Monday, December 29, 2008

Family and Friends at Christmas

By far, the best part about our five day Christmas vacation was the extra time spent with family and friends. Last Tuesday night, we went to our friends Charles and Laura's for our traditional Christmas gathering with them and Chad's mom Joan, Chad's brother Mark, his half-brother Jonathan, and all of the significant others and children. It's definitely a Christmas celebration that we look forward to every year! Great food, great company, great presents (Joanie gave me the remaining three books in the Twilight series, one of which I've already finished)--it's always a great time!

On Christmas Day, my best present arrived via US Airways from California--my brother Eric! Although he was pretty pooped from his day of travel after just a few hours sleep, we still had a nice time with him and Mom and Cliff--eating, opening presents and playing some of the new Wii games we got for Christmas! This game Joanie gave us called WarioWare: Smooth Moves is absolutely the weirdest thing you've ever seen, but it's also flipping hysterical! My stomach hurt from laughing--as well as hula hooping on the new Wii Fit!

I got to hang out with Eric a little on Friday and Saturday, although I will say that he slept during many of my waking hours as he adjusted to our time zone and recovered from staying out all night with college friends! On Saturday, the houseguest total went up to 3 as we spent the afternoon and evening with our nephews Miles and Quinn. We played battleship, did some drawing and coloring, played Wii games, played with our old Fisher Price airport and farm, ate pancakes and sausage for dinner, read a story and watched Wall-E before bed. It was my first time to see the movie, but the boys had seen it no less than 20 times, I'm sure! The movie was pretty cute--a fun Christmas present from our sis-in-law Jen (whose birthday is today, by the way--happy b-day Jen!).

After taking the boys home to Kansas City on Sunday morning and spending a couple of much needed hours at the Humane Society, we welcomed new houseguests--our great friends Jake and Amber! We hadn't seen them since their move at the end of July, so we were very excited about their visit. Although it was way too short, we had such a fun evening, which was dominated by playing various games on the Wii while enjoying their wonderful company and conversation. I was so sad to see them leave this morning!

Although the holidays can be crazy busy, the joys of seeing family and good friends make all the craziness worthwhile! :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's a little late on Christmas day to be wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, but Merry Christmas anyway! In case you didn't receive a Christmas card from us this year, here is a picture of one of our cards. Consider this the online version!

I was a big slacker on blogging several days last week just because we were consumed with finishing these Christmas cards. Why I put those darn things off until the last minute every year, I'll never know. Thankfully, they hit the post office last Friday and should have arrived at their final destinations earlier this week. They were certainly more timely than this Christmas greeting! I hope everyone had a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Early Christmas

Although it's only Christmas Eve, I feel like Christmas day has come and gone because we've had so many celebrations with family members already! On Saturday, Chad's parents Mark and Ginny came from Salina and his brother Mark and sister-in-law Jen came from Kansas City with our nephews. We had a nice afternoon of eating Chad's awesome chili and opening presents. I hadn't spent nearly enough time with my nephews in the last 6 months because my weekends were so filled up with walking, so I was so glad to see them. It was great hanging out with them for the day!

Miles and Quinn got a ton of Legos from Grandma and Grandpa, so much of the afternoon was spent putting together their new creations. Actually it involved Miles (who is 6 1/2) putting together the little Lego vehicles while Quinn (who is 3 1/2) sat and watched. I was amazed at Miles' incredible concentration, determination and attention to detail when putting together these tiny little Lego pieces. He was so focused! The cutest thing was that he spent so much time putting together his little helicopter, with Quinn watching patiently the entire time, but as soon as he was finished he passed the toy off to Quinn to play with. Miles was all about the creative process and not really about the finished product!

Miles, Jen and I also had a rousing game of Sorry!--which I hadn't played for at least 20 years. It was pretty fun and I can see why Miles wanted it for Christmas! He wasn't too keen about getting kicked back to the start square throughout the game, but Jen made him finish the game even when he was losing to practice his good-sportsmanship skills. He was so cute when he gave Jen a handshake and told her "good game" when it was all over!

Here are just a few of my favorite pictures from the day.

Miles is enjoying the dogs much more than he used to!

Quinn was trying to contain his excitement about presents.

Miles is excited about the massive Lego set!

Quinn is excited about all of the Home Alone movies!

Miles seemed to like his dinosaur building kit.

Quinn is tearing into his Legos!

We had a great day with Chad's family and I of course had a great time taking pictures of the boys. I will admit though, I was pretty exhausted when they left! Being with kids takes the kind of energy that we're not so used to expending! :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Lesson in Humility

Yesterday Chad and I braved the ridiculously cold temperatures and went to Jack's after church to watch the Steelers game. The Steelers lost, which was slightly depressing, but not nearly as depressing as a conversation that I had with the hostess. This girl was likely in college--I would have guessed her to be 19 or 20. Here's how our conversation went:

Hostess: Do you by chance have a daughter named Alex?

Me: No, sorry, I don't.

Hostess: Oh, I thought maybe you did because you look just like one of my friends.

Ouch. Seriously, that hurt. She clearly thought I was the mother of someone who is probably between the ages of 18 and 21!!! Do I really look like I could be old enough to have a college aged child???? ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Help--I think I need a makeover!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Hula Hooper

We were watching one of our saved episodes of AFV this weekend and it happened to be the $100,000 finals episode. One of my favorite all time videos was up for the grand prize, and although it didn't win, it still made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. Check out this little guy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beautiful Sunset

On Friday as I was driving home from work I could barely keep my eyes on the road because of the gorgeous sunset to my west. I was trying to get home as fast as possible because all I could think about was running inside, kissing my husband hello, and then running back outside with my camera to try and capture the beauty. I don't think I did too bad of a job, especially considering this shot is straight out of the camera, with no editing or color enhancing involved!

