Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Tubbs Fan

Last night Chad and I went to the annual dinner for the Chamber of Commerce of our fair city, and as usual, the evening was ridiculously, absurdly and entirely too long. We got there at 6:30 and did not leave the Holiday Inn until 10:30 at night. The majority of the evening we were sitting at our table after a marginal meal listening to the awards presentations, which always take an obscene amount of time. I won't go into the details since I did that last year, but let's just say I don't really enjoy this particular event.

With that said, I am actually really glad I went last night. We didn't get to hang out with any good friends like we have some years, but the keynote speaker of the evening was totally worth the wait. The speaker was former OU basketball coach Billy Tubbs (who is now the AD at Lamar University, where I got this picture), and he was absolutely hilarious. He had so many hysterical one-liners I'm hoping the Chamber folks taped the speech because it was totally worth watching again. Although it started out just as a bunch of fun anecdotal basketball stories (which would have been fine with us college basketball fans), he actually did end up making the whole thing topical by outlining his keys to success (which he defined as "being the best you are capable of being") and applying them to the success of the city. I liked his talk so much I took notes on my iPhone! Here were his tips for being successful:

1. Set goals.
2. Have a game plan.
3. Have an alternate plan.
4. Be committed.
5. Have a cause.
6. Surround yourself with good people.
7. Get the max out of your resources.

As I mentioned, along with having good talking points, Tubbs kept us laughing the entire hour he talked. Although his language was slightly off color, he was like a stand up comedian most of the time. My favorite line was actually kind of a backhanded complaint about the length of the previous presentations. Tubbs said, "Ya'll don't need a keynote speaker...h*ll, I thought I was at the d*mn Academy Awards!" Loved it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Half Court Craziness

This morning I was getting ready for work and had GMA on in the next room as I often do. I leaned out of the bathroom to see short video clip of a guy making a half court basketball shot blindfolded in front of a high school gym full of kids. The folks at GMA were so enthralled with the video they had invited the blindfolded shooter (who was actually a teacher at the school) to be on the program this morning. When they showed the live shot of him with some of his high school students in the promo, my mouth dropped open and I actually said "NO WAY" out loud (apparently to the dogs since there was no one else here at the time). The blindfolded teacher/shooter was actually an old friend of ours!

We first met Joel and his wife Christian over 10 years ago when they were briefly part of our small group at our old church. Having Joel in our group was kind of exciting for all of us because he was rather famous in Lawrence--he had played basketball as a walk on at KU just a few years before we met him. Several years later, when Chad and I were searching for a new church and visited Christ Community for the first time, we turned around to the pew behind us to greet our neighbors, and there were Joel and Christian! Our paths at CCC didn't cross for long though, as Joel took a job teaching in Olathe and they moved soon after we joined their church.

So anyway, when I saw Joel on GMA this morning I was completely flabbergasted, but even if I hadn't known him it still would have been a fun and terrific story! The shot is absolutely amazing and astounding! Joel is a great guy and the 15 minutes of fame (30 minutes total if you count his 15 minutes with the Jayhawks) couldn't have been bestowed upon a nicer person. You can watch the full interview from GMA here or check out a good article in USA Today that gives you a little more background story, but first, check out the incredible shot below!

This amazing half court shot reminded me of some other amazing half court shots that I never got around to sharing a couple of weeks ago. If you didn't already see this somewhere online, you have to watch this video. It's Cole Aldrich and some student managers/coordinators horsing around before practice earlier this month, and it's so amazing, many people thought it was fake--but it's not! Really!

You can read the whole story about their game of horse at the Lawrence Journal-World. Gotta love basketball season in Lawrence!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grandma Goodness

This weekend we finally made our trip to Salina that the weather had prevented since the holidays. Our main purpose for the trip was to visit Chad's grandmas and deliver their gifts that we'd originally intended to take the weekend after Christmas. We left yesterday morning, and after stopping for Chad's obligatory meal at Bogey's, we went to Grandma Decker's apartment and watched the Jayhawks win while playing gin. Grandma has congestive heart failure and her physical health isn't very good, but she's still mentally sharp enough to play cards and to do crosswords and jigsaw puzzles. While Chad was Grandma's card opponent I worked a little on the puzzle she had out, and it was incredibly hard! I love jigsaw puzzles and used to do them all the time when we first got married. The problem with me and jigsaw puzzles is the same problem with me and books--I start them and I can't get much of anything else done until they're finished!

