Tag Archives: friends

It’s a Major Award!

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As you might remember, after slaving over a hot keyboard for thirty days in pursuit of that most noble of goals–completing NaBloPoMo 2009–I was pretty jazzed about the possibility of winning one of the fabulous prizes being offered on the official NaBlo site.  Alas and alack, whoever performed the random drawings utterly failed to pull my name out of the hat.  No prize for me.

Until today.

This morning, Kathy walked into my office and, with much fanfare, presented me with this bag, festively festooned with this garland of…disco balls.

My very own NaBloPoMo prize!  Isn’t she awesome?  Inside there were two splendid things.  One: Kathy’s famous chocolate-covered pretzels.  These did not make it home to share with the rest of the family.  Oopsies.

Two:  this book, which I’ve been dying to read ever since I stumbled across it on some geeky website months ago.  (Get it?  “Dying” to read?  Or maybe I should have said “undying” to read.  Hahahahaha!  I slay me!  Get it?  “Slay”?  Am I hilarious, or what?)

Thank you so much, Kathy!  You…complete me.

(Okay, maybe not.  But you certainly know what I like!  I think this might even make up for that little King incident a few weeks ago.)

Our Friends, Slash and Axl

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We just got back from spending the evening at the home of our friends, Jim and Alyson, where the girls (I’m tickled to say) totally put the smackdown on the boys in a very close game of Three For All.  In the guys’ defense, though, Alyson’s sharp nails made it a little scary for anyone else to approach the buzzer.  If you want to win, you have to be willing to take a few risks, right?

Hanging out with the Kleins has become something of a weekly ritual, one we really look forward to.  The kids play, we take turns providing dinner (pizza if it’s our turn, of course), and we veg out talking, watching TV, or playing games.  There is a lot of laughing.

This is the part of the post where I was going to write a long, moving opus about Jim and Alyson, and how blessed we are to know them (not to mention what great taste in friends they have), but it’s been a long day, I am full of Alyson’s yummy beef stroganoff, and I’m starting to nod off already like an old lady.

So instead I’ll tell you just seven of the many things we like about these two wonderful people:

1. They are way cooler than us. (See photo.)  If they ever start a rock band for real, maybe they’ll let us be roadies.

2.  They are our entertainment twins. They like The Office, science fiction, Pixar, and Xbox games, just like us!  To an astonishingly large degree, they enjoy the same movies, music, books, gadgets, and pastimes that we do.  Paul and Jim can spend hours playing The Force Unleashed, and I’m pretty sure I can count on Alyson for opening night of every Twilight movie that is ever released.  Oh, and Alyson is also a blogger; be sure to check out her blog, A Day In the Life of… (especially on Funny Story Friday!)

3.  They have a really cute kid. I mean really cute.  Look at this face:

4.  There is always amazing food at their house. Alyson enjoys cooking and baking.  I enjoy eating.  A coincidence?  I think not.

5.  They are encouragers. It feels good to be around people who constantly and consistently lift others up with their joyful hearts and cheerful optimism.

6. When someone needs help, they are there. Are you moving this weekend?  Do you need an extra pair of hands for that home renovation project?  Are you laid up with the flu and unable get off the couch, let alone fix meals for your family?  You can pretty much guarantee that Jim or Alyson will be there with their sleeves rolled up, ready to go to work.

7.  They love God. And so do we.  Under all the laughter and the fun times, this is the bond that counts the most.  A friend that walks beside you on the road to heaven is one that you’ll have forever, and that is truly something to celebrate.

The delicious baked goods are just a really nice bonus.

10 Things I Found While Cleaning Out the Garage

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Paul is out of town this week, counseling at a Christian teen camp up in Northeast Washington state.  I love what he’s doing, but I hate being apart.  The house is too quiet, the bed is too big, and the ten thousand words I usually bestow upon him the minute he arrives home from work are building up, unsaid, inside my brain.  Also, it gets dark at night, and the house makes noises, and even though I’m 36 years old, I’m pretty sure that the bogeyman is lurking around waiting for me to turn out the lights so he can get me.  (I’ve never figured out what happens once the bogeyman gets you, but I don’t want to find out at this late date.)

Anyway, the week is crawling by.  So I thought I’d help fill it up by getting some work done around the house.  On Tuesday I washed, dried, and folded 9 loads of laundry.  On Wednesday, I did our monthly all-day grocery shopping extravaganza, with stops at Walmart, Super One, and Costco.  And today, four months after moving into our new home, I finally cleaned out the garage so that we can park in it.

