Proud Sister

This post is dedicated to my little brother.  Last week was his basketball team’s senior night, and I was lucky enough that it was a late game and I was able to go after work to watch him play.  I am so proud of my brother and how hard he works.  He is so much more dedicated than I ever was at his age.  I know I am late in posting these pictures, but it was a long weekend and I just didn’t have time until now to go through the gazillion pictures I took that evening.  Besides, better late than never.










Sporting some customized hair

We were blessed that he had a huge cheering section of adoring family members, including the Minnesota cousins and all three crazy older sisters. 

Feb 2012(In retrospect, maybe it’s just one crazy sister, and I think we all know who that is!)

My parents & my brother shared some nice moments together before the game when they introduced all of the senior players.

Feb 2012

And then it was time for the game . . . Lights, camera, action!

Feb 20121

My brother did a fantastic job.  I am so happy that I got the opportunity to be there and watch him play on his big night.


A February Weekend

Believe it or not, there were more exciting happenings this weekend than the Unfriendly’s jumping into a first place tie with Macy’s on my List.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Nathan & I missed all the fire hoopla next door because we went to a gymnastics meet on Friday night with my mom and my cousins Amber & Mary.  We had tickets to the Pink Out at Oregon State University, which is an annual gymnastics meet in support of breast cancer research.  My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor, as well as two of my aunts.  I know several more women who have been affected by the disease; some have beaten it and some have not.  You would be hard pressed to find a person who doesn’t know a woman affected by breast cancer.  Breast cancer awareness is so important, and there are just too many women out there who do not make their own health a priority.  Every woman should know how to do a monthly self-exam, but so many don’t.  Or they know how, but they just don’t do them (I confess, even knowing all the risks, I am often guilty of this, and that is the kind of habit that we women need to change).  The more awareness we can raise and research that we can fund, the closer we are to a cure.  And I support any organization that supports that.

IMGP0093  IMGP0101

One of the most amazing highlights of this gymnastics meet was that we made the big screen fan cam not once, but TWICE!  We actually did not see it happen the first time, I only know about that one because my friend Stephanie texted me from the other side of the arena to tell me that she saw me on it.  I was so disappointed!!!  Those who know me know that it has been my goal to get on that screen for the last four years.  I couldn’t believe that it had finally happened, and I MISSED it!!!  Luckily, during the next rotation of warm-ups, the fan cam caught Stephanie and her boyfriend, and as we cheered for them the fan cam turned to zoom in on us next!  I credit our fantastic pink outfits and pom poms!  I am still waiting for my call from Hollywood, but never fear, it will come (someday).

One thing I had really been looking forward to at this meet was that UCLA was competing, because they have a gymnast from the 2008 Olympics on their team named Samantha Peszek.  I was really looking forward to seeing her compete, because how often to do you get the chance to see an Olympic gymnast perform in person???  Pretty much never, at least in my world.  I came away majorly disappointed though.  She only competed in one event (beam), and she fell off.  Her routine was great (and difficult) up to the point that she fell, so it’s not even so much that she fell, but more that she didn’t do any other events.  Seriously, she’s an Olympic gymnast and you’re telling me the only event she is good enough to do for UCLA is beam?  Yeah, right.  She could probably dust their other gymnasts on every event.  BUT, OSU came away with some great performances and tied for the win with UCLA, and that was good enough for me.

The other exciting thing from this weekend was a trip that we took to Portland on Saturday, to see the most magical Disney musical of all time:


I bought these tickets in December, and I am so glad that I did.  My mom took my sister and I to see this when we were little kids.  13 years and several musicals later, it still held a place in my heart as the best I ever saw.  When I found out it was coming to Oregon, I had to buy tickets, even though it was a major splurge.  I am so thankful that I did, because it was just as magical as I remember, even though I am all grown up.  I had been concerned about our seats being off to the side and far back, but they turned out to be fantastic, and the performances were amazing.  I particularly liked Lumiere (the enchanted candle) and Gaston, but all the performers were fantastic.  Belle had the perfect voice, she sounded so much like the Belle from the movie.  I walked around the whole next day singing “Be Our Guest” to myself.  If you have never seen this musical, do yourself a favor and find a way to see it.  The traveling Broadway tour is presented by NetWorks, and you can find tour dates and information on their website here.

I hope everyone has a fun rest of the week.  I will be spending mine working, harassing Macy’s, and trying to run off this excess holiday weight.  Ladies, in honor of breast cancer awareness, let’s all do ourselves a favor and make sure to do a self-exam this week.


Hi-Di-Ho, Good Neighbor! Do You Smell Smoke?

