Thursday, December 31, 2009
Shawn and I had a very enjoyable anniversary (way back on December 21st). We went out to dinner using a gift card that we had received as a wedding gift (yes...we were given the gift card two years ago). We went to a place called the Palomino, which is a more upscale restaurant (though not overly fancy). Although everything we ate was good, my favorite part of the meal was actually our appetizer....a king crab and artichoke dip! Sooooo good!
On Christmas Eve, we flew to Ohio to spend the holidays with my family. The whole trip was pretty low-key, but it was very nice to get to spend time with everyone. While we were here, we also got to spend some time with my friend Sara (who I've actually known since I was three!) and my friend Lis (who I've been friends with since Junior High).
Today, we were originally scheduled to fly out at 6:00am, but when we attempted to drop off our bags, we were told that our flight had been oversold. We agreed to take a later flight in exchange for two free travel vouchers, so my poor parents came back to the airport (driving through the snow) to pick us up. We'll be hanging out here now until it's time to go back to the airport for our afternoon flight.
Unfortunately, this means that our evening plans will have to be changed, since we won't be getting in to Seattle until about 10:30 tonight. I doubt we'll be able to make it to our friends' party before midnight...so we may just have to ring in the New Year while in our car, driving back home. :)
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Last Friday, my facebook status had something to do with the fact that I hadn't started buying presents yet. Honestly...not a single gift (except for the ornament I bought for our "Nestie" gift exchange). Not even an anniversary gift for Shawn. So on Saturday morning, Shawn and I went shopping. And we didn't leave the living room. It was pretty awesome. :)
As of today, I think we have 3 more people we still need to buy for. Unfortunately, I think I might be on the verge of being too late to buy the rest online, so I might have to brave the mall area on Sunday. Should be interesting. :)
And as of right now (midnight, Wednesday night), I have 50 Christmas cards written...70ish to go! Oh, and Shawn still needs to sign them. And they need to be addressed. And stamped. And sealed. My goal is to have them finished by Friday night so they can be dropped off at the post office on Saturday. Wish me luck!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
As I got older, it finally dawned on me that there are lots of different kinds of gifts. I spent a lot of time as a teenager volunteering with different groups and organizations. I think that the willingness to give of yourself and of your time is a gift that people often don't consider. As an adult, I realized that one of my gifts is the ability to handle of group of middle school and/or high school students without losing my sanity, so I taught Religious Ed to 6th and 7th graders at church for a few years.
Since getting married, though, and moving up here, I haven't really been doing much in the way of using the gifts God has given me. I think this is probably the case for a lot of us...and I think I might know why. Another sermon/lesson I remember hearing a lot is the importance of being humble. Don't think of yourself as being better than others...right? Don't be proud. And yet, to be able to use the gifts God has given you, you have to acknowledge that you are gifted in a certain area, don't you? You have to be able to think, "Yes, I am good at *this*, and here's what I can do with that."
I finally started acknowledging a couple of my God-given gifts lately. #1 - I really don't mind public speaking. It's been a long time since I've gotten nervous to stand in front of a crowd and talk. And #2 - I'm good at reading out loud. I actually enjoyed having opportunities to read out loud to my students, and they would occasionally ask me to do it for them.
So a few weeks ago, I volunteered to become a Lector at our church. If you're not Catholic...a Lector is someone who reads the Scripture readings to the congregation during Mass. I was privileged to be one of the Lectors at Mass each of the last two Sundays, and if I do say so myself, I did a pretty good job. :-)
I was particularly happy to find out that one of the readings I was responsible for (the second reading this past Sunday) was one of my all-time favorite passages. I think it's one that just about anybody can relate to...so here it is!
Philippians 4:4-7 "Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I had heard a lot of buzz around the internet about this book, which is pretty impressive considering it just came out last year. I'm sure part of the reason for all the hype is that A) it's a good book, and B) the sequel came out a couple months ago. It actually made the New York Times bestseller list.