It was hot, sweaty work, and I almost aborted the mission prematurely when I moved a box only to discover an angry coven of giant black spiders nesting in the corner behind it.  Five of them scattered in random directions, scuttling across the floor so fast that I barely had time to react before they had found new hiding places.  I killed one slowpoke with my broom, and then stood there for several minutes recovering from an attack of the heebie-jeebies.  The rest of the job went slowly as I had to perform the Icky Spider Dance of Girliness every time I brushed up against a gardening tool or felt a droplet of sweat running down my leg, but eventually, I got it done.

Behold!:

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10 Things I Found While Cleaning Out the Garage:

1.  The Klingon Dictionary. Boy, am I relieved to have this back!  Just the other day, I was whispering sweet nothings in Paul’s ear, and I wanted to tell him “bomDI’ ‘IwwIj qaqaw”, but I couldn’t remember where to put the second apostrophe. Nothing turns a geek into a pile of mush like Klingon love poetry.  (Just try to keep the spitting to a minimum.)

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2.  A poem I wrote in college about sardines. Here it is, for your pleasure:

Oh, the bliss of a fragrant sardine!
(Even though it turns some people green…)
The smell is just made to enthrall,
Though my roommate agrees not at all.
Little fishies in cute little rows
Are a treat for your mouth and your nose.
Packed in mustard and on a saltine,
There is nothing quite like a sardine!

3.  My wedding planner. No, I don’t have a coldly efficient forty year old woman with a walkie-talkie and a list of caterers hidden away in my garage.  But I do have the forty pound 3-ring binder packed with receipts and schedules that I used when Paul and I were planning our wedding in Searcy, Arkansas back in 1996.  I tucked it away in case our kids ever want to know how much my dress cost ($300), the name of our photographer (Ed Wilson), or the song that was playing when I walked down the aisle (God Has Smiled on Me).

4.  A picture of my high school boyfriend sitting in my Dad’s recliner. Little did he know that he was taking his life in his hands that day.  It’s a common enough mistake.  In fact, when Paul, My Future Husband, came home with me for Thanksgiving to meet my family, my Dad’s very first words to him were not “Nice to meet you,” but “Get out of my chair!” (Thinks he’s so funny, my dad!)

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5.  A French newspaper. In 1991, I spent six weeks living with a French family in Aurillac, France, as part of an exchange program.  It was a life changing and horizon-broadening experience.  One of the souvenirs I brought back was this newspaper.

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6.  My high school graduation cap. It was white.  Do you know how hard it was to find something to wear to graduation that wouldn’t show through a white graduation gown?

7. 1000 feet of 14 gauge A/V cable. I’m sure it’s good for something.  I just don’t know what.

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8. My lucky bandana. I carried this battered blue bandana on dozens of outdoor adventures when I was in middle school and high school–camping, white water rafting, backpacking, rappelling.  I tied it around my ankle to stop the bleeding when I cut it on a river rock.  I used it to keep the sweat out of my eyes while I climbed Mount Yonah. I thought I had lost it, but there it was tucked inside a duffle bag full of old camping stuff.  I can’t wait to use it again.  But I’m thinking maybe I should wash it first.

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9. My hoarded stash of gift boxes and bags. After our wedding showers, I collected all the bags and boxes like a good little bride, knowing that I would need them for future gift-giving occasions.  Then, I promptly lost them.  For thirteen years.  Perhaps they’ve been floating in and out of a rift in the time-space continuum.  Or maybe they were stolen by a very specific kind of burglar, who suffered an attack of conscience all these years later and sneaked into our garage to replace the plunder.  Or perhaps I’m just absent-minded.

Nah.  That can’t be it.

10.  Space for the car. That was the point of this whole journey, after all.  I can’t wait to go pick Paul up and drive him home, just so I can enjoy his surprise when we actually get to use the garage door opener to…wait for it…open the garage door and drive inside!  It may be a tight fit (Two-car garage?  Ha!), but we will finally be safe from the scorching sun and the drifting snow.

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Now to go cross one more completed project off my To Do List!

NaBloPoMo–The Prize

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Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo.  As you may recall, after I defaulted on the whole daily posting thing by a lousy 6 minutes and took a couple of days off to mourn my ineptitude, my friend Kathy (see, I mentioned you by name yet again, you blog hog, you) bribed me to continue my efforts with the promise of a Special Prize of Super Awesomeness.

Well, Kathleen, it’s time to pay the piper.  And by “piper”, I mean “blogger”.

The rest of this, my final NaBloPoMo post of 2008, shall be dedicated to guessing exactly what the Special Prize of Super Awesomeness might be.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1.  Floating Disco Ball.  No, I don’t have a pool or a hot tub, but now that I’ve seen this, I just might get one.

