The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
December 2017

Sunday, November 30, 2014

We Got Ourselves a Jarvis

Ever seen Iron Man? You know how Paul Bettany has that awesome role where you never get to see his face but you get to hear his cute British voice play the part of Tony Stark's brilliant and pretty much self-aware computer? His name is Jarvis. I guess we love those movies at our house and especially the dry humor and wry comments tossed out by Jarvis. Bitty threw out the suggestion that we name our new car Jarvis, and when she did, my head exploded. With joy. Seriously!! Can you think of a more fun name for a car?

After bidding goodbye to Daisy and doing some car shopping we ended up welcoming a Toyota Sienna minivan into our family. We were trying to decide between a white one and a red one. By the time we were down to choosing between these two cars Bitty had already suggested this car name and I'm going to be honest. I had to try really really really hard to not want the red car just so it would be a better fit for the name Jarvis. I had to just trust Troy to pick which car would actually be better for us so that I wouldn't keep finding random reasons to choose the red one. I'm so blessed to have a wise, patient, clear-thinking husband. And happily, for reasons completely unrelated to color, we picked the red van. And immediately christened him Jarvis. Perfect.

Well....I guess there's one little problem. It's been really fun to have bluetooth in the car but....the voice that comes out the speaker system is a lady's voice. Not even British. I just have to kind of pretend I'm hearing Paul Bettany's voice every time she talks to me. Don't worry, this is something I can do. He's a very good actor; I'm sure he could pull off American Bluetooth-Voice Woman.

In all seriousness, I'm so grateful to have a good car for our family. I'm grateful that it's comfortable and smooth to drive and has room for friends. I look forward to the many journeys we'll have together.

 Jarivs, welcome.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Daisy's Demise

As it turns out, one or two of us in this family just may be the tiniest bit sentimental.  Just wait, you'll see.

I believe that this past August marked the four-year anniversary of the day we welcomed Daisy into our family.  Who's Daisy, you ask?  Well, maybe I can clarify by telling you that her other name is Ellie.  Does that help? Okay, final hint.  On any given day in a Costco parking lot you may have seen my little Skippidy running for her, yelling, "Ellie!" and throwing her arms around her.  Well, least as far around as a toddler's arms can go around a minivan.  Yes, Daisy is...(was) our Kia Minivan, much beloved by our family.  She took us a lot of places.  Seattle three times, Disneyland, the Uinta Mountains ...and most importantly safely around our city of salt for four good years.

Then Tuesday happened.

I had just left work (I'm working at an elementary school as a kindergarten aide a couple of days a week) and had pulled into Foothill village to treat myself to a little lunch.  EastWest Connection makes a great Vietnamese Noodle Salad.  Make sure to get the peanut sauce along WITH the vinaigrette, by the way.  Anyway, I picked up my salad, I trotted off to my car, I buckled up, I pulled up to a stop sign.  I waited for my turn to go.  I turned left up a hill....and....a rather elderly driver came speeding down the hill, wasn't planning on stopping so he had to slam on his brakes.  Only instead of his brakes he slammed on his gas, swerved around the stopped car in front of him and straight for me.

Airbags.  The Kia gets slammed back 20 feet back down the road.  I may have blacked out for a few seconds. The next thing I know, I'm looking down at my arms, scraped up from the airbags, acrid smoke filling the car, thinking, yes, this actually just happened.

It was really fun.

Actually there were many blessings, such as the fact that I was alone in the car - no kids to be traumatized or worse, injured.  And the fact that two people whom I actually know came running out of their nearby office and helped me handle everything - called 911, helped the elderly man who looked like his nose was broken, took names and numbers and even helped me clean out my car.  (Not embarrassing at all.) I have friends who helped me by picking up the kids and caring for them.  We have been treated very well by the other driver's insurance.  I am not seriously hurt - just some achy muscles and scraped arms.  It really really could have been worse.