Gorgeous, no? :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Best Christmas Party

Despite the fact that I stayed home sick for three days this week with a lovely case of strep throat (which I immediately recognized by the unmistakable "I think I just swallowed shards of broken glass" feeling) it's still taken me over a week to blog about the best Christmas party of the season! Last Thursday night our Journey Group friends from church came over for our annual White Elephant Gift Exchange and general Christmas merriment. While we missed our recently departed friends Jake and Amber, we were thankful that we were able to schedule the party around the visit of the Guatemalan contingent of the JG, our friends James and Beth.

I've blogged about this event in previous years, so I won't go on and on about how much fun we always have--I'll just share the pictures!

There were no hideous paintings or decapitated heads, but it was still an entertaining evening of gift giving! My personal favorite was probably the children's book entitled "On the Day His Daddy Left." I'm sure that one's pretty uplifting!

Although we've been to several other Christmas parties this year and still have a few left to attend, our JG party is always one of our favorite because we love our JG friends! They're so fun and we're so thankful for them!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Family Photo Session

On Sunday evening Chad and I engaged in a longstanding tradition in our household--the family Christmas picture. I love this tradition because I love to see how we've changed over the years and how our dog family has grown and changed. However, the actual act of taking said picture can be a bit of an ordeal since our family consists of all canines, who aren't necessarily always cooperative. The photo session was especially difficult this year because we didn't have a volunteer photographer like we've had in the past. This meant we had to rely on the camera's timer, which isn't so helpful when working with dogs who don't know they are supposed to be looking at an unmanned camera.

So the photo session took a while, with me extracting myself from the group after each picture to go reset the timer, hoping the dogs all stay in place, then clicking the shutter and jumping back into the group, then getting the dogs to focus back on the camera in just 10 seconds. Celtic was an old pro since he's done this for the last 12 years, and Hope did pretty well after getting over the initial trauma of being forced to sit facing away from Chad, and after several tries Fresco figured out that he was supposed to be sitting still. Remarkably, it only took us nine tries before we got a few pictures that were usable!

Fresco initially insisted on greeting me upon my return, while Hope only wanted to escape the horrible trauma.

Telling Fresco to look at the camera certainly didn't work, since he just responds to the person talking to him.

"Oh, hey Mom, welcome back again!"

Now he's quit looking at us and Hope has finally calmed down, but Celtic is just looking bored and distracted.

After a slight readjustment Fresco is getting it figured out, but Hope is trying to escape again!

Okay, we're getting closer. Fresco is finally looking at the camera, but now Celtic and Hope aren't paying attention!

Celtic and Hope have completely lost interest at this point.

We finally have all three dogs almost looking at the camera, and now there's a ridiculous bizarre look on my face!! Ugh--idiot!

Ok, finally something almost usable! All I had to do was Photoshop Celtic's eyes open and we look almost like a normal family! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Belated Pittsburgh Post

Today I stayed home sick with a wicked sore throat, and although I felt awful and laid around in bed all day it did allow me adequate time to finally write my annual Christmas letter. While it felt a little like deja vu considering I've already written about everything that's happened in our life on this blog, it made me realize that I failed to mention a special trip that my dear hubby took last weekend.

Our friend Brett was going to Pittsburgh and to the Steelers game on business, so when he invited Chad to come along for merely the cost of a plane ticket, Chad was quick to say yes. Little did poor Brett realize that bringing Chad along would cause him to get stuck at a ridiculously cold football game that he didn't really care that much about until the bitter, bitter end. The weather in Pittsburgh last weekend was absolutely miserable, and apparently even the Pittsburgh fans were complaining about it being way colder than normal!

Although Chad certainly isn't the picture addict that I am, he did take a few shots that I thought I would share.

Our friend Brett freezing to death, but being a good sport about it.

Chad in his puffy Steelers coat that his friend Chris gave him a few years ago. It certainly came in handy on this trip!

The awesome Steelers video board, pouring digital Heinz ketchup onto the screen when the Steelers get into the red zone.

In case you missed the game on T.V., the Steelers came back and won the game in the final couple of minutes, scoring two touchdowns in like 24 seconds--so it was a good thing that the guys stuck it out until the end! Thanks Brett, for taking Chad to the game and then hanging in there for the amazing comeback!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Decorating

The last few days have been so busy I've definitely gotten a little behind on my blogging. Since Thursday we've had two Christmas parties, two house guests who stayed two nights and two days of Christmas shopping. I'll talk more about at least one of our Christmas parties soon, but for now I'll just share a few pictures from our tree-shopping excursion and evening of decorating on Wednesday.

We left work a little early and went out to Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm, where we quickly walked through their majorly picked over selection of white pines. There were seriously only two of them left, but thankfully one was perfect and I fell in love immediately! They are just so soft I love to stick my face right in the needles!

As we left we saw the most gorgeous sunset. Although the windshield of the truck kind of ruins the picture, you still kind of get the idea!

We came home and started decorating immediately. Chad thought this was a neat picture of me untangling the lights.

While I was busy hanging ornaments, Chad was playing around with these "magic" Christmas glasses that we have which make lights glow with the word Noel. Chad took this picture through the glasses so you can kind of get the idea. You can't even tell I'm in this picture!

We managed to finish decorating (I use "we" in the loosest sense of the word since the only ornament Chad hung was his little Larry Bird) by the end of the night, and I think the tree was quite lovely when we were finished! I should have taken some better pictures with the good camera, but this one with red highlights is kind of fun!

