Anna Marie Van Nice of Carson City just won a pageant - but please don't call her a beauty queen.
"I'm Mrs. Cleaver with a crown," she said, laughing lightly. "I'm a wife and mother first."
Van Nice was crowned Mrs. Nevada United Nation 2000 in early June. She'll compete against 49 other state winners at the Mrs. United Nation U.S. 2000 national pageant in Orlando, Fla., from Aug. 2 to 6.
The pageant, which is not affiliated with the United Nations in New York City, was founded five years ago by Sarah Boothe, a former Miss Tennessee and Mrs. Alaska. The competition celebrates married women "of all ages, shapes and sizes" who work hard for their loved-ones and their communities.
"This is the fastest growing pageant for married women in the country," Booth says, adding that "our contestants are beautiful from the inside out."
This emphasis on family and community rather than physical appearance appealed to Van Nice, who ran across the event while surfing the Internet.
"This pageant is forward thinking - there's tennis wear instead of the swimsuit competition. Unlike some pageants, which separate contestants from their families at the national competition, this one lets me stay with my husband and kids for support."
Van Nice's husband Dan works at United States Welding Corporation in Carson City. She has four children: Katria, 8; Malachi, 7; Josee, 5; and Nicholaus, 3.
"My main job is to raise the kids," Van Nice says proudly and as part of that job she's home schooling her children "at least through grade school."
"I love my children and don't want to not see them eight hours a day, five days a week. As good as teachers are, they aren't mom and dad."
Van Nice tries to dispel some of the stereotypes about home schoolers: "We're not vigilantes holed up in the hills with guns. We're normal people."
Van Nice is the newsletter editor for Northern Nevada Home Schools, Inc., a home schooling support organization based in Reno.
Besides her schooling commitment, Van Nice dances ballet about 20 to 25 hours a week at Western Nevada Performing Arts Center in Carson City. "I've loved ballet all my life," she says, adding that she'll appear in a recital of" Sleeping Beauty" at the center in October.
Van Nice's title does not require a formal platform. Instead, Van Nice says she'd like "to be there for the community in any way I can." She's available to volunteer at service organizations and charities. She'll also host or speak at events, either for free or for sponsorship donations. Donations will be used to defray pageant expenses.
Van Nice has appeared at Mor Furniture in Reno and received donations from Mor and United States Welding. Contact Boothe at (805) 493-0605 to schedule an appearance.
Van Nice readily admits she hopes to win the national competition - "I want the gold, not the silver" - but says no matter what happens, she wants to be a role model and a credit to her family and community.
"I will represent Nevada with grace, honor and the spirit which makes us all proud to be Nevadans."