Nathan and I have had our fair share of bad neighbors.  Back in the day, there were the neighbors fondly known as the “White Trash Neighbors” who held a garbage garage sale in their yard, and when the weekend was over pulled a tarp over everything and left it that way for the next three months (other offenses included a million yappy Pomeranians and common-sense challenged children who played in the street or OUR yard).  Then there were the “Melanoma Twins”, who had a penchant for sunbathing on their unfenced back patio (which faced our front door) in sixty degree weather in all their beer belly glory.  There was the kid down the street who played cards in our driveway one day and left one there – Nathan put them at the edge of the yard for him to pick up, and the next day the kid left him a threatening (for a five year old) note that said “Give Me Back My Card”.

These days we have the “Car Washers” across the street, who wash their car every other week, rain or shine, and stare at us the whole time without saying anything.  We have the large ethnic family next to them, who seem to have family reunions every other weekend that require them to take up every parking space on our street, and whose teenagers are fond of blasting ear-drum splitting music out of their garage.  Then there are the neighbors on the other side who insist on putting their trash cans in front of our house instead of their own, thereby blocking the mailbox and starting a war between my husband and the lazy (cranky) mailman.

But this weekend, our neighbors in the adjoining townhouse took the prize for “Worst Neighbor of the Year”.  Until now, their biggest offense was that the female half is Mrs. Unfriendly, and they let their children play in our yard.  That was before Friday night.

Nathan & I had gone out for dinner and to an Oregon State gymnastics meet (more on that later).  We had been gone since early afternoon and didn’t get home until after 10 pm.  As we drove up, Nathan commented that the neighbors must be going out of town, because they already had their trash cans out for Monday.  Mr. Unfriendly was in his driveway loading things into his car and (predictably) ignored us as we walked inside. 

So we walk inside, and immediately cringe because our living room STINKS.  It was this awful chemically smell that neither of us could identify.  We searched high and low, established that nothing was burning or leaking.  We aired out the house until we froze, but as soon as we shut the windows the smell settled back in.  We thought it might be coming from the garage but couldn’t really tell.  Since the smell seemed mostly isolated to the living room, and there was nothing we could do about it, we decided to go to bed (and hope that we weren’t poisoned by fumes in our sleep).

The next morning I was woken at the crack of dawn by doors slamming and banging outside.  It was so loud that I thought someone had come into our house.  No one was here, of course, and I assumed it was one of our rowdy neighbors.  They were noisy all morning, eventually waking Nathan up as well.  We had no idea what was going on and wrote it off as all the crazy people in our neighborhood.  Until we walked outside to the car and saw Mr. & Mrs. Unfriendly’s garage.


(Keep in mind that this picture was taken a day later, under the cover of night, so that it does not appear that we are stalking our neighbors.)

The first thing we noticed was the plywood.  It was weird, but certainly explained the noise.  Then we noticed that the trash bins at the edge of the driveway were black, and turning back towards the garage noticed that the fire extinguisher cabinet was broken open.  The plywood was propped out, leaving an opening into the garage, and no one was around so Nathan peeked in.  The garage was empty but the walls were completely covered in soot, and it smelled like the chemically smell in our house times ten.  They had a fire in their garage Friday evening!

We knew they were okay, since the house was still standing and we had seen them last night.  The bigger concern was that their house caught fire on the ONE adjoining wall that we share with them – our garage – yet Mr. Unfriendly did not think this little tidbit was worth sharing with us when we walked past him Friday night?  How hard is it to say, “Oh by the way, we had a fire today.  Almost burned your house down, but no worries.  Do you have renter’s insurance?”  Hellooo!!!!

The chemically smell has since faded from our house.  The Unfriendly’s had contractors over all day today, who blocked our driveway and gave us yet another reason not to like them.  They still haven’t said a word to Nathan or I, although they did manage to clean their trash cans.  The chemically smell is slowly fading from our garage, but the dislike of our neighbors is not.  We both feel that a fire in a garage that shares a wall with our house is something worth mentioning to your neighbor.  Just a thought.

Someday, we hope to live in a neighborhood with NORMAL neighbors.  We don’t even have very high standards for normal at this point, so it shouldn’t be that hard to find.  But for now, we’ll settle for a house with no shared walls.  Someday, we’ll find our Wilson.


The Evil Empire (aka, Macy’s)

This week, Macy’s has officially taken over the position of my Number One Enemy.  My list of enemies is rather long (Eli Manning, the New York Jets, bugs, rodents, farm animals, United Behavioral Health, the State of Florida, neighbors, and dust, to name a few), so to take over the number one spot is a fairly impressive feat to say the least.