2.  Head Wizard Scalp Massager.  Sure, it looks like an alien brainsucker, but have you tried it?  Mmmm…

3.  Uglydoll.  Does ugly get any cuter than this?

4.  Inflatable Fruitcake.  As inedible as ever, but now less likely to attract bugs!

5.  Slanket.  On second thought, I don’t know if I want one of these.  Willie Ford might get jealous.

6.  Lego Ice Cube Tray.  Stack ’em before they melt!

7.  Bubble Wrap Calendar.  A guaranteed moment of bliss each day.

8.  Ninja Lessons.  Because knowing how to throw a shuriken could just save your life.

9.  Laptop Compubody Sock.  Everyone knows the most precious gifts are handmade.

And, of course, there’s always chocolate.

Tune in later to get the scoop…

Black Friday

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We fell into the booth at IHOP with the weary air of soldiers just in from the front lines.  Around us, the air hummed with frenetic, caffeine-fueled conversation and crinkled with the sound of riffling sales flyers as other Black Friday veterans, like us, stopped in to refuel before heading out in pursuit of the Next Great Deal.

Though I wish I could say that waking up at five a.m. to join the fray at local stores paid off in amazing savings, I have to be honest and admit that, of my morning’s two great triumphs, one turned out to still be available much later in the day and the other (a gift for Katie) I ended up returning because my Mom had bought the same one.  Essentially, I could have slept in, just like the half of the country’s population that would rather stay home and give themselves emergency scalp stitches with a sewing needle than venture out of the house on Black Friday for any reason, including blood or fire.

Yes, I could have spent the morning relaxing.  But then I would have missed all the fun!

I adore Black Friday.  I love the crowds.  I love the Christmas music playing in the stores.  I love the thrill of the hunt and the adrenaline rush of the capture.  I love the cheerful camaraderie that springs up between total strangers standing in line in the freezing cold at 5:30 in the morning.   I love turning over thoughts of my loved ones in my mind all day while I consider what gifts they might like.

This year was especially fun, thanks to my friend Kathy.

We’ve spent many Thanksgivings enjoying the friendship and feasting to be had at Steve and Kathy’s, laughing as we bustle around in the kitchen preparing food, sharing our blessings across the dining table, and playing games together. One of the traditions formed there finds us sitting at the table long after the dishes have been cleared away and the pie has been devoured, poring over the Everest-sized mountain of Black Friday ads from the Thursday paper, pen and notebook at the ready.

That’s when we map out The Strategy.

This year, we armed ourselves with cell phones (the better to share important sales information from across town), and agreed to meet late in the morning for breakfast to eat and swap war stories.

Stories like the check out line at Kohl’s that stretched all the way around the back of the store, making it nearly impossible to maneuver, let alone shop.  I quickly decided I didn’t want anything badly enough to stand in that line for it.

Or like the gentleman in line in front of Kathy and her mother-in-law Peggy who secretly paid for their purchases as well as his own.  “Just paying it forward,” he whispered to the cashier.

Or the bin of Webkinz Lil’Kinz at Walgreens surrounded by a cluster of grown men and women digging through like children at a candy store, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the cuteness of tiny puppies and hippos and panda bears.

We swapped information about unexpected bargains and which stores had run out of sales merchandise, revising our plans over delicious plates of bacon and eggs and hashbrowns.  And then, although we’d made our early morning forays solo, we joined forces to hit the last few stores, relaxed and revived.

Towards the end of the day, the first snow of the year showed up and I felt the Christmas season officially begin.

When I finally returned home to Paul late in the afternoon, I had a trunkful of adventures to share with him.  He made all the appropriate noises of appreciation and didn’t even think to ask how much I spent until the next day.

As for me, I put the bags in my closet, sat down with my feet up, and reveled in the feeling of a day well-spent, thankful for the resources to buy gifts and even more thankful that I have friends and family to buy them for.

Now if only there were some pumpkin pie left, life would be just about perfect.

Administrative Assistant 2.0

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The administrative assistant at Paul’s office is pretty cool. Actually, Melissa’s not his administrative assistant. She greases the organizational wheels for a whole fleet of geeks, and in that capacity, she puts up with more than her share of hacker hijinks. Like the day they kept using a remote command to make her CD drive slide open and shut over and over until she called in a hardware tech to find out why it was malfunctioning. Or the oh-so-hilarious fake error messages that pop up on her computer screen from time to time. Whatever they throw at her, she handles it all with the aplomb and good humor that must have been at the top of the list of job qualifications on her resume.

Melissa and her husband have a daughter around Caleb’s age, and our families have enjoyed getting together outside of work to hang out and get to know each other. She’s wonderful.

Today, though, I had to bump her up a few more notches on the Katrina Scale of Awesomeness when Paul walked into the office to find this t-shirt in his mailbox:

Apparently, Melissa and Chris came across it while shopping and thought of him immediately. Is it perfect, or what?

Happy New Year!

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The holiday break is coming to a close. As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t been blogging. I also haven’t been cleaning, shopping, doing laundry, or checking email.

I love vacation.