The story is set in the nation of Panem, which is located in the ruins of a place once known as North America. This nation is comprised of the Capitol and 12 surrounding Districts. The Capitol controls everybody, and to help keep everyone in line, they hold the "Hunger Games" once a year. One boy and one girl (between the ages of 12 and 18) from each District are chosen by lottery to participate in the games, where the 24 tributes fight to the death.
I actually read the majority of this book in one day. Granted, it's a "Young Adult" novel, so it's a fast read, but it's good enough that I didn't want to put it down. I put in a request at the library for the sequel; there are 34 "holdable copies" in our library system, and I started at #170 on the waiting list. I think the quote I found from Katie Roiphe of The Wall Street Journal says it well: It's "[A] stylish, postmodern Lost in direct collision with The Lord of the Flies. It's a little science fiction, a little survival story, and a little social commentary, all wrapped up together.
I really enjoyed this book, and if you can find a copy of it, I definitely recommend it!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
On Thursday, most of my day was spent cooking! I did have a bit of help in the kitchen, and I was able to keep an eye on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We also had the football games on (except the Broncos game, which was only shown on the NFL Network...which we don't get as part of our cable package here), and Shawn had some time to play with his nephews.
We ended up having so much food on Thursday! Much of what I made was the same as last year, but that's okay with me! For munchies before dinner, I made the caramel toffee fruit dip and served it with apple slices, and we had baby carrots and celery. Shawn's mom made roasted garlic that she served with bread and cheese. For the actual dinner, I made cranberry sauce, corn casserole, the turkey (of course!), gravy (I'll admit...this came from a packet), mashed potatoes, fried sweet potatoes, and dinner rolls. Shawn made a salad for us, but unfortunately, people seemed to avoid the more healthy options that day. :) We had some friends over, too, and our friend Annie brought some yummy stuffing and the traditional green bean casserole. Another friend brought some desserts...a pumpkin cheesecake and a cranberry-orange trifle. I also made a milk chocolate pecan pie and the same apple pie I made last year. Oh, and we had both whipped cream and ice cream available. :)
Needless to say....we were all really full by the time we finished eating! It was so nice to be able to host a holiday meal for family and friends! I'm hoping that this was just the first of many that Shawn and I can put together. :)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday was Shawn's last rugby game of the fall season. Although they lost, they played pretty hard. Now Shawn has a couple weeks with no rugby at all...and then "spring training" begins. We think it's funny that "spring" training starts in early December (which is before "winter" even begins!).
Shawn's family has come to visit us and spend Thanksgiving with us! I went to the airport to pick up Shawn's mom tonight, while Shawn waited here for his brother's family to arrive. So for the better part of this week, we'll have a pretty full house! Shawn's brother and sister-in-law drove up from California with our two nephews (ages nine and five and a half). Shawn was brilliant earlier this week, and he saved the boxes that our new chairs came in. So while the adults took some time to relax after the long drive, Shawn and the boys turned the cardboard into a pretty awesome fort. Great way to let the boys run off some energy!
For the next few days, I'll be working from home while Shawn takes his family to do some touristy things around the area. I'll also need to do some more shopping for the Thanksgiving meal. I'll try to do a few posts throughout the week to show what all we're up to!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The author tells two stories simultaneously, so the chapters tend to go back and forth between a modern time and the 17th century. The modern story centers on Leonora Manin, and the 17th century story centers on Corradino Manin...Leonora's famous, glassblowing ancestor.
The plot line itself is an intriguing story about an aspect of Venetian history, and it makes me want to do a little research to find out how much is actual fact (versus the author's invention). But it's also a story of family, love of country, and honor.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is how much the author drew on some classic Italian works. She often mentions the Italian painters that I love (such as Titian and Botticelli), and the characters frequently reference Dante's Divine Comedy. Even Shakespeare is mentioned (as an English contemporary of Corradino's).
I really enjoyed this book, and now I want to go back to Venice. :)
Monday, November 16, 2009
Shawn was much more creative than me, and he went as Professor Chaos. (He said I should tell you that I "was a good minion.")