Finally I'm into the holiday spirit!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holilday Eating Tips

Since tonight we spent the whole evening decorating our house for the holidays, just in time for our Journey Group Christmas party tomorrow night, I thought it was an appropriate time to share something funny that I received via email the other day. This totally made me laugh! Enjoy!


1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's... You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin...always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry--January is just around the corner.

Monday, December 08, 2008

What's Important At Christmas

To help get everyone into the Christmas spirit I want to share something I saw on Good Morning America this morning. They showed just the end of this news story, but it was enough to make me start bawling. I've watched it like 3 times now and I've cried every time.

When that little girl's voice cracks I completely lose it. I don't know that I've every heard a child cry for joy before or have so much passion in the words I love you. This little girl knows what's important at Christmas: having your loved ones safe and sound and in your arms.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

(Partially) Wasted Weekend

Okay, so maybe my weekend wasn't completely wasted, but I like alliteration--so there. I did get a few loads of laundry done, got some family budget stuff done, had a glass of wine with my friend Karen, took some pictures at the shelter and got them uploaded, and made a quick trip to Manhattan to see our friend Clint and his new bride Jenny. However, what I intended to do this weekend was start Christmas cards and do some Christmas shopping. Chad has been in Pittsburgh all weekend (thanks to his friend Brett, who took him to the Steelers/Cowboys game today), so I thought I'd be super productive. However, I made the moronic mistake of starting Twilight for the second time, and for the second time, I just can't put it down!! Ugh--what is wrong with me???

I guess I did sort of get my Christmas shopping started this evening, because I went to the Samaritan's Purse website and purchased a few items from their Christmas catalog in honor of a few people on our Christmas list who say they don't want anything or are otherwise difficult to shop for. Samaritan's Purse is the ministry that does Operation Christmas Child--a project that we've grown to love over the last several years. This year we received their Christmas catalog as well, which has 40 great gift ideas, called "40 Gifts of Hope for a Hurting World". The gifts are things like food, shelter, clothing and medicine which you purchase for needy people all over the world in honor of someone else instead of giving them a gift. I thought it was a really neat idea, and hopefully my friends and family who receive the honor will too!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas Spirit

Let me just start by saying that Christmas is most definitely my favorite holiday of the year. I love giving gifts to the people I love, I love Christmas decorations, and I love celebrating the birth of Christ. With that said, I'm having a really hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this yuletide season! I'm not sure exactly what it is, butI think maybe it has to do with the fact that I have been so consumed with other events for the last 4 months that I just can't seem to switch gears!

Tonight I went to a very nice holiday party with a bunch of ladies from work, and while I had a lovely time hanging out with friends, it still didn't feel very Christmas-y to me. Maybe it will be better once we actually get a tree and some decorations put up, although I'm not sure when that's actually going to happen. With Chad sick in bed all of last weekend, tree shopping certainly wasn't an option, and this weekend he is going to Pittsburgh to watch his beloved Steelers play. Time is running short, so we may have to forgo the annual visit to the Christmas Tree Farm this year!

Maybe doing more Christmas shopping or actually get started on my Christmas cards would help my holiday spirit. Maybe I just need to listen to some Christmas music. Maybe it just needs to snow a few inches. Whatever needs to happen needs to happen soon--only 20 more days until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Speaking Of Mindless Humor

While I'm on the subject of mindless AFV humor, I have to share just one more hysterical video. Today I was searching in vain for our favorite AFV clip of all time (a show-off doing a backflip for no apparent reason and landing flat on his face) and I came across this video on the AFV website. I was literally sitting at my desk crying while watching this. Babies are so flippin' funny!

Can you imagine the cell phone minutes this child is going to use up?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

The other night Chad and I were watching AFV and this was one of the best videos of the evening.

Before you make too much fun of us for watching AFV, let me just say that laughter is good for you, and there's not much funnier than people falling down over and over again. So there.

Monday, December 01, 2008

3-Day Videos

I've loaded the remaining 3-Day videos onto YouTube, so if you're at all inclined, you can visit my personal "channel" here and check them out. Most are self-explanatory, I think, and just consist of a lot of people cheering! The people who come out and support the walkers every day on the route are so incredible. They are always so encouraging and entertaining. This year, there were supporters who made us laugh and cry as well!

The one video that probably needs a little explanation is the one that I think might be the funniest. Let me first say that I knew I had the camera turned sideways--I'd actually learned not to make this mistake after messing up several videos with my old camera. However, this camera appeared to right itself when you recorded a video sideways--at least it did in playback mode. I was trying to test it out, to see if would reorient its videos, when we came upon this guy singing while he was walking. It was so hysterical I couldn't stop recording! In case you can't tell, he's doing Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer. It was absolutely hilarious! Hopefully you can turn your laptop or yourself sideways to watch it! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

3-Day Pictures

I've finally resized, uploaded, sorted, culled and captioned all of my pictures from the Breast Cancer 3-Day last weekend! I deleted enough pictures from other Picasa folders to get the majority of the pictures loaded (there were actually about 360 total, if you can believe it), but I couldn't make room for all of the videos on the site, so those that didn't make it to Picasa will eventually make it to YouTube so that I can share them all! Only one has finished uploading to YouTube so far, but it's a pretty funny (and slightly startling) video, I think.

These girls wore outrageous outfits like this every day, most of which didn't cover much of their bodies! I love the family with all the boobs on their hats too--they were great! Hopefully by tomorrow morning there will be more than just this one!