After some cards and basketball and puzzling, Chad and I went and picked up a salad for Grandma for dinner, and hung out with her for a while longer while she ate. We got a few pictures before we said goodbye and headed off to our next engagement.

For our own dinner, Chad and I headed to downtown Salina, where we met my good childhood friend Jennifer at Martinelli's. I'd never been there, but I wanted to check out the food and the banquet room since it's where we're organizing our 20th high school reunion for this summer. We were shocked at how packed it was--I had no idea there was any place in Salina that was so popular! The food was pretty good and we had such a great time getting caught up and reminiscing with Jen. It felt like no time at all had passed even though Jen and I hadn't seen each other in 6 years. Our friend Jason also came out for a beer a little later, and we had such a nice time with old friends we ended up not getting home to Chad's parents until almost 10. After hanging out with the folks over a few games of dominoes (I won, in case you're keeping score), we headed to bed after a long day.

We got up this morning and headed into town to meet Grandma Luce at IHOP, where we had a tasty and leisurely breakfast with such enjoyable company! We got the updates on all of Chad cousins and aunts and uncles that we haven't seen in a while, and told Grandma all about the new house and whatever else is going on here in Lawrence. Grandma just turned 84 in November, and yet she's still so witty and sharp, you would never guess she was a day over 75! She's always quick with a joke or a funny retort and is just so fun to spend time with. Although the weather had taken a nasty turn as we left the restaurant, we were able to get a few good pictures with Grandma before heading out into the cold. As you can see, Grandma is a tiny little thing who makes me look tall and makes Chad look like a giant!

Our trip was great and was made even better by the fact that our friend Beth stayed the night with the dogs so we didn't have to worry about them! Hooray for wonderful friends who will dogsit! :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Love Figure Skating

I really do love figure skating and I really am looking forward to the Winter Olympics in a few more weeks, but this post is actually more related to a lack of time and a lack of anything else interesting to blog about this evening. Maybe it's a little bit fitting for tonight since I just returned from my dance class where I practiced my gracefulness, which clearly I'm displaying in the video below. ;)

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

I especially love the way Chad's head moved around inside of his hair. Too funny! When I showed him the video he exclaimed, "Wow, I didn't even know I could do that!" He's such a goofball and it's one of the many things I love about him!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Freaky Fog

In case you don't live in the Lawrence area, let me just share that we've been experiencing some major climate change here in northeast Kansas. As if the crazy amounts of snow weren't unusual enough, the last several days our city has been frequently blanketed with some crazy thick fog. Not just like your typical morning fog either--this is fog that's lasting almost all day and night. Last night when Chad and I went to the grocery store, we couldn't see a block ahead of us and could barely tell which landmarks were what. It was super creepy. I took a few pictures when we got home, and then took a few more this morning at about 10, and then a few more at 11 when the fog was still incredibly thick. It's really bizarre. Here are just a few pics to give you an idea of what the weather's like in our neighborhood these days!

Devastation in Dreams

After watching the news right before bed, last night I dreamt about the earthquake devastation in Haiti. Honestly, I haven't watched the newscasts about Haiti much in the last 6 days since the catastrophe. It's just so overwhelmingly sad and horrific, and I end up just feeling helpless and depressed when I watch the news reports. Even if I did have the means and opportunity to go to Haiti on a relief mission, after seeing the looting and shooting and widespread violence going on in the midst of the disaster, I think I would be too scared to go there to help.

We do have a friend from our church, Debbie, who is actually in Haiti right now (you can visit her blog here). Strangely enough, she was there on a completely unrelated mission trip in a small village quite a distance from the capital. They felt the earthquake in her village and actually found it quite exciting until they started getting news of the devastation in Port-au-Prince. Now, instead of teaching the locals about ecology and nutrition as was the initial plan for her multi-week trip, she's helping her host family (an American woman and her Haitian husband who are missionaries with United Christians International) take in refugees. She said that everyone in the village has relatives in the capital, because it's where everyone goes for school and for a better life than can be found in the villages. Young people and their families save money for years just to move to Port-au-Prince, and now there's nothing left for them there. There were four young men from the village who were in school there who shared an apartment in the city--an apartment where they were all killed in the quake. There has been lots of mourning in the village since they found out the news, but there has also been rejoicing as they've heard news of locals surviving. One such story is in her post from today, which you should definitely read if you have time because it's quite amazing. Even yesterday, there were still a few happy endings like this one of people still being found alive in the rubble.

