z came home, bringing us dinner. She is our friend in and out of the class, and she's amazing. Zinabu could barely hold a pencil the first day of school, and now he's writing paragraphs. We love Mrs. Watson, and I cried a good long time yesterday knowing our time with her was over.
And below is Mr. Watson. He is the 1st grade teacher. And yes, he and Mrs. Watson are married. The Watsons love all our kids and have inspired them and cared for them in and out of the classroom. Mr. Watson has a Harley, and he told Carver that if he kept a good attitude and always worked his hardest, he could earn motorcycle rides. Carver needed that challenge, and we were so happy to have another role model in Carver's life that could inspire him to keep doing his best, even when it's hard. Carver earned a motorcycle ride yesterday after school. I could write a good long time about my opinions on high achieving schools with good test scores and psycho parents and average schools with average test scores and laid back families. I'll spare you my dissertation. Our school is average. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Last night we went back to school for 5th grade "graduation." I have known a lot of these kids since kindergarten, and it was a bit emotional. We were so proud of Carver. He won the music award, which is so fitting for him. He will be in orchestra in middle school (and high school), and music is what will save him from feeling discouraged when school becomes hard. Love, love, love Mrs. Lopez, his music teacher. Love her for seeing this potential in him.

We went out to dinner after the ceremony. Here I am with my now middle-schooler. I swear he was just a baby. I can hardly believe this.

Me and my darlings. (Zinabu was too busy eating a hamburger to be in the photo.) I'm trying my hardest to keep them young, but they grow despite my best efforts. My heart is so full.


So busy I can hardly see straight. So behind on blogging and keeping up with the day to day. But I'd love to share Sarah's and Tesi's great news with you. Amazing!


What do you get when your 6 year old Ethiopian is listening to The Macarena and can't hear himself sing? The following:


I know you're jealous of how I get to spend my day, but I'm so sorry. Not everyone can have a fun-filled life like mine.

The first half of my day includes standing in the snow (yes, it is snowing here) for my third track day of the week. Hip hip hooray. Frostbite on toes and blue lips. It's heavenly.

The second half of my day will be at traffic court for a speeding ticket. I can't even eat I'm so nervous. I got caught speeding in a construction zone (didn't know I was speeding... seriously!) and I have to stand before a judge and (I assume) get yelled at for being a horrible menace to society. I know you're just drooling over my agenda, but really folks. Only someone like me gets to have so much joy in one day.


A Mother's Day Note From Zinabu

Dear Mom,
My mom is the best because she helps me get to school by driving me to school in a gray van. She buys me food like apples, grapes, juice, chips, bread, bagels, english muffins, pretzels, peanuts, raisins, bananas, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, corn, and carrots. You take care of me when I'm sick. She gives me medicine. That's why my mom is the best mom in the world. Love, Zinabu.
That is word for word what he wrote to me. I fixed some spelling errors, but those are his words. The way to his heart is transportation, food, and medicine. Easy enough.


*thanks, casey.


Things you should know about today:

  • Today is World AIDS Orphan day. Did you just happen to be born in an affluent country with at least one healthy parent? Then consider yourself lucky. There are over 20 million AIDS orphans. You can go here or here to help. And that's just scratching the surface.

  • Today is Miss Lucy's 5th birthday. I can hardly believe it.

  • Today my kids have no school. Teacher work day. It's going to be cold and cloudy. We had planned to pack a picnic and go to a playground, but I don't think that's going to happen. Does eating at Taco Bell count as a picnic?

  • We miss David. Haven't seen him all week. I think he'll make an appearance tonight. I'm about ready to offer a reward for his return.

Hope your Friday is great!


Boring Post

I have no new pictures.
Nothing to tell you.
Nothing exciting happening.

We're just busy, busy, busy. The end of a school year is actually the worst time of year--especially if you're married to someone who works at a school. David's typical day this week is leave the house at 6 am and get home at 10:30 pm. It...is...crazy.

The kids have some sort of field trip, track meet, award ceremony, orchestra concert, assembly, test, or other such nonsense every single day. I'm not exactly fond of it, but there's certainly a lot going on.

School gets out in 2.5 weeks. I'm getting excited.

The birds started chirping at 4:30 this morning. I have never, ever, ever wanted a gun before, but in my sleep deprived stupor, I was tempted.


Prom Night

This has certainly been an interesting weekend: Lily's birthday party (let us not speak of it) and Lily's birthday. And last night was prom for David's high school. I have always gotten out of going with him, but I hardly saw the man this week and I figured some time with him at a high school dance was better than no time with him at all. So after getting the kids ready for bed, I met him at the hotel where the prom was being held.

Wow. I had forgotten all the insecurities and angst and hormones of high school. And the fact that the girls all look 25 and the boys look 12. And how totally unfair that most high school girls have bigger boobs than me.

David is an incredible administrator. He doesn't hang out in the lobby, barking at kids or acting disinterested. We spent the entire night in the ballroom, next to the dance floor. He mingled with the students and chatted with them. They love him.

Prom night will be a part of my life for the next several years: as long as David will be principal. I might have to invest in a fancy dress. My favorite highlights:
  • I knew a third of the music. Seriously impressed with myself.
  • Getting our picture taken with the photographer. David made me laugh so hard I about wet my pants. I'll be sure to post the picture when we get it.
  • The energy frenzy. Those kids danced non-stop for almost 4 hours.
  • Watching all the white boys try to dance to rap.
  • The girl with Down Syndrome who was there with her date and lit up when she spoke to us.
  • The relief that I am not in high school anymore. Seriously. I enjoyed high school, but the drama... Thanks but no thanks.

Next year I will remember my camera.