So here is the full slideshow of all the pictures and a few other videos. If you'd like to view the slideshow a little bigger, you can visit my Picasa page directly by clicking here. I hope to write more about the walk very soon, but the pictures should give you a pretty good idea of what an amazing time we had!

Our Missouri Miracle

This morning I'm re-watching the second half of yesterday's incredible, amazing, stupendous football game against those awful Missouri Tigers. We skipped church this morning, not because I wanted to watch the game again, but because Chad is sick in bed and I didn't get home until 12:30 this morning after going to a wedding/reception in Junction City/Abilene last night. Wouldn't you know that during the best/last game of the year I'd have to be getting ready for a wedding! I watched most of the second half out of the corner of my eye while blow-drying my hair, putting on make-up and getting dressed, and then actually had to leave the house before the game was over--missing the most incredible final drive in KU football history!

This game was flippin' amazing on so many levels. First of all, no one, including our own fans, thought we had a real chance at winning this game. We were 14 point underdogs, had lost 4 out of our last 5 games, and had been dealing with some serious injuries to several of our star players. I knew it was possible that we could win, but certainly didn't think it was probable. That will certainly teach me to doubt my beloved Jayhawks!

The game was such an incredible team effort with so many key contributors. I could go on and on about Reesing's seemingly impossible scrambling and ridiculously high completion percentage. I could talk forever about Stuckey's two amazing interceptions and awesome tomahawk chop that caused a huge fumble. I could write paragraphs about Briscoe's many crazy catches destined for the ESPN highlight reels, and his incredible yardage gained on kickoff returns--a position he hadn't even played all year. I could blab about my boy (and fellow Mustang) Sharp and his big 19 yard touchdown run. I could give a shout out to Laptad and his tenacious pursuit of that whiny, tantrum-throwing MU quarterback. I could talk with amazement about Meier, who was always moving to make himself available, who was pretty much a one man show on that final incredible drive. I could mention all the other amazing KU receivers--Fields, Wilson and Herford--who all made key catches at critical times. I could heap praise on Rojas, who hadn't really punted well all year but managed to pin Mizzou back on multiple occasions and avoid the amazing Maclin like the plague at the same time. I could mention the offensive line, who did a much better job of protecting Reesing than they had in so many games this year. I could talk about my favorite defensive player James "Steve Holt!!" Holt, and his big sack and his persistent one handed tackle of Maclin by the back of his jersey. And I could definitely describe, with the utmost respect, our tough-as-nails kicker Brandstetter, who TWICE saved a probable touchdown (the last one that would have given MU a win) by drilling Maclin like a linebacker on a Mizzou kickoff return. Obviously, I could go on and on and on and on.

Watching the dramatic finish this morning, after having to celebrate alone driving in my car yesterday (screaming like a crazy person and pounding on my steering wheel), my eyes are still filled with tears of joy. We couldn't have asked for a more amazing end to our regular season, for a better college football game in general.

If you weren't lucky enough to get to watch the game yesterday, you can check out the recap from the KU Sports website here or the photo gallery here!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Twilight Obsession

Today was going to be my day to get caught up on blogging about the 3-Day and getting all the pictures posted. Instead I spent about 90% of my day reading. I finally broke down and the other night and bought the first book in the Twilight series, after hearing so many of my friends talk about it for so long. My friend Erin suggested it would be a great thing to read on our trip to Salina yesterday, and my curiosity got the best of me, so I started reading on our drive yesterday morning. By the evening drive home, I was already obsessed so much that I was reading by the light of my cell phone since I didn't have a flashlight!

We got home and I continued to read until about 12:30 this morning, then woke up at 7:30 and started reading immediately! I managed to finish the book within my first few waking hours, fully intending not to start the second book immediately. My obsessive nature with books is why I don't read them more often! Unfortunately, I talked to Erin, who mentioned a sample draft of the latest book online, which is actually just a retelling of the story I'd just read, only from a different character's perspective. I thought it would be just a few chapters, so I thought I'd read it really quickly, and was completely into it already when I realized it was 264 pages long! Unfortunately I have no self control and couldn't stop what I'd started, so I read off and on all day until I finished the excerpt, even though I knew full well what was going to happen!

I did get a couple of other things done today--several loads of laundry, the dogs walked, the 3-Day pictures resized, the KU game watched. For the most part though, I was pretty worthless. My worthlessness became even more apparent as my persistent husband worked the entire day to restore our laptop to working order after we picked up a virus. His tenacity on the project was extremely impressive. It's only because of his diligence that I'm able to blog tonight from the comfort of bed! Thanks, best friend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Picture Problems

Tonight I was so excited to load all of my pictures from our trip and post a slideshow to the blog. Unfortunately, once I loaded the pictures onto the computer, I realized that the new camera was set to such a high picture quality that my folder of 3-Day pictures won't even come close to fitting on my Picasa page!! Argh! I'm so bummed--the trip was amazing and I can't wait to share! I guess maybe I'll look into making a Flickr page or something tomorrow to see if I can find another website on which to post the pictures. For now, here are just a couple of sneak peeks--us freezing before the opening ceremony started and a very happy us after closing ceremonies!

The other bummer about my pictures is that a bunch of them turned out kind of blurry. Granted, I was walking and taking pictures at the same time, which isn't exactly a recipe for steady shooting, but I think maybe there was some sort of setting that was making the autofocus area super small in certain cases--I just can't figure out what it was! Maybe I should have actually read the camera manual on the plane to California or something!

Regardless, the trip was great. My mom did awesome and walked the entire 60 miles without hitching a ride (like hundreds of other walkers do)! I am so proud of her and had so much fun with my brother. I hope to have pictures and to share more of the details very soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We're Here!!