Sunday, November 15, 2009
He did come home with more paint. And some bags for our leaves. And a new toy.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Once we moved, Shawn started talking about the possibility of switching his gym memberships. He's been going regularly for a few years now, and although he's been happy with his gym, driving 25 minutes to get there isn't super convenient. I thought it would be a good time to suck it up and try a gym myself.
There's an Anytime Fitness really close to our house, so we decided to check it out. Basically, it's staffed during the day, but your member keycard allows you to get in 24/7. I like that it's close to home, and I actually like that it's small. We've never seen it crowded, and I can actually figure out how to use all the machines. So a few weeks ago, after taking advantage of the free 7-day trial pass, we both signed up for memberships here!
This is actually the first time I've ever had a gym membership. Before the wedding, I got a 20-visit punch card for the Rec Center...and I never actually finished using up the 20 visits. But this time, I'm proud to say that over the last four weeks, I've actually been going a few times a week! Usually, Shawn and I go together, which is really nice. Frankly, he usually is my motivation for going...why should I stay at home by myself doing nothing, when I could just go with him to the gym?
So, we'll see how this goes! We signed a contract for a year, so hopefully knowing that we're paying for it will help give me some extra motivation, too. Who knows? Maybe I'll be fit by the time I'm 32. :-)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Our front door has two locks on it...the main door lock and the deadbolt. One key worked both locks. Lately, just to save time, I've gotten in the habit of locking the main lock from the inside before I leave the house. That way, I only need to use the key to lock the deadbolt.
This evening, Shawn and I headed out. On my way out the door, I locked the main lock from the inside. Then Shawn came out and closed the door. And then it occurred to us to wonder which of us had brought our keys. Um...that would be neither of us. D'oh!!
Our neighbor was outside at the time, working on her yard. Since every window and door in our house was locked, she gave us her phone book and a recommendation for a locksmith she's used before. While we waited for him to show up, Shawn and I did a little weeding, and we kicked around a soccer ball (that Shawn found in the yard of the vacant house next door). Once the locksmith arrived, it was almost scary to see just how quickly he was able to get through our front door. And since he was already here...Shawn asked him how hard it would be to get keys for the rest of our doors. Turns out, the locksmith was able to change the locks on our back door and garage doors very quickly, and now we can use our front door key on any of them! He also gave us an additional spare key, which is nice.
So...getting keys to those doors was on our house to-do list. We just didn't realize that would be something we'd be checking off our list this weekend!
We figured kids would start arriving shortly after dark...maybe around 6:00. The first kid didn't show up until just after 7:00. We didn't actually count the number of kids who eventually came to our door, but we're guessing maybe 30...max. So even though we gave multiple pieces of candy to each dressed up child, we didn't use nearly nine bags. I suggested at one point that we just hand the next kid an unopened bag of candy.
What's happened to Trick-or-Treat? I know that kids still do this...at least, they do in Colorado. Even my high school students would go out on Halloween. Maybe it's just not a big deal around here? Or maybe kids/parents are afraid of a little rain? It definitely wasn't raining hard tonight, but maybe it was enough that it kept the kids inside? If that's the case...do kids in the Pacific Northwest never leave the house?? I realized quite awhile ago that if I wasn't willing to do things in the rain, I'd never do anything at all. But that's what rain pants and jackets and umbrellas are for, right?