But I was a little sad about my car.

It was not surprising when we got the news that the damage was beyond repair.  I guess overall that's good news - it can be scary I guess to drive a car that has been so severely damaged - who knows if the repairs will have any issues and what if another accident happens?  Will you still be safe?  So deep down, I knew it was coming and I knew it was probably a good thing.  Here's where the sentimentality comes in.

After we got the car all cleaned out - luckily I carry plenty of reusable shopping bags for just such an emergency as needing to unload every bit of miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam from my car in one fell swoop - and after all the paperwork was completed and Troy took his shaken wife home, I had a realization.  I thought I had checked every nook and cranny for stuff.  But I remembered suddenly one forgotten cranny.  It was the sunglasses pocket conveniently located on the ceiling above the driver's left ear.  This is convenient until you crash your car and can't remember how to make your legs walk properly, much less where all the little storage spots in your car are.  This wouldn't have been a big deal except that I knew exactly what was in that little pocket. Three small simple items. A rock.  A chestnut.  A toy soldier, burnt half away by a campfire.

Why the heck would I even remember these random objects?  What meaning could they possibly have?  What would be so important about them that would compel me to drive all the way to the wrecking yard to fetch them? I'll tell you.  Each of these objects represents one of my children and not only do their physical attributes remind me of each child, but the method of acquisition in each case tells a great deal about what makes me love them so.

The rock is in the shape of a heart.  It's one of the best heart-rocks I've ever seen.  It represents my Bitty.  She and I found it together while we were at She-and-Me girl scout camp a year ago.  We had such a magical overnighter together where I was able to give her my full and complete attention, which she craves.  As we were walking together along a mountain path she leaned over and picked it up, coming up with some totally Bitty-ish phrase about it being a perfect symbol of our time together.

The chestnut represents my Skippidy.  She and her daddy went for a walk one night and happened to pass by a chestnut tree.  It was fall, and the tree was littering the ground with its spiky balls, each containing the secret of a delightfully round, smooth and hard chestnut.  Bitty found them to be entrancing, and collected as many as she possibly could gather.  Troy could see her delight and wanted to help her create something with them so we didn't end up with just a big pile of chestnuts in her room.  She decided she wanted to make a necklace for me, and she and Troy spent the next hour or so in the garage working on this secret gift.  I will never forget the absolute glow in Skippidy's eyes as she scampered in with her surprise.  My necklace weighs about three pounds but I still have it in my drawer, and keep one of the stray chestnuts in my collection.

Lastly, the soldier.  This is an ancient toy, barely even green anymore. He's lying on his stomach, rifle clutched and steadied at the enemy.  He has a steely gaze and a resolute grip.  Stomper ...I think....found him in the mountains while we were camping with the Preslar family last year.  Stomper had a ball with him, playing out the soldier's war story with heartfelt imagination.  Sadly for the soldier, his story did not end well.  In fact, it ended in the camp fire.  I think Stomper really wanted to see what it would look like as he melted away.  He was fascinated and approached the flames multiple times getting ready for the soldier's last foray into danger.  Finally, Stomper asked his dad for help, so Troy set him on a burning log surrounded by flames and Stomper settled down to watch the show.  It only took a few minutes before the legs started to blacken and soften, the face to bubble with heat. It was in those same minutes that Stomper's heart was softened and touched and he absolutely dissolved into tears.  Troy grabbed some tongs and the soldier was quickly rescued, cooled in a nearby stream then handed back to his repentant owner.  Stomper cared for him as well as any injured vet could be cared for.  Well, until he kind of forgot about him a few days later and I found the toy while tidying up the playroom.  I was temped to toss the rather grotesque little thing along with other bits of playroom sludge but just couldn't bring myself to do it.  Now he resides with his friends the heart rock and the chestnut.