I really meant to post a goodbye message last night before we left for our trip today, but as I was frantically getting packed and prepared, blogging fell by the wayside. Thanks to my brother's laptop and wireless Internet access at our hotel, I'm blogging to you tonight from sunny San Diego! It's been a long day which started at 3:45 this morning, and since we have to get up at 4 a.m. again tomorrow, it's now about 8 p.m. and I'm already in bed. Don't laugh--we have a big day tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Basketball Season Begins

Last night's basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse would have been awesome to see since our very young team played well and our National Championship banner was raised for the first time. We actually had a neighbor offer us tickets a few hours before the game, but I'm so swamped with last minute preparations for our trip tomorrow (and my dear husband is so dedicated to helping me) we didn't feel like going was even an option. However, I was lucky enough to get to see the game on Sunday because my friend LaRisa invited me to go! Since we haven't yet decided to commit the necessary time and finances to be KU basketball season ticket holders, we're always thankful when friends and coworkers invite us to go along to the games!

While the game itself wasn't terribly exciting on Sunday, I have to admit I got goosebumpy and teary-eyed when I watched the new '08-'09 intro video. I should have used my new camera to record the video, but even though I forgot, another wonderful KU fan remembered and posted it on YouTube the next day. Check it out!

In the immortal words of Tommy Boy, "That...was...awesome."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beautiful Bracelets

If you're a reader, you can think of this as the Daily Style section. Except that I have no style and I don't post something stylish daily. Oh, and I'm not funny like Heather Armstrong and I don't have a gajillion readers. Other than that, this is just like Daily Style.

Last Friday night (like over a week ago--I'm slow) I went to my friend Kristin's house because she was having her almost annual jewelry party where she sells the beautiful, one-of-a-kind, handmade beaded jewelry that she designs and makes. A couple of years ago my friend Amber and I went to the party and came home with all sorts of wonderful goodies, for ourselves and to give as Christmas gifts. This year Kristin had all sorts of fabulous new designs and I spent at least an hour perusing all of her creations. Even though I don't generally wear a ton of jewelry (I don't even have my ears pierced, if you can believe it), I absolutely love bracelets. I feel naked without a bracelet most of the time, and lucky for me, Kristin had lots of bracelets!

I probably should have been shopping just for Christmas gifts, but I couldn't resist these two bracelets for myself. Aren't they gorgeous??

My pictures probably don't do them justice, but I assure you--they're beautiful!

I had invited a few of my friends to go with me at the last minute, and although no one could go, a couple of people asked me if Kristin had a website. She doesn't, but when I saw her on Friday I talked to her about starting an Etsy store, so hopefully they'll be a place you can buy her jewelry online very soon!

If I have enough friends interested, I could also host a jewelry party at my house, which might also be kind of fun! It wouldn't be like other jewelry parties where you receive a pitch from a salesperson, but rather just a gathering of friends shopping together in sort of a small boutique where the designer is right on the premises! Kristin is so accommodating that she'll even custom make or adjust jewelry for you right on the spot. Several times at her party she added beads to bracelets that weren't quite big enough or made a similar design for someone that was just in a different color than one she'd already done. She's really quite amazing! When I got home, even Chad said "Where does she get the ideas for all of these?"

If you live in the Lawrence area and might be interested in a jewelry party, let me know!

Monday, November 17, 2008

How Big Is Will??

Chad and I saw this on Good Morning America the other day and we could not stop laughing. How cute is this??

I don't think Will's mom will mind that I've plastered him all over the Internets now that he's already been made famous on YouTube and GMA!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wild Weekend

With all of the trip planning, trip shopping, trip preparing, tailgating, footballing, walking, housecleaning, UFC watching, more walking, sheltering, photographing, and basketballing this weekend, there was absolutely no time for blogging until now. Actually there's not much time for blogging now either, since it's almost 11 and I'm completely pooped.

Amidst the busyness, one of the highlights of this weekend was a lovely gift from my husband that I came home to on Friday--a new point and shoot camera. Specifically, it's a Canon Powershot SD880. I've been researching Powershots for quite some time--probably since our friends James and Beth got one when they moved to Guatemala! This was the one that Chad and I had pretty much decided on (there are like 13 Powershot models), but I had no idea he was going to get it before my trip to San Diego! My old point and shoot could fit into my purse pretty well when the big camera wasn't an option, but it was about 4.5 years old, which is pretty ancient in the world of electronics! It had some pretty major scratches on the lens too, and it generally smells like dirty dogs since I've been using at the shelter for the last year or so.

Anyway, while the game yesterday wasn't exactly what we hoped for, I did have fun trying to figure out my new camera!

My favorite feature, as you might have guessed, is the "color accent" setting where you can make everything black and white except for just one color. I love it!! Maybe that will get old after a while, but right now I'm obsessed!