Nathan and I had some Macy’s gift cards that we received as wedding gifts.  We decided to use them to buy additional sets of dishes.  From the end of January to mid-February, they held a big home sale in which you also got 20% off your remaining wedding registry items.  Our dishes were on sale for buy one get one free, so we were able to get four sets for approximately $28 each, when they normally sell for $72.  We were going to go to the store, but then realized why drive 30 miles when we could get free shipping online?  I was over the moon about this awesome deal.  Unfortunately, this is where my happiness ended.

When our dishes arrived, Nathan & I opened the sets up to check that the dishes were all in good condition.  In three of the four sets, there was a problem with the bowl.  One was chipped, one had paint discoloration, and the other did not have the brand stamp on the bottom like every other dish does (seems small, but Nathan pointed out that when you pay that much money for dishes, you should have proof of what they are.  And I agree with him.).

I was frustrated that we would have to send back three sets, but we had to exchange a set with a broken bowl a few months earlier and it was really easy, so I didn’t think much of it.  At that time, I had called Macy’s and explained the situation, they sent out a new set the same day and I sent the damaged set back at their expense.  The whole process took less than a week and was fairly painless.

So, on February 6th I called Macy’s about this most recent problem and explained what had happened.  The girl I talked to seemed really confused, and kept asking me what kind of bowls I wanted to exchange for (cereal, soup, salad, etc.).  I explained that it came in a SET, not individual pieces (which should have been obvious considering that my order was for four PLACESETTINGS, not four bowls), and it was just described on the set as a bowl, period.  She finally came to the conclusion I had originally anticipated, which was that she would send out three new sets and I would send back the three damaged sets.  She said I would probably get charged for the return shipping and I would have to call and ask for it to be waived.  I asked if maybe I wouldn’t be better off exchanging them at the store, and she said she didn’t think I could even return them to the store.  She said that the dishes would be sent out that day and that everything would be communicated to me by e-mail.  The whole thing seemed like a lot more hassle than our original return, but I figured as long as I got my non-damaged dishes, who really cares?  That was my first mistake.

So on Tuesday the 7th, Nathan packaged up the damaged sets and took them to FedEx to be sent back.  Fast forward to last weekend.  Still not a single bit of communication from Macy’s.  No change to my order status on Macy’s.com.  No charges on my credit card.  Mysterious, no?  I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they were waiting for my first dishes to be returned. That was my second mistake.

Sunday night, I received an e-mail from Macy’s.  “YAY!”, I thought, “They finally got their act together and shipped our new dishes”.  THIRD MISTAKE.  Their e-mail was thanking me for my recent e-mail to customer service (also mysterious, since I never e-mailed them), and telling me to call them because they needed information from me about my order to process my request.  Grrrr.  But okay, I would call them, and then everything would be fine and dandy.  (HA! MY FOURTH MISTAKE! WHY DO I CONTINUE TO HOPE FOR THE BEST IN PEOPLE?)

So, Monday the 13th I call Macy’s again.  I give the girl my order number and tell her I am calling in response to an e-mail request from them.  She pulls up my order and says, “So, tell me about your order”.  I want to scream, but I calmly tell her about our damaged dishes, the phone call on the 6th, that we returned the dishes on the 7th, and received the e-mail last night.  She asks me what is wrong with the bowls.  I tell her the same thing I told the rep on the 6th, and remind her that I have already told them this.  She then places me on hold, comes back and says she is holding for a senior to help her with my order (why???), and then puts me BACK on hold.  After several minutes, she comes back and says they have sent a request to the warehouse for three new sets of dishes to be sent to me today.  I ask how I will be able to follow up on this order if there are questions.  She says I should receive e-mail communication regarding all of it.  I tell her this is what they told me last week, and I did not receive a single e-mail.  Her reply?  “Well, you are supposed to get e-mails”.  Well, that’s freaking fantastic, but it doesn’t make it true.  Regardless, I decide to not argue the point because now they have clearly gotten the answer to whatever their mystery question was, so even though I had to have a repeat of last week’s conversation, at least my dishes are on their way. 


It is now officially Friday, February 17th.  11 days after my first call and 4 days after the second.  I have yet to get a single e-mail from Macy’s regarding any progress on my order.  I have yet to receive any money refunded back.  I paid $114 and currently possess one set of dishes.  And I am beyond mad.