We’ve spent most of ours in a state of complete sloth. Of course, we’ve taken occasional breaks for loafing and idleness, and even managed to squeeze in some goofing off here and there. I haven’t gotten all my dilly-dallying in yet, but I’ve a got a big session of lazing planned for later tonight, so I don’t have much time to spend on this post.

In that spirit, I thought I’d just share some of our Christmas and New Year’s vacation highlights:

*We took the kids to see Santa at the mall the Saturday before Christmas. Katie’s not really into Santa anymore, but Caleb was eager to meet him. When we saw we were going to have to wait in a rather lengthy line, we tried to distract Caleb with offers to visit the game store or go get food, but he was having none of it. When the most impatient four year old in the world is willing to wait for forty minutes without complaining, you wait. This Santa was the best kind, truly jolly and sporting his own authentic beard. While standing in line, Paul and I waxed nostalgic about Katie’s first Santa photo, with a Santa who looked like at least two of the seven dwarves (Sleepy and Grumpy come to mind.) Another year, our Santa seemed to have tippled a little too much eggnog before showing up for work. Hopefully Rudolph did the driving. I guess when it comes to the mall Santas of the world, you just never know what you’re going to get!

*The kids were nearly vibrating with anticipation as Christmas Day approached. On Christmas morning, they let us sleep in until an amazing seven a.m. before a tiny voice in my ear was asking, “Is it time for stockings now?” The gifts and stocking stuffers carefully selected over the past several weeks lasted about three minutes under the onslaught of eager little hands, and before long all the plunder lay strewn across the living room floor. There were oohs and ahhs, an mp3 player for Katie, new superhero action figures for Caleb, and an Xbox360 game for Paul. As for me, my guy got me my heart’s desire: the wireless Bluetooth headphone/mic set I wanted for my laptop. Am I a lucky geek, or what?

*Christmas dinner at Grandpa and Grandma’s was truly a feast, thanks to Yvie’s culinary prowess. She and Dad really enjoyed their first Christmas together. We showed up the day after Christmas to partake of the traditional Turkey Hash: leftover turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes fried up together on the stove. Heavenly! I wish every day was Turkey Hash day.

*The snow really started piling up last week, and we had promised the kids we’d go sledding, so when our friends Jen and Arrty invited us all over on Saturday for a day of snow fun, hot chocolate, and games, we happily piled into the car with sled and snow gear, ready to hit the hills behind their house. In no time, a great sledding run was carved out of the deep powder and children and adults alike were taking turns careening at full speed down the embankment. I was the only one in our family without snow pants, and before too long, I was soaked to the bone and shivering. That’s when Jen taught me another mark of a true friend: she lets you wear her pajamas while your clothes are in the dryer.

*After eight months without a haircut, my mane was getting out of control–split ends, flyaways, do-nothing limp locks that hung like strands of wet seaweed against my skull. Every day I wore it in the same style, caught up in a metal barrette on top of my head to keep it from laying over my eyes. Finally, fed up, I decided to pay a visit to my friend Ada’s hairstylist, a miracle worker named Brittany. Several of my friends have emerged from her chair of Hair Transformation with beautiful new dos, so it was only a tiny bit scary to walk in and say, “Do whatever you want.” Half an hour later, I had layers. I had body. I had a new bottle of hair gel! I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

*About a month ago, thanks to the wonders of Netflix, Paul and discovered the already-hit show, Smallville. We lapped up Season One a disk at a time, impatiently waiting in between for Netflix to send our next fix. When we mentioned our new addiction to our friends Ryan and Regina, they delightedly informed us that they owned Seasons One through Five and proceeded to deliver the next two boxed sets to our door. We’ve been watching one or two episodes a night for a while, but once vacation started, we went on a total binge. In the last week, we’ve plowed our way through thirty-something episodes, and even as I type this, we are watching the the first hour of Season Five. (Paul didn’t want me to tell you that, but what’s a blog for, if not confessing your embarrassing secrets?)

*Paul and I didn’t have New Year’s Eve plans this year until Kathy and Steve called to see if we were interested in joining a casual hullabaloo at their place. Have you ever heard a roomful of kids all blowing party noisemakers at the top of their lungs? It’s a sound you only hear once in a lifetime (the permanent hearing damage guarantees it.) We set a spread of appetizers and desserts that you wouldn’t believe and the twelve of us barely put a dent in it. The girls kicked the boys’ butts in Three For All, not once but twice, and we toasted the arrival of the new year with virgin cran-tinis. Of course, being over thirty and having kids to put to bed, we celebrated our midnight moment along with Arkansas, Texas, and the rest of the Central time zone, at a modest ten p.m. Idaho time. We had a wonderful night, and Paul and I were home in time for a New Year’s revel of our own.

I hope that all of your holidays were equally merry and unproductive. I think I’m ready for 2008 now!