While I'm kind of focusing more on the pictures than on the game here, I do have to say that I was SO proud of our defense yesterday. They had played pretty poorly most of the season, and yesterday they totally stepped up and got some HUGE stops. It was such a bummer that on the one day our defense was playing well our offense couldn't make anything happen! Considering how much our defense was on the field, the fact that they gave up 35 points to the number 3 team in the country was actually very impressive! I just felt so bad for them that the offense couldn't help them out at all! It's like the opposite problem that we've had most of the year, but I really think a lot of offensive issues were do to injuries. It was obvious that Todd and Kerry were both playing injured, and Jake was out of the game for quite a while as well. We just need everyone to get healthy again if we're going to have a shot at upsetting Missouri in two weeks! I know it's not likely, but hey--a girl can dream!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monkey Feet

After watching KU get beat on Saturday, Chad and I went out to Target to do a little shopping to lift our depression. Okay, maybe that was me shopping to lift my depression--Chad was just along for the ride. Regardless, while browsing through the sock area I saw something that I asked Chad to put on my Christmas list. Since he was afraid he wouldn't remember by the time he got around to doing his Christmas shopping (don't Blackberrys have some sort of notepad feature?) he insisted that we just fork out the $13 for my heart's desire right then and there. And so every night since, I've been wearing these:

I have always loved monkeys (some of you might remember my dear stuffed monkey Huey), so when I saw these my heart just melted. I tried them on and they have the puffiest, squishiest, comfiest bottoms. As soon as I get home in the evening I put them on and walk around singing "monkey feet, monkey feet, monkey feet" for no apparent reason. I love love love love my new monkey feet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

I'm going to be a total copycat tonight because a) I'm tired and b) my friend Amber posted something so wonderful on her blog today that I also want to share. I am the second to admit (Amber being the first) that I didn't think much at all about Veterans Day today. I have been completely consumed with 3-Day stuff and I'm ashamed that I haven't stopped to think about and honor our nation's soldiers and veterans, including my own cousins currently in Iraq and Afghanistan. If only I could be more like the guy featured in this video.

What a wonderful person, setting a wonderful example of how all of our veterans and soldiers should be loved and honored.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life Without Limbs

There have been many days in the last few years that I've come home from work in a very bad mood because of back pain. I get super frustrated sometimes that I can't find anything that will fix my bulging disc or keep it from controlling my life. From now on, I think whenever I have a really crappy day and am feeling particularly sorry for myself and my back problem, I should watch this video. This amazing man absolutely puts my problems into perspective.

The life that Nick Vujicic was dealt is so unimaginable to most of us, and what's even more unimaginable is the amazing attitude he has about his life! At 25 years old this incredible young man has accomplished more than many people will in a lifetime. He is the president of an international non-profit ministry called Life Without Limbs, and also has his own motivational speaking company called Attitude Is Altitude. There are literally hundreds of videos about him on YouTube in many different languages. He inspires people around the world with his story, his humor, his positive attitude and his smile, and he inspires me as well!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Forty Years and Counting

I haven't had the urge to blog about KU football much this year. I think it's because every game has been on TV, and it seems silly for me to blab about games that everyone has already seen. Today's game against Nebraska was actually only available on pay-per-view, so when our friend Mike invited us to come to KC to watch the game with him, we took him up on the offer.

Unfortunately, the game didn't turn out quite the way we'd hoped--our 40 year losing streak in Lincoln continues. We really needed this win, since it's very highly unlikely that we'll actually win our last two games against Texas and Missouri. We'll probably end up being 6-6 now at the end of the season, which means that we might not even make it to a bowl game!

Our offense today wasn't terrible, but our freakin' defense was ridiculously bad. How could we let a team like Nebraska, who isn't even that great anymore, put 45 points on the board against us?? Our defense was like a sieve. I'd kind of been thinking that our defense was so much worse this year because we'd lost so many players from last year, but our friend Mike pointed out that we have 9 of the 11 defensive starters back from last year. Mike's take is that since clearly these guys didn't forget how to tackle in the last year, the difference must be the loss of one of the defensive coordinators. Mike played football at Baker University and was a graduate assistant coach at Washburn, so he kind of knows what he's talking about, and play after play he points out defensive coaching mistakes. I hadn't previously realized that the coaching staff had changed and so few of the players actually had, so I think maybe Mike has a point!

There was one play of the game that was definitely worth watching again, which Chad thinks we'll probably see on SportsCenter for years to come. In case you missed it, an awesome KU fan has already put it on YouTube!

Sparky is one tough dude!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fall Foliage

Last week and the week before, every time I got in the car and drove to or from work I had just one thing on my mind: the amazingly gorgeous fall leaves. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the leaves were absolutely fantastic. All I wanted to do was jump out of my car and take pictures. All I could think about was capturing all that fleeting beauty with my camera. It was one of those times that I wish I didn't have a job so I could just walk around Lawrence snapping photos all day long. I seriously think I could have spent an entire day doing just that--walking around and shooting pictures of leaves!

Over my lunch hour one day early last week I took a few pictures in our yard, and then finally at the end of the week I took a walk around the block and snapped some shots of some of the neighbors trees. I added a few more from our tree to the "roll" earlier this week, but after a super blustery day today, many of the lighter colored leaves have blown down and a lot of these trees are now completely naked! I'm so glad I was able to capture some of the beauty before it all blew away.

I hope you enjoy the fall beauty as much as I do!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

History, Hope and Healing

I keep saying I don't like politics, but I guess for someone who doesn't like politics I've been blogging a whole lot about politics lately! Really, it's been sort of hard to avoid in 2008. Although I'm hoping that this will be the last politically related post for quite some time, I really feel like I can't let this day go by without acknowledging that history was made yesterday.

I guess I always thought we could potentially elect an African-American president in my lifetime, but that doesn't make this event any less exciting or make me any more proud of America's choice. The fact that 52% of our nation was able to look beyond skin color and pick the candidate that they felt was best qualified seriously brings a tear to my eye.

My hope now is that our country can begin healing. The political process is so polarizing and causes such animosity between friends and neighbors and coworkers that it pains me. I want our country to be unified once again! I hope that all Americans will at least attempt to embrace President Obama, at least give him a chance to change this country for the better. Whether you agree with his policies or not, you have to admit that he is an amazingly intelligent man, an amazingly powerful speaker, an amazingly inspiring person and an amazingly poised leader. He is so positive and hopeful about making the changes that our country so desperately needs. I just pray that the 48% that didn't vote for him will at least try to focus on the positives and give him a chance. He needs the support of all Americans and he needs our prayers!

