Tuesday, January 31, 2012

black pens and paper kisses

Every week my goal is to write and mail two letters. One goes down south to Christopher, the other up north to Elizabeth. (Based on the total number of letters I have mailed over the years, I'm surprised I have not single-handedly kept the United States Postal Service afloat.) It recently came to my attention that, contrary to what I firmly believed, I could mail Christopher packages while he's away. Christopher told me not to mail him beef jerky, and I took it to mean send no packages or I will be sent back from whence I came and my military career will be OVER because of you. I would have hated for his career to end simply over a package of Slim Jim original snack sticks, so I stuck to anything that only required a stamp.

After I recovered from feeling guilty about not sending any care packages when I could have, I collected a few things up and paid a visit to my friend Gary at the post office.  
I must say that picking out items for a guys care package is slightly less exciting than for a girls care package. Take pens, for example. The only manly options were black or blue. For girls I could have picked purple! Or flowers! Or swirls! Or hearts! Or little puppy dogs! I didn't think Christopher would appreciate writing with a pink pen, so I stuck with black.
Besides a long letter, I wrote him three little notes. As shown below, they were not all mushy and romantic notes. I believe everyone can use a little geography lesson every now and then.  
Since Christopher has been gone, our marriage has had a severe lack of kisses. In a moment of crafting brilliance, I printed a picture of a large Hershey's kiss then traced it onto construction paper. I used rubber stamps and embossing powder to decoration them.
Of course, real kisses are better than paper kisses, but paper kisses are better than no kisses. We try to look on the bright side around here.
(Brief kissing story: Before our wedding, I jokingly told my friend Willie that there would be a minimum amount of kissing at our wedding. He looked at me and said with a perfectly serious face, "I will do my best to CONTROL MYSELF." I almost died laughing.)

Monday, January 30, 2012

special giveaway for military families!!

I always feel oh so professional when I say this, and here I am saying it again: I was contacted by a company about doing a giveaway with them.  Unlike the last giveaways which have been for little things like bowls or gift certificates, this giveaway is from a company trying to make a difference in the lives of military families.

SuperTintin is a recording tool for online interviews, conferences, lessons, podcasts, or family VoIP calls. It records Skype phone calls, video chats and voice mails. They are generously donating 100 licenses to its Skype recording software so that deployed/stationed servicemen and women can connect with their families at home, and the at-home family can record the conversation (and all following conversations) to play back or share with other family and friends as much as they'd like. The conversations can also be embedded in blog posts, uploaded to YouTube or emailed. I will be giving away five SuperTinTin licenses to military families for Valentine’s Day.

To put it visually, instead of just talking on the phone (I’m sure we all still use rotary phones),
you’ll be able to see your loved one live and in person. (Please notice how I included three babies in the below picture. That’s because I would love to have triplets.) You can save these precious conversations to watch over and over again. 

You’ll receive your SuperTintin license code in time for Valentine’s Day. 

Please note that SuperTintin is not yet compatible with Macs. Just another reason to have a PC.

Rules of entry- Open to military families only. Service member need not be deployed.

1-Leave a comment sharing your Valentine’s Day plans. If you have no such plans, say one thing you’re looking forward to in February. If you have Valentines plans AND something exciting in February, feel free to share both!  I’m always interested to know what other people are doing. (My husband says it’s nosey. I say it’s well-informed.)
My Valentine’s Day plans are very exciting. I am going with Christopher to his graduation formal! Everybody is going to be dressed up and look just lovely. I can't wait. (Do you think soldiers would appreciate being called "just lovely"?) 
2- follow this blog and leave another comment
3- do 85 push ups Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave the link in another comment

Giveaway will end February 11th

*Information provided by the SuperTintin representative and website. I was provided with two additional codes which I gave to K and Shayla.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

an evening in Africa

Grandma has always wanted to go to Africa, so for her birthday we gave her a special Evening in Africa. 
I decorated the table with little safari animals we played with when we were young.
This is the only safari where the rabbits are the same size as the elephants and lions.
Our friend Gladman was born and raised in Zimbabwe. He went to the same school as Daniel and we all became friends. When he graduated, his parents flew to the United States for the big occasion and we had them over for supper. His mother sent us this beautiful tablecloth and napkins as a thank you gift. Our Africa night was the perfect opportunity to use them.
On the menu we had South African green bean salad, chicken and peanut butter gravy, South African sweet potato fritters, and spicy nutty bananas for dessert.   
Tony the giraffe made a celebrity appearance. He's a little flat and deflated, but a giraffe nonetheless.
Gladman's mother also gave us three genuine African shirts so we ladies wore them. Here's the birthday girl and her daughter.
We didn't have any African shirts for the men, so they just wore black shirts. (Aaron probably preferred that anyway!)
We ended our evening in African by watching The African Queen. Grandma had so much fun in Africa and I'm so glad we could be the ones to bring her! ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

the owls of Flip Flap Lane

After four weeks of intense cutting, pinning, stitching, and twirling around showing off ballet moves (that would be Anna), our sewing class finally finished our owls today.

They obligingly posed for us on the stairs. 
(left to right) Anna named her owl Olivia, mine is Macy, and Jillian's green owl is Sarah. I never had one owl named after me, let alone TWO (Olivia is my middle name), so I was very honored.

We decided they all live together in trees on Flip Flap Lane. When I move again, we'll write letters to each other telling what our owls are doing. I have a feeling my owl is going to be the most widely traveled of the trio!

Monday, January 23, 2012

a house with a view

My mother (the one with the irritatingly good sense of direction) and I (the one with the frustrate lack of any directional skills) took yesterday and today to search for an apartment in New York. 

You know who does not have a natural talent for researching real estate? Me.