Sentimental to the core, I tell you.  See why, upon realizing that these little treasures had been hauled to a wrecking hard, I had to go on a rescue mission?  I tried to tell myself that they were just silly little bits of nothing...but that was so not true and I felt sick about them until I retrieved them.

And you think that was overly sentimental of me?  Then you'll really think I'm over the edge when I tell you that it broke my heart to see our family van all bashed up.  And alone.  And dirty.  Sitting in that lot, the hood unceremoniously left open in such an undignified manner.  The doors gaping, she just looked lonely and abandoned. I fetched what I could find inside (for the record: one screwdriver and a pair of socks,) and walked away, feeling like I was absolutely betraying her and trying to hold back tears as I walked away.  How could I just leave her wounded and alone like that in that horrible dusty yard?

I told you we're a sentimental bunch.  I have kept Daisy's key ring.  I firmly believe  that the spirit of Daisy/Ellie lives on and lingers near by.

Monday, November 03, 2014


So October....happened.  You know, like ALL of October.  It just flew on by - one big giant whirlwind of holiday/birthday/PTA fundraiser/cooking meals for teachers.....I'm just going to leave it at this.  It was a really really busy month.  I don't think I can find a word that could sum it up besides...


I've been looking forward to Monday, November 3rd for a few weeks now, knowing that by this date, all the wonderful schedule-packing, late-night-inducing work would be done.  It's really not worth making list of it all, but I'm kind of tempted just to remember how it all fit in. Then again, at this point I'm pretty much just ready to move on and go to bed.

Now my job is to get blogging and capture a few of October's highlights. Shall we start with how it ended?  Halloween!

Something that I both love and dread about my children's relationship with Halloween is that they each seem to see it as a time for them to truly transform into some character they've always wanted to be.  Never do they choose to dress up as any sort of generic or classic Halloween character such as "A Cowgirl" or "A Fireman."  Oh how I'd love that.  Then again, if they did, I'd miss their ravenous excitement over transforming themselves into a character they've dreamed of and just really thoroughly imagined becoming.

This year Stomper renewed his respect and awe for The Cap.  You know, Captain America.  He was Steve Rogers for Halloween in fourth grade as well, and that year I had a much younger Skippidy who didn't let me work on costumes so much during the day, so I have clear memories of staying up until about 3:00 am one night sewing cut-up t-shirts together to create his Captain America shirt.  (No store-bought polyester jumpsuits with printed muscles for this kid.)  This year he wanted his costume to reflect The Cap's updated look from the new movie which came out in the spring.  This was happy for me because the new costume bore no sewing-nightmare red and white stripes, just a dark shirt with a few designs.  Now, this didn't mean that I was able to save myself from sewing late into the wee hours but it wasn't quite so challenging. Of course, literally on the day I finished his shirt, the new trailer for the next Avengers movie came out and what did I see?  Captain America with a red-and-white-striped torso again.  DOH!!  I had to tell Stomper that it was too late, I could not keep up with The Cap's costume changes.  No stripes.

I was laughing as I joked with a friend about how nutty we moms can be by dreaming up costumes and sacrificing sanity, sleep and our general health to put them together.  What got really funny though was when I saw on Halloween that the challenge I took on was pretty much sewing a silver star on my son's t-shirt, while the challenge she was referring to was turning her entire family into the cast of How To Train Your Dragon - amazing costumes.  Not for the beginner seamstress like myself.  All I could do was a star, but you know what, I did it and that makes me awesome.

Only 5/7ths of the costumes are depicted here - one daughter is missing, plus my friend also has a costume for herself to transform into a Viking Queen.  Like I said, amazing

Speaking of awesome...Bitty.  She is like my mom.  She just adores taking on the worst villain she can think of every Halloween.  A Dementor, Bellatrix LeStrange....  This year?  Mystique of X-Men fame.  She's really horrid and mean.  Oh yeah, and also...she's blue.  All blue.  And in the movies is basically just naked.  I had concerns.  Bitty let me know that there's a cartoon in which Mystique wears a white dress over all her blueness so I googled "Mystique" to get a good look at what I was up against. A word of caution:  it's not a good idea to google female comic book characters while your children are near.  Woweee!!  Mystique is one minxy woman and my children are not allowed to have any comic books ever.  But since she's only familiar with the character through a cartoon tv show adjusted more for children, I let her go ahead and dream away.  Yes, I turned my daughter blue for Halloween.