Oops...sorry about the little side rant. But for future reference...note to self: No apparent need to buy any more than 3 bags of Halloween candy. I hope Shawn's coworkers want fun-size Snickers, Reese's Cups, and Hershey's miniatures, because he and I really do NOT need to eat all this ourselves!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
More than a week ago (October 17), Shawn played an awesome rugby match. He was named "Man of the Match" (basically the MVP of the game) and he even scored a try! In rugby lingo, that's basically a touchdown. And for the position that Shawn plays, that's fairly uncommon. I would liken it to a Linebacker scoring a touchdown. It's certainly not impossible, but it's not something you see every game. In fact, until that game, I'd never seen Shawn score a touchdown in a "regular" game of rugby! (I saw him score once in a 7s tournament.) I was on camera duty that afternoon, but his scoring play was on the other end of the pitch, so I didn't get a picture.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I've noticed lately that I haven't been loving most of the books I've been reading. I've given most of them 3 stars (on Goodreads, that indicates that "I liked it"); a few of them have gotten four stars. I was glad to pick up Voyager a week ago...definitely a five-star book!
This is Book #3 in Gabaldon's series that started with Outlander. It continues the story of Claire and Jamie Fraser. In this book, Claire goes back to 18th century Scotland to find Jamie, after she discovers (through historic research) that he didn't die during the battle of Culloden like they both thought he would. At this point, they've been apart for 20 years, but they're both completely happy to finally be together again. However, a lot has changed in Scotland during this time, and certainly not everyone is happy that Claire is back.
Just like the other two books, this one is wonderfully written. This book is 870 pages, but it never feels like it's long or drawn out. I usually don't want to put the book down because I'm so interested to see what might happen to Claire and Jamie (and their friends and family) next. If you haven't read the Outlander series yet, you definitely should. I'm glad that there are still three more books left in the series, but I do plan on spreading them out, like I have the first three.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I picked up this book at the library, thinking my friend Lis had said it was one of her favorites (in one of those silly Facebook "which of these books have you read" things). But I just double-checked it...and no, she likes Middlemarch. Oops...I read the wrong George Eliot novel. Oh well!
Silas Marner is a linen weaver who is wrongly accused of a crime. He exiles himself to a different village and basically becomes a recluse, only interacting with others in the town when they need him to do some weaving. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but Silas does eventually begin to interact with his neighbors after he himself becomes the victim of a crime. And as it says on the back cover of my copy of the book, "Ultimately, Marner finds redemption and spiritual rebirth through his unselfish love for an abandoned child who mysteriously appears one day in his isolated cottage."
One of the major themes of this book is that everything happens for a reason, and this is something that I wholeheartedly believe. Even things that seem negative at the time often have a way of turning into something good.
I'm going to have to say that this is another one of the books that I think I would've liked better if I had just read it faster. I do enjoy George Eliot's style of writing, but I felt that this book took a LONG time to get to one of the main plot threads of the novel (and to introduce one of the main characters). But it is definitely worth reading! I've also learned that in 1994, Steve Martin wrote and starred in a movie based on this novel, called A Simple Twist of Fate. I might have to see if I can find that. :)
Friday, October 16, 2009
We do eventually want to paint both bathrooms, and I'd like to paint the downstairs family room. But the next room on our list is the 4th bedroom...the one downstairs. AKA, the Man Room. Or the Preparation Room. Whatever you want to call it. Basically, since I've known Shawn, he's let me know that he would eventually love to have a room where he can keep all of his outdoor gear...camping gear, hiking gear, rock climbing gear, outdoor clothing, trail maps, technique books, etc... He loves the idea of having everything well organized and easily accessible in one room. When he's ready to go out and do something, he can use this room to prepare for it (hence the "preparation room" name).
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Yeah...something tells me that raking the leaves isn't going to be such a "minor" detail for us. Do you remember this picture I posted a month or two ago? It shows a very small part of the very large tree we have in our backyard.
Although both Shawn and I really like this tree (okay, I'll admit it...Shawn likes it way more than I do), a very large tree comes with some very large leaves. Like this one.
Now, you should keep in mind that this is actually a fairly small leaf for this tree. This was just the biggest one I could find that had already fallen to the ground. Many of the ones still attached (and especially the ones much higher up) are easily double the size of this leaf. And there are lots of them! Maybe you can kinda see it better in this picture.
