Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Just Might Be Rednecks

As you may or may not know, Mason and Carson are huge NASCAR fans and we credit much of their speech skills today to their watching races and wanting to memorize everything about them. You learn a lot of words when you try to repeat everything an announcer says, something that was great for my two little autistic boys. I loved how the kids became chatterboxes whenever a race came on so I started to watch a little of the races with them.

Anyway, last weekend we took the kids to a NASCAR race. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, 5 years ago I thought NASCAR was perhaps the dumbest sport on the planet. It looked to me like it was just a bunch of testosterone laden men driving really loud amped up muscle cars in circles for hours. After my experience this weekend, I have a new found respect, and yes, I dare say love, for the sport and the people who participate with it in whatever capacity.

A good friend of mine, Sabrina, works for a professional sports team selling corporate sponsorships. She sent out a couple of e-mails to see if anyone could pull some strings and make sure that we had a really great weekend. The response was overwhelming and completely unexpected.

We arrived at the track Saturday where we were picked up in the parking lot on a golf cart and wisked back to the behind the scenes stuff. I'd like to give a shout out to the Jack Daniels team and in particular Greg Lehuer VP of Red Moon Maketing for taking time out of what must be a very busy schedule to take us on our tour. We were able to tour the garage area, see all the big busses that the drivers live in, go inside the Jack Daniels car hauler, meet the pit crew for JD, see a ton of drivers just walking by, and actually meet Casey Mears, the Jack Daniels driver. He was great to take time out of his race preparations to stop, talk and sign some autographs. Thank You Casey!! We also got to meet the team owner, Richard Childress, and get photos with him. I asked him how many tires they go through in a race and he said typically 12-16 sets but as many as 20 sets (as in sets of 4). Sheesh, I bitch about how much it costs to get a new set of tires on the burb once every 5 years! I'm sure those tires they use aint cheap!

When our tour was over, we wandered around the different souvenier shops looking for t-shirts for the kids. We found perfect ones. They say "NASCAR racing, Loud and Proud"!! The shop owner was so taken by the quads that he gave the boys each a matchbox car of the 09 season and gave Amanda hair schrunchies, What a nice, generous man.

The kids saw a stripped down stock car and much to my surprise, they were allowed to get in and pretend to drive! The men who brought this car were actually race instructors looking for students (can't have any of my kids, I don't think my heart could handle watching my kid wreck) The kids had a great time in the car and got to ask the really important questions like "How hot does the car get inside?" and "What do the drivers do if they have to pee?

The answer to the first question is up to 200 degrees and the second question, well, lets say you may not want to stand too close to a driver right out of the car.

Saturday night we were treated to terrace suite passes, I have to send out a huge THANKS to Carl Cline with Stewart-Haas racing. The terrace suite was incredible! There was food, drinks, big screen monitors, cushy seats, and a 360 degree view of the track. From our vantage point we could see all down pit row with all the excitement that entails. The boys LOVED it!

After Saturday night's race was over, we were able to go down to the winner's circle on the field. The winner had been Kyle Busch. Standing outside of a roped off area, the kids just kept trying to find vantage points where they could see. One of the security guards asked if we needed her to go tell the big people to sit down so that we could see. I joked "yeah could you do that?" Next thing I knew, she was inside the ropes talking to a couple of really cute younger women. They came right over and invited us under the ropes placing my kids about 4 feet from the night's winner. One of the girls asked Mason who his favorite driver was and, being a brutally honest 6 year old, he said "Well, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the fan favorite." A few minutes later we found out that one of the girls was from Toyota racing, (one of Kyle Busch's sponsors) and the other girl was Kyle's girlfriend. So much for being politically correct huh?

Sunday was the "big race" but after our star treatment of Saturday, nothing measured up. We got gridlocked in Southern California traffic on the way to the track, thanks to a fender bender a long ways ahead. It took us 3 hours to travel 3 miles. We finally got parked in the north forty and began our trek to the speedway. I think we walked about a mile, maybe mile and a half so by the time we got to our seats, the kids were tired and hungry. We tried to energize them with food and drink but the damage had already been done. They were excited for all the pre-race pagentry and loved to hear the MC (who happened to be Hugh Laurie from "House") say "Gentlemen start your engines!!!!" The race made it through the first 5 laps but then went under caution (they have to drive slow) because of a little rain. The kids began to beg to go back to the hotel. We managed to keep them entertained until about the 60th lap of 250 and decided that we would go finish watching the race on TV in the hotel. Not quite what we had planned but the absolute best choice for four tired six year old's and their parents.

It truly was a wonderful weekend. I don't believe I've ever met so many wonderfully helpful genuinely kind people in one place. I was truly overwhelmed.

Now, off to find a bandanna so that I can make a halter top out of it, put one of my cars on blocks, and get ready for this weekend's race from Las Vegas that I'll watch with my boys on TV!

Yep, I just might be a Redneck.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Flashback

This picture always gets a good laugh! The two-and-a-half year old jammied bather is Carson. He and Mason had already been bathed and dressed when he decided that he wanted to jump in with Amanda and Jaxon. And since clothing removal would have just taken time, he decided to jump in "as is".

Oh how I love that sweet little Carson. Today, he told me that he needed his boots and socks because his feet were getting a headache. I'm really going to miss the funny things kids say. Amanda used to call the pepper "clinker salt" because I have a salt/pepper grinder combo and the peppercorns make a clinking sound when you shake them. Mason calls the first meal of the day "frekbast".

I don't think a standup comedian could hold a candle to kids.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Dodger and Angel

We have new four legged members of our family. A friend of mine needed a home for her beloved cats and I need rodent control. We have a waterfall in our backyard which seems to invite every mouse in the world to come and get a drink. Since I can't bear to kill anything (I even take spiders outside to let them go) it seems to be a perfect arrangement.
In other news, I have begun homeschooling the kids. Right now the plan is to try it out until the end of the school year and then re-evaluate. So far, we are loving the new arrangement. I had contemplated the idea of homeschool since the kids were babies and like most decisions we make as parents, I want to do the right thing for my children but I'm never 100% sure of what that is.
Wish me luck.