Skippidy's costume was my dream costume this year.  She has this pair of ruby slippers - just mary janes with lots of glitter attached.  It's actually her third pair and she wears them almost every single day, no matter what else she is wearing.  Even this morning she wore them over hot pink ankle socks and with a black and white zebra-striped skirt.  I am not in charge of her wardrobe.  Anyway, I couldn't have been more thrilled that Skippidy took my subtle hints that she would make the perfect Dorothy this year.  All I had to say was that she could wear her ruby slippers and she was sold.  I quickly found her a $7 Dorothy dress at Kid-to-Kid and crossed my fingers that she wouldn't change her mind the day before Halloween.  I was actually pretty surprised that she never wavered from her decision to dress as Dorothy, and I thought she looked completely adorable.  Phew.  Easiest costume ever.

Our school holds a Halloween carnival every year, and it's always scheduled for the Friday before Halloween.  Well guess what. This year Halloween was actually on a Friday.  This meant that the carnival was a full week before the actual holiday.  I don't think I've ever had costumes done so early before, and it created a bit of stress for me trying to get everything done by the 24th.  Not to mention that my sweet hubby was going to be gone all that week plus Stomper had a birthday party the next day.... but that's for the next post.

Because it was such a completely busy week, and Troy was gone...I totally forgot about carving our pumpkins!  We went to all the trouble of growing them (which consisted not of us planting them but merely not cutting down the vines that grew there on their own) and then I almost forgot to turn them into jack-o-lanterns!  So at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday night, I halted Bitty from her homework (which was finished in tears the next morning at breakfast....great week, seriously) and we trotted outside to pick pumpkins off the porch.  I don't think we've ever had such a fast carving session but the kids didn't care.  As always they were absolutely giddy as they designed and scooped and carved.  Happily Stomper and Bitty are getting big enough to do some of that themselves so it was a little easier.

Skipped said she was making a Wicked Witch to go with Dorothy - she drew the face all by herself and I just couldn't love it any more than I do.  It kind of looks like a crying snowman.

Bitty and Stomper had fun exploring 3D ears and fangs

Despite the pressure created by having an early carnival, having actual Halloween on a Friday was heaven on earth for me - we weren't worried about bed times, we had some time after school to hang out and get real snacks and take some time to get dressed. Loved that. Then we did as we always do and started our evening with Troy's parents.  We love our tradition of the Grandparent-Halloween-Kick-Off each year, stopping by a few of the houses on their circle.  I can't believe that I literally see those neighbors just once a year.  It makes Halloween feel like it comes around more often than it does.

After visiting the same four houses we do every year, we hugged Grandma and Grandpa and zoomed back to our neighborhood for dinner with friends and then we hit the streets.  What a perfect Halloween night it was.  I don't think we've had such a warm Halloween pretty much ever.  I'm so used to worrying about dressing the kids in layers and their toes getting cold and bringing gloves that it was a little disorienting to just be strolling around in nothing but long sleeves and enjoying the wonderful avenues which were absolutely packed with hoards of costumed trick-or-treaters.  We enjoyed the company of dear friends and especially loved our stop at this house that has build the most charming fairy village in their garden I have ever seen.

Ironically, everyone was completely worn out by about 7:45.  With all the blessing of a non-school night preceded by long empty afternoon, you would think we would have pounded the streets a little longer but I was only too happy to get home and begin to sponge off my children and tuck them into bed after another wonderful Halloween

Well, that was supposed to be about three different blog posts.  Oh well.