So that explains part of what we're up against. Have I mentioned (or have you just noticed it for yourself by now) that this is some kind of a maple tree? Maple trees have "helicopters." At least, that's what we called them when we were kids, because as they drop from the tree, they spin around and look like helicopters. You know...these things:
Well, our very large maple tree with its very large leaves also has very large helicopters. Again, that was one of the smaller ones. And not only are these helicopters rather large....there are thousands of them!! All those brown things in this picture are helicopters, and again, this is just a very small section of the tree, near the bottom.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Almost as soon as we got home, a couple women from our church came over to do our House Blessing! Instead of sending a priest every time someone wants their home blessed, our church has commissioned lay people to do the blessing ceremony. I thought it was really nice! The four of us started at the front door to start with some prayers and a Scripture reading. Then we went from room to room, saying a prayer appropriate to the room's use ("bless the meals that are prepared in this kitchen") and sprinkling holy water. They also gave us a nice little plaque-type thing that we can hang up.
Overall, we had a great weekend, and we're looking forward to a good week!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
We picked up a carpet cleaner while we were at Safeway. Once we got back to the house, I actually went out to lunch with a friend of mine (at the Applebee's that's also less than half a mile from our house!), while Shawn stayed home to get started on the carpet cleaning. He said that our power actually went out for a little while, but he did already have one room done by the time I got home. As I'm typing this, we've gotten 3 of the four bedrooms done, and the downstairs family room. Our plan is to do the living room and the hallway right before we go to bed tonight, and then we'll do our master bedroom after we get up in the morning. Here's Shawn cleaning the office/guest room.
One thing that we really love about this neighborhood is our friendly neighbors! Shawn met a neighbor while he was getting the mail this afternoon (about 8 mailboxes are all together, right across the street from our house). This neighbor, Jim, let Shawn borrow his lawnmower! So Shawn mowed our lawn this afternoon. It was definitely a job that desperately needed to be done!
While Shawn mowed the lawn, I actually cleaned out the car. It's so nice to have a driveway to do things like this in instead of dealing with an apartment complex parking lot! And some neighbors that we had met a couple weeks ago (the first weekend we had the keys) drove by...and honked and waved. Such a nice feeling!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday...we were up by 6:00am! When Shawn left to pick up the moving truck at 9:00, I stayed back and kept packing. Five of our friends (and a baby) showed up around 10:30, and we all managed to get everything from the apartment and into the house in just over five hours! It was pretty impressive, and we're incredibly grateful for our friends' willingness to help! We couldn't have done it without them.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
So...it's October 1st. Absolutely nothing is slowing down for us right now...we're moving on Sunday! Fortunately, I got all caught up last night with my teaching (as of 11:00pm, I officially had no assignments left to grade, no messages to respond to, and no discussion board posts to read). I have a couple meetings today, but I'm hoping to spend most of today doing things to get ready for the move. Here's what we're hoping to get done in the next three days!
- PACK!! As of right now, I've packed a whopping 5 boxes. Yep. That's it.
- Paint: We still need to paint the stairwell and downstairs hallway, the downstairs bedroom, all of the trim, and the bedroom doors.
- Clean carpets: A friend and coworker of Shawn's is lending us his heavy-duty carpet cleaner. Eventually we would like to replace the carpet, but we just don't have the time or money for that right now, so a deep clean will have to do.
- Put outlet and switch covers back on.
- Purchase and install shower curtain rods.
- Purchase and put down shelf paper in the bathrooms. Whatever used to be lining the vanity cabinets and drawers is no long there...and there's a disgusting residue left over that I can't scrub off.
- Power wash and stain deck. Something tells me the deck's not getting done this weekend, but I'm putting it on the list anyway.
There's definitely more to be done, but I think everything else can pretty easily wait until after the move. In fact, I think some things (like installing the entryway chandelier) will be easier after we've moved in. I did feel bad that Shawn had to spend a beautiful Sunday a couple weeks ago working, but that does mean that he can take off Friday without using a vacation day. So what do you think....do we have any chance of getting all this done before we pick up the moving truck at 9am on Sunday? :-)
I've often heard good things about this book, but I've avoided reading it. I read another book by the same author (The Mermaid Chair), which I did NOT like, so I was worried that this book would be similar. However, I was given a new section of English to teach, and one of the required readings for the course is this book. Considering I'm supposed to be grading assignments based on the book...I figured I'd better read it!