If you missed his speech last night, you can watch the whole thing here on If you want just a taste of his speech, here are just a few of my favorite parts:

"We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.


The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.


In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.


As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too."

History has been made, and I'm hopeful for change and the healing of our nation!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Chapman Church

Over the weekend my mom and I took a short trip to her tiny hometown of Chapman, Kansas. Chapman is sort of in between Salina and Manhattan and was relatively unknown until a tornado hit the town on June 11 of this year. We'd seen much of the resulting devastation when we were back for my uncle's funeral a few weeks ago. The center part of the town doesn't even look the same since all of the old houses are completely gone. The house where my mom's grandparents used to live and about 59 other homes were completely destroyed and have since been razed.

Two of the three churches in town were badly damaged as well, including the church where my mom grew up. Mom was baptized, confirmed and married in the Lutheran church in Chapman, and my grandmother's funeral was there as well. When the news came last week that what's left of the 119-year-old church building would be torn down soon, Mom and I decided to go to the disposition service on Sunday.

It was a nice service which commemorated the history of the church and yet reminded the parishioners that the church building isn't what makes a church body. They opened a time capsule and looked through most of the items inside. It was a beautiful day, despite the wind that threatened to blow away the fragile papers from the time capsule! Hopefully the service helped many people say goodbye the church and will help them move on to the next chapter in the life of their congregation.

Before and after the service I took tons of pictures of the building and of the town--some of the damage and some of special memories for my mom. Strangely enough, there was actually a picture of me taking pictures in the Salina Journal the next day. Had the photographer not asked my name for the paper, however, I don't think I would even be sure it was a picture of me! I'm certainly not that tall and thin in real life!

After the service, Mom and I finished our 10 mile training walk for the day walking around Chapman, visiting homes and sites from her childhood. I especially enjoyed our visit to the city park and pool, where I spent many hours playing as a child while visiting my grandma, uncle and cousins. We stopped by the home of my grandmother's best friend, who is an amazing 97 year old woman who looks like she's 80! We stopped by the site of my great-aunt Edna's home, which was next to the home where my mom lived until she was five. Edna's home was also was the first house in town hit by the tornado. On the way out of town, we stopped back by the site and took some pictures, getting busted by the new owner, who wasn't very happy about us being on his property! Once we told him we were relatives of Edna's, he was very kind and stood and talked quite a while. He talked about how the tornado moved Edna's house into his living room across the street, and how he came over to the remains of her home after the storm fully expecting that she had been killed. She was so lucky to have survived!

Our visit to Chapman was quite an enjoyable lesson in the history of my mom's childhood, and I had a great time taking pictures, and yet it also made me very thankful I didn't grow up in a town of 1300 people! Enjoy the pictures of our day below!

Sick Voting

Although I'm home sick again and have spent most of my day here in bed, I did actually go down to our polling place to cast my vote this afternoon. I have my sticker to prove it!

Thankfully there was no line at all because our polling place is so tiny. I think I was the 292nd person to vote there at 1:30 p.m. And yes, I did go out in public looking like this, with no makeup or contacts. I know it's frightening, but I did at least shower before leaving the house!

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Show

Okay--I'm finally posting the long awaited review about the highly anticipated Old 97's show from over two weeks ago. Please don't take my delay in blogging about the event as evidence that the show wasn't good--it was terrific! I've just been trying to give such an important post the time and effort it deserves--and finding adequate time is definitely a problem lately! Today I finally finished it while I was home sick in bed. It's kind of sad that I'm using sick days to get caught up on my life!

Obviously I was extremely excited about this concert despite the fact that I've seen the 97's live on six previous occasions. In my opinion, one can never see the 97's too many times. As always, they put on an amazingly energetic show. It's hard to believe that these four guys who are all older than I am can still rock out so hard for two solid hours. Never do they slow down! They played a lot of stuff from their latest album, which I'm a big fan of, but that also meant that a lot of my old favorites got bumped from the rotation, which was a bummer. I missed Four Leaf Clover--my favorite song in the world! Is it bad to wish your favorite band ever wouldn't put out another album so that I could hear more of my favorite old songs at their concerts? That's probably not very good logic at all. They did play Niteclub, which is also one of my favorites that I didn't get to hear at their last show I saw in KC.

Another highlight of the show was getting introduced to a new opening band that was really good called The Spring Standards. They were good musicians with great voices and wonderful harmonies. I really enjoyed them live--much more so than in the studio. I bought their CD after the show, along with a new 97's t-shirt, which I put on immediately for our group picture with our favorite Salina family--the Fellers! No 97's show would be complete with out the presence of at least 4 members of the Fellers clan!

There were only a few things that were missing from this show at the Granada. First, although they played a tons of songs off the latest release, they didn't play my two favorites--Here's To The Halcyon and The One (which is actually an old song that had just never been released on a real album). I didn't get to see them live, but thanks to YouTube you can watch them here and here!

Okay, back to the Lawrence show. The second thing that was missing from the Granada was a big crowd. The crowd was not totally embarrassing, but the place was certainly not packed. We've seen them fill much bigger venues, so I just felt really bad for the band that the place wasn't bursting at the seams! I think part of the lameness of the crowd was due to the fact that KU wasn't in session that Thursday night or Friday, although I really don't know how much college kids listen to the 97's these days. I know it being a weeknight didn't help the adult crowd get there either. I felt so bad for the band, and I also felt personally responsible that the crowd kind of sucked because I had tried so hard to promote the show! The one good thing about having a mediocre crowd was that it was pretty easy to stand on the floor, super close to the stage. Being able to see the boys rock out close up is one of the best parts of seeing the 97's in the first place!