Love Is All You Need

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s funny how the meaning of Valentine’s Day changes as you get older.  When you are a kid, it’s all about who to give your cheesy Disney valentines to.  As a teenager, it’s all about whether some cute boy sent you balloons or flowers at school.  When you FINALLY have an actual boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, it’s so exciting to show off what he gets you (and anxiety inducing to figure out the equally perfect gift for him).  And now that I am an adult, and Valentine’s Day has lost most of its nervous anticipation, I see it more as a day to be thankful for the love that I have everywhere in my life, from my husband to my family.  A time to spend with the people who mean the most to me, even if it means staying at home doing absolutely nothing besides enjoying each others company.  The presents and flowers don’t mean much compared to all the love that is present in my life.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I want to share two pictures of love – my parents on their wedding day (July 14, 1984), and Nathan and I on ours (December 17, 2011).



We’re Still Here!

No, I did not fall into a Patriot jersey lined pit of despair after Sunday’s game.  I am not happy about the loss, but at least it wasn’t a total shock like the Super Bowl after the 2007 season.  What with the Gronkle and the pitiful excuse of a defense, its actually quite the feat that they made it there in the first place, and if they draft well they will be back and better than ever in 2012.  The important thing is, we still managed to have fun and throw the BSBPE. (“!” not included due to lack of actual win by said Patriots team).
In other news, my quest to become a good wife and learn to actually cook something besides spaghetti and enchiladas led me to try not one but TWO new recipes last weekend.  (Also, because I bought a pack of 12 giant chicken breasts at Costco and had to use them on something).  I made the crockpot chicken taco meat that I told you about in my Super Bowl Party Prep post, which turned out fantastic.  I even modified the recipe successfully to make it work with the gigantic chicken (seriously, are the Costco chickens on steroids?) and didn’t screw it up.  I made a million times too much and we have been eating burritos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but that’s ok.

I also tried this recipe for a dish called Chicken Supreme from Gabrielle at her blog chock full of yummy recipes! I took a few liberties with her recipe as well.  I hate mushrooms, so I eliminated the creamy chicken & mushroom soup and just stuck with two cans of cream of chicken; and I used half a pack of Stove Top Chicken Stuffing mix because that is what I had at home already.  This turned out extremely yummy, even though it was a tad soupy (I made only two chicken breasts since it was just two of us, and I think I should have probably cut down to one can of soup). But look how pretty!:


I am especially proud of myself because Nathan loved (or at least claimed to really like) both of these dishes.  When we first started dating 7 (!) years ago, he mentioned how much he loved berry cobbler.  Trying to impress him, I got a cobbler recipe from the Betty Crocker website and spent all evening making him a berry cobbler.  It smelled good, and looked okay.  But it was the most god-awful disgusting thing you have ever tasted!  Poor Nathan tried to be nice at first, to find something positive to say about it, but the fact that it smelled good was its only redeeming quality.  And then I said, “Oh my gosh, this is disgusting!”, and he had to agree and resort to comforting me on the epic fail.  To this day, I do not know what went wrong, but something did, and ever since I have dreamed of the day where I can cook well enough to make up for that stupid cobbler!  So two new meals that both look, smell, and TASTE great in one weekend is pretty good progress for this girl.


Countdown to the BSBPE! Part 3

When Tom Brady scored a TD with 11 and a half minutes to go in the Pats-Ravens playoff game, I started planning the crowning glory of my BSBPE!: Patriots team/player customized cookies!


First, I found these awesome cookie cutters on Amazon.  I decided to stick with the football & flag shapes only for this party, because I thought they would be the easiest to cut out and the least likely to break.  I was right – only one football bit the dust!


Turns out the sugar cookie cutouts were the easy part.  Not so easy?  Attempting to get navy blue colored frosting.  We used an entire tube of blue gel coloring and still didn’t manage to get there.  We did however, make some pretty awesome cookies.

Our two magic weapons:


The frosting in the bags was Nathan’s idea.  We were trying to write players names & numbers onto the cookies, and we had bought canned frosting in order to attempt that.  However, our cans were rather temperamental and didn’t allow us to write small enough, so Nathan came up with the idea of using Ziploc bags with a tiny hole cut in the corner.  Similar to a frosting bag, except this way we could get the tip to be teeny tiny in a way that my cake frosting tips don’t.  The big bowl of blue frosting (leftover from frosting the cookies) became our “Correction Frosting”.  Correction Frosting comes in very handy – for instance, when your husband invents a player named “Brach”.

I have to say I am VERY proud of our finished product.  We are currently trying to figure out how to get them submitted to the NE Patriots Facebook fan page.  Navy blue or not, I’d say they turned out great. 


Countdown to the BSBPE! Part 2

The BSBPE! now has it’s own official theme song.  Most people I know aren’t up early enough in the morning to hear Mike & Mike (their show starts at 3 AM PST), but I listen to them Monday – Thursday, and their show has given me our theme song for the party of the century.  I so wish I could get this as my ringtone.  Enjoy!