I actually really liked the book! It's set in South Carolina in the summer of 1964. Lily is a 14-year old girl who leaves home in search of information about her mother (who died when Lily was only 4). One of the few things Lily has that belonged to her mother is a picture of a Black Madonna with "Tiburon, South Carolina" written on the back. This picture leads Lily to the Boatwright sisters, who keep bees and make "Black Madonna Honey."
This book is a story about love, about mothers and daughters, about friendship, about racism, and about healing after emotional pain. It's beautifully written, and the characters are very likeable. It's definitely worth the read!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Considering that I'm such a big fan of baseball, I can't believe that I had never read this book! (And I've still never seen the movie.) As the back of my copy says, "The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, is also the first -- and some would say still the best -- literary novel written about baseball.
I really enjoyed this book. It was quite different from everything else I've been reading lately! It tells the story of Roy Hobbs, a man with incredible baseball talent who is actually a rookie in the Majors at the age of 35 (due to an "accident" earlier in his life). It's interesting to see how the other players, the coach, and even the fans respond to him...first being skeptical, then being accepting, and then practically worshipping him.
I liked all of the "baseball" elements that were included in this book. I do think that someone who's not a big baseball fan could read this book and enjoy it just for the story; however, I think that having some understanding of the significance of the baseball jargon definitely helps to appreciate the actual writing style. I like the quote (again, on the back of my copy) by Alfred Kazin: "[Malamud] has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology."
Especially if you're a fan of baseball, I definitely recommend this book!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Master doesn't technically have its own bathroom. However, it does have a "dressing area." It's this little vanity and another closet, and this area connects to the main bathroom on the floor. (Note: we discovered on Sunday that the door from the Master to the bathroom doesn't really close entirely. It'll pop open at any given moment. Something else to be fixed.)
For most of the Master bedroom, I used the roller while Shawn did the detail work at the ceiling, floor, corners, and trim.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Since neither of us has done much painting in awhile, we decided that the first room we painted should be one that wouldn't be a big deal if we messed it up a bit. So...exhibit A. This is the bedroom that I'm guessing used to be a nursery for twins. We've decided to make it our office/guest room. A few days ago, it was a bright, cheery yellow.
With vinyl words attached to the wall. I'm guessing they were over cribs...they just seem to be that height. The other set said, "I'm a princess with an attitude!" Cutesy, no? But not really what we had in mind for our office. I figured I could peel them off...they're basically stickers. I thought my fingernails would do the trick, and a putty knife would be a good backup (with spackle, if necessary).
Fortunately, a friend on facebook had a brilliant suggestion. A hairdryer!! After about 60 seconds of hot air blasting onto the letters...
...the letters basically peeled right off! The backs of the letter actually remained rather sticky, so I'm thinking if I'd really wanted to salvage them, I probably could've. I didn't. :)
Once the words were off the walls, I started washing down the walls with TSP. Shawn taped around all the trim, and then we dove in to the painting. I have to admit that it was a little nerve wracking to put the roller to the wall the first time.
We switched off some for this room, but I think Shawn was pretty handy with the paintbrush, taking care of the trim. We got the first coat done on this room on Saturday night, and we did a second coat on Sunday. (We'll admit that we're a bit annoyed by the fact that we needed two coats, considering that we bought the expensive paint based on the recommendation of the paint guy at Lowe's who told us that it would eliminate the need for primer and also would most likely cover just fine in one coat.)
Oh, just to clarify...before we did the second coat, Shawn's friend David showed us how to get the blinds off the window, so yes...those did come down. :) We haven't painted the trim yet (that'll probably be Tuesday evening), so I'll post official "after" pics of the room when that's done.