As a direct result of the crowd being slightly small, I think a lot of the normal witty banter between Rhett and the fans was missing as well. Rhett seemed particularly quiet this show, and I couldn't help but worry that he was secretly a little disappointed in the turnout. His relative silence was probably partially because they are just freakin' tired at this point. They've been on tour for almost a year I think! They've got to be pooped, and yet they still rocked out like there was a packed house and their tour had just started! I love it that they always give 100% and never phone in a show! I'm already trying to convince Chad that we should drive down to Dallas and see them again on December 30th! :)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Scary Sights

These pictures are a little late for the holiday, but since I didn't actually take them until Friday evening this was my first chance to post them. If you've been reading my blog since the beginning you might remember that a couple of years ago I blogged about this house a block or so away from us where the people put out crazy Halloween decorations. I mean really crazy. I tried to take a few pictures back then, but the pictures really didn't do the whole display justice since I was driving by in a car using a small point and shoot camera.

The crazy Halloween display, which is actually technically outside of town since we live right near the city limit, has grown more expansive with every passing year. This year, they actually charged a fee to let people walk through on Halloween. While we didn't walk through the haunted maze, I did walk down the street to snap a few pictures before it got too dark on Friday. I think now you'll see why I think the whole thing is quite creepy!!

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think that decorating your yard like this entirely normal!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I think everyone in Jayhawk country and beyond has probably seen this by now, but it's just too funny not to share! Happy Halloween, everyone!

My brother was convinced this baby must actually be part of the Mangino family because he has the Mangino neck (or lack thereof). My take is that any fat baby with a moustache is probably going to look like our coach.

Do you think when this baby's parents sent this picture out to their friends and family they knew it would be passed all over the Internets every Halloween for the next 20 years?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote--Or Else!

You've probably already seen this by now, but I wanted to post here anyway because I think it's hilarious. Plus I'm too tired for real blogging tonight. Hopefully it will be funny regardless of who is getting your vote on Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Goodbye, Dear Sweatshirt

Tonight I have have to say goodbye to one of my favorite articles of clothing, which met its demise earlier this evening. Chad will attest to the fact that I was completely devastated. When we returned from our evening walk and I attempted to take off my wonderfully warm and versatile fleece jacket, the zipper broke. Not only did it break, but it became so immobile that I couldn't get the darned jacket off. There were a few minutes of near panic while I was attempting to pull the jacket over my head through a hole that was entirely too small, but I managed to escape unharmed when my husband used his herculean strength to get me unstuck. Unfortunately, the zipper broke into so many pieces it is completely beyond repair.

I loved this sweatshirt for its warmth and comfort, but also because it was reversible--it was like having two favorite sweatshirts! I will miss them both!

To honor the memory of my lovely sweatshirt, I thought I'd share a few pictures of our life together over the last few years.

From 2007-06-09-Relay for Life

From 2007-11-15-San Diego

From 2008-01-06--Florida

From 2008-01-06--Florida

From 2008-04-08-NCAA CHAMPS

From 2008-06-05-California

From 2008-06-07-California2

Goodbye, dear sweatshirt! You will be missed!

Monday, October 27, 2008

KU Highlights

Saturday's homecoming game here at KU left a little to be desired, to say the least. In case you missed it, we got stomped. Badly. There were a couple of highlights though.

The balloon Jayhawk at Tim and Trish's tailgate

The flyover of military jets before the game.

That was pretty much it. That was the point at which I stopped taking pictures.

We had been so upset when our friend's wedding was scheduled on the same day as homecoming, and then so relieved when the game was scheduled early enough that we could go and not miss the wedding. After the game started going downhill, we actually became thankful that the wedding was scheduled on homecoming--it gave us a good excuse to leave early and escape the pain of the terrible beating!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Small Town Wedding

On Saturday afternoon we went to a wedding in the small town of Valley Falls, with a reception following in the even smaller town of Meriden. The bride was the daughter of our friends Steve and Beth (Steve was Chad's boss at the Wildlife & Parks Department), and we just love the whole family dearly. Steve and Beth moved back home to Pennsylvania about 5 years ago, and we don't get to see them very often, so it was wonderful to see them and be there for Heidi's wedding.

It was a lovely ceremony and the flowers and dresses were beautiful. We had to laugh though, because only at a small town wedding do you see guests wearing this:

I guess because the camouflage was just on the sleeves that made it wedding attire?

Steve and his son Matt are avid hunters, so our friend Dick apparently felt it appropriate to wear these pants, which I'm pretty sure you would only see at a small town wedding:

Yes, those are tiny pheasants all over his pants.

The reception was in a large (and thankfully heated) storage building out at the groom's house, and the food was terrific. There were lots of drinks to choose from, but only at a small town wedding do you ask for a glass of red wine and get this:

Uh, yeah. That is red wine, and it's poured over a full glass of ice, and it's at least 12 ounces worth. Needless to say, we fished the ice out of the glass before I actually started drinking. I wasn't able to finish the wine over the course of the next 3 hours because there was so much of it!

So those are some things that you probably don't usually see at weddings, but we also heard some unusual things at the celebration as well. When our friend Dick accidentally spilled his drink onto his wife's sweater, an older gentleman (I use that term loosely) actually shouted out "wet booby!" Seriously. Wow. Only at a small town wedding!!