I can't even imagine how horrible it must be for the families who have lost loved ones in the disaster--loved ones that won't even get a proper burial in many cases. It's just so overwhelming, and it feels like there's so little we can do to help. Although I have been at least praying for the victims of the earthquake as well as the relief workers the last few days, this morning I did something else that I'd been meaning to do for days. I went to the website of my favorite international relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, and made a donation towards their Haiti relief efforts. Hopefully most Americans who are able will find some way to contribute to the relief effort as well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Amazing Will To Live

I was reading my friend Matt's blog this evening and was absolutely mesmerized by an article he posted regarding an astounding medical feat from 1961. The article is a case study in the British Medical Journal about a surgery done at an Antarctic polar research base that wasn't equipped with a medical facility. The fact that the 12 residents of the base had to create a makeshift hospital there isn't actually the incredible thing though. The fascinating and astounding part of the story is that the resident of the base that happened to get sick and need surgery was the surgeon. The only surgeon. The only person the base with medical training. The only person on the base who could possibly perform surgery. The person who had to perform surgery on himself. Oh yes. ON HIMSELF.

This story is absolutely incredible. You should definitely read it in its entirety here. I find such amazing feats of courage and intestinal fortitude (literally) so fascinating and inspiring. Maybe I'm more captivated by the story right now because I'm in the midst of reading a book called Year of Wonders lent by my friend Lindsay about similarly amazing feats of courage. I'm only about a third of the way through so far, and while it's certainly an incredibly sad story about the plague in a British village in the 17th century, it's also a fabulous story about the determination of the human spirit. I'm admittedly easily entertained when it comes to literature, but so far I think it's a great book!

Back to the original point though--you totally have to read this article!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christmas With The Moms

Okay, since we spent much of the weekend hanging around the house again because of the cold weather (the high yesterday was 13 and today the wind chill was 16) I can finally finish the blog post I promised a week ago. Hopefully by February I will be finished talking about the holidays!

Our party on the 23rd was a Christmas tradition that started about 15 years ago when we were first married. Traditionally, on Christmas Eve Chad's mom Joan would host her sons and their families and a few close friends at her house in Lindsborg, where she would make us all delicious bierocks with her husband's famous spicy mustard. As the years went on and our families moved and changed, we started rotating hosting duties among various family and friend homes, modifying the date as needed to best fit into everyone's schedules. This year our moms and Chad's brothers and a few other friends gathered at our house to enjoy our traditional Christmas party.

As always, we had great food and a nice time with family members, exchanging gifts and watching the nephews open their presents and play with their new treasures. It was such an enjoyable evening, and we were so glad we got to have Christmas with both of our moms before the storm hit the next day, because once the snow arrived no one was really going anywhere!

Originally, I'd intended to just pick one picture from the evening and link to the rest, but I think the pictures just tell a nice story of our evening if you're interested!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hooray Kristin!!

Kristin was my first and only friend who guessed where that sculpture was prior to being at the Lawrence Arts Center--in our backyard! Okay, not really right in our backyard, but certainly within view of our bedroom window!

We never did figure out what it was or why it was there, but about a month ago when we were giving some friends a tour of the house, we pulled up the blinds in our bedroom to show them the bizarre sculpture and it was gone. A few weeks later Chad and I were driving downtown and both of our jaws both dropped open when we went past the arts center. Our personal backyard sculpture (shown here at its previous home) is now famous!

Unfortunately, I don't really even remember what white elephant gifts Chad and I came away with a few weeks ago, so I don't even know yet what prizes Kristin will get to choose from (Beth, we are unfortunately not in possession of the famous painting). The good news is, she'll be at our house tomorrow night so she can pick what she wants out in person--that is, if I can actually remember what I did with our treasures!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Recognize This??

I have to postpone my promised post one more night because the evening was filled with other activities. My friend Robyn and I went to our first dance class tonight at the Lawrence Arts Center. We'd been talking about taking a dance class for years and finally bit the bullet and signed up a few weeks ago. Since it's been 15 years since I've danced in an organized class, I was a bit nervous, but the class went well for the most part.

That's not actually the purpose of this post though. The purpose is to show you this sculpture that was recently erected in front of the Lawrence Arts Center, which I took a picture of this evening.

Do you recognize this at all? Chad and I saw it downtown for the first time a few weeks ago. I say we saw it for the first time downtown because we'd seen it before elsewhere. Does anyone remember where we saw it before? If you can name its previous location you'll win a fabulous prize. I will personally mail you the fantastic white elephant gift of your choice from our Journey Group Christmas party. :) If you need a hint, check out the pictures from our Picasa page!

Monday, January 04, 2010

You Bettis Believe

I interrupt my previously promised Christmas party posting to bring you this breaking news from my awesome family. Today I viewed my brother's latest commercial for the first time and I just had to share it--at least what I could find of it! Eric found the full commercial (which is only supposed to be shown online as of now) on the DiGiorno Facebook page, but I couldn't find that version on Youtube, so hopefully you can see it on Facebook even if you don't have an account. If not, here's the much shorter version that's posted on Youtube. Unfortunately, this version doesn't feature Eric nearly as much, but it's still fun!

As you can imagine, I'm super proud of my big bro even though he claims he's barely in the commercial.

Talking about Eric's successes actually reminds me of something else I started to post about a while back and never got finished. I mentioned back in July that Eric had a short film at a film festival, and I'd linked to the trailer on Facebook, but I don't think non-Facebooking people could actually ever see it. Somehow a few weeks ago I actually came across the trailer on the Internet Movie Database, which I think is pretty darn awesome. The trailer is very well done and I think my brother is hilarious in it! Plus, even though she's not in the trailer, apparently the hysterical secretary from Ferris Bueller's Day Off is also in this short, although I totally don't remember my brother ever telling me that! I wish I could see the whole film!

Did I mention I'm really proud of my brother?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Journey Group Christmas '09

I'm sad that the holidays are over, and even more sad that I have to go back to work tomorrow for an entire five days. Our last day of vacation today was super lazy and relaxing, especially since it snowed all day long and was too cold to be outside. The only productive thing we did all day was get the tree decorations put away and the tree out to the curb, which always makes me depressed!

Before we close the books on the 2009 holidays completely, I thought I should briefly mention the rest of the holiday parties we enjoyed during the season. I took about a bajillion pictures at each of them, but instead of boring everyone with another slideshow, I'll just pick a favorite picture from each evening.

First we had our annual Journey Group Christmas party with the always fantastic white elephant gift exchange. This was an almost perfect evening with tons of terrific food and great friends, with the only non-perfect part of the night being the part where Fresco helped himself to some of Charlie's fantastic dessert from the dining room table while we were all in the kitchen. The rest of the night wasn't quite as relaxed since we had to be extra vigilant trying to keep Fresco away from all the food!

During this year's gift exchange, the very hot and oft stolen item was a nearly new paintball gun the Danny had once received as a gift. As you can imagine, most of the guys in the room were salivating over this new toy! Kristin opened it first, James borrowed it to do his personal photo session, I think Pat stole it from his own wife, but then Dillon ended up with it at the end. We had a few other entertaining gifts, but the gun was by far the most sought after!

For the few of you who might be interested, there are tons more pictures on our Picasa page of our gift exchange. Tomorrow I'll share the pictures from our last party before Christmas!

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Year in Pictures

Happy New Year, dear friends and readers! I can't believe 2010 is really here. It doesn't seem possible that we're already a decade into the 2000s. It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year while worrying about Y2K.

While it's always exciting to start a fresh new year, I have to give 2009 its props before gearing up for the next 12 months. The last 365 days have been so good to us. We've been blessed with so much we could never express our thanks enough. God is so good!!

I was inspired by one of favorite famous bloggers (Heather Armstrong of to put together a slideshow in honor of terrific 2009. I didn't realize how long this would actually take until I got started this morning! I decided I would pick just one image from every batch of pictures to represent the event or moment, no matter how silly or insignificant. Some of the pictures have already been featured on the blog, some I meant to share but just never got around to posting, and some are so pointless they really aren't blogworthy at all. Regardless, I tried to include a shot that resulted each time I busted out my camera. I hope you enjoy our year in pictures!