This morning I sent my dearly beloveded far-off husband the following message: "I'm going to find you a mansion with a cook, a car person, and a go to Blockbuster to pick up our desired movie person. Or just a house with a roof and a bed." 

I did not get him a mansion or a car person (honestly, the car person would have been solely for my benefit), but I did get him a house with THREE beds and a view.
photo not taken this morning
In all fairness and honesty, I did not find this apartment. Christopher, the dearly beloveded far-off husband, found it last week after I, the one in charge of apartment plans, may have had a small emotional breakdown while on the phone with him. It was not one of my finer moments.

The land in the distance across the lake is Canada. I have been practicing my Canadian language skills in my head all day. I would hate if a Canadian rowed over to my new home and I didn't know the perfect thing to say. Unfortunately, one of the only phrases I could come up with was "cheerio!" While such a phrase might be appropriate to threw around when one dines with William and Kate (and don't we all do that on a regular basis?), I don't think it's quite appropriate here. I'd love to hear from any experts who may know. 

Come to think of it, I'm French Canadian so that alone should get any new Canadian friendship off to a rip-roaring start. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

greetings from the land of hugs and snow

Two things of utmost importance must be noted from this weekend.

1) Today is National Hugging Day. Go grab someone you love and start hugging away! I rushed over to Aaron when he came home from track and as I threw my arms around him, I yelled, "It's National Hugging Day!!" He did not share my enthusiasm. "Sarah! That's even WEIRDER THAN USUAL!!"

2) It finally snowed!! I am just thrilled.
Friday afternoon I received a text message from a mysterious number that read, "Hey there love! Can i call you?" I stared at the numbers hoping they might magically turn into the senders name, but they did not. I almost responded with, "Hello, my darling! I await your call with anticipation and longing. Do contact me at your earliest convenience", then decided that might not be the best idea. After all, I didn't know who was texting me. Just that day I had written a text to Christopher saying I miss and love him and almost sent it to MY FRIENDS HUSBAND. That would have been awkward. 

Turns out it was Hannah contacting me. She came over for a trip to Anthropology (the latest addition to my list of top five favorite stores), a marathon viewing of Downton Abbey, and a trip to the snowy outdoors. 
As we shoveled, I was reminded of a snowstorm we had many years ago. Our friend Tom was over and we were experiencing a shovel shortage. Tom felt bad that he wasn't helping out, so he went into the kitchen and came out with a tablespoon. He proceed to shovel his corner of the driveway with said tablespoon. Needless to say, it took him SWEET FOREVER to get anything accomplished.

If you need me this weekend, just look for the person wearing bright red boots who is running around looking for people to hug.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thomas Edison would have loved hanging out with us

Two nights ago I video chatted for the first time. 
Naturally I shared this moment with Katie.
Seeing how Katie and I invented video chatting, I'm surprised it took us this long to actually use it. Did you know we invented it? Well, we did. Way back when we were the tender age of ten, we decided somebody needed to invent a phone with a tv screen "or something" so we could see each other while we talked. We had a lot of new Lisa Frank paraphernalia and trying to describe it over the phone just wasn't working.

The internet may give you another version of how video chatting/Skype was invented, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily true. Obviously such a popular form of communication was developed by two young girls living on the east coast who liked to compare their sticker collections.

Did you know we also invented a little thing called CDR? CDR stands for Compact Disc Ring, a highly cutting-edge, fashion-forward device that looked like a ring but was in reality a teeny tiny cd player. The ring was about the size of a penny and the cd's the size of a dime. We founded a multi-million dollar operation through which we sold CDR's as well as a large selection of mini cd's. We even designed our own letterhead and sent letters to our most loyal customers (aka my aunt and uncle). It was all very entrepreneurial. We had very few sales, but that was most likely due to the fact that our prices were something like $542,580,126.02 per CDR. The cd's were priced at around $558,042.01 which we felt was A REAL BARGAIN.

We also invented a brand new design for toe-socks and sold them through another of our large corporations.

Obviously we kept the patent office HOPPING.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday musings

* After two weeks of stalking Facebook everyday patiently waiting, this picture taken by one of Christopher's classmates at the branching ceremony has finally made an appearance. 
I am a fan.

* I got to talk to Christopher for a whole hour over the weekend! 
* I like this little design. Maybe I'll make it into a shirt. I'm ALL ABOUT rhinestones.

* Grandma's 84th birthday party yesterday was highly successful. 
* The TIRE PRESSURE LOW came on in the car again today. A funky new light called the electro-mechanical power steering assist failure light came on too. I won't even pretend I know what exactly that means. I foresee another trip to the mechanic in our future
* Today I'm calling realtors about apartments for us to live in after Christopher graduates. When did I gain such responsibilities? It seems like just last month I was starting second grade. How time does fly.
* I'm challenging Aaron to a game of Burnout tonight. Two things are almost certain:
1) I will crash
2) I will lose

At least I won't be responsible for getting the car fixed after I crash it. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy birthday, Grandma!!

We love you LOTS!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I don't think I have a future as a mechanic

Monday afternoon I took our car, Gretchen, to the car doctor. She had been suffering from tire air deficiency issues and I was tired of going to the gas station every single day to fill up the tire. So, I drove down to the car place praying all the way that the tire wouldn't go flat on me.

I had never taken a car to the mechanic own my own before, a fact which I hoped wouldn't be too obvious to the whole place. I hoped in vain. I explained to the guy what the issue was and sat down in the waiting room. He popped back into the room and the following conversation transpired:
Him: "Do you have a reela key?
Me: "A what key?"
Him: "A reela key."
Me: at a complete loss over what a reela key was but pretty certain I did not own one "Um, no. I don't think so."
Him: realizing he's dealing with a complete novice in the car world "That's ok. It's probably in your trunk."

I went back to reading about winter fashions (for less than $600 per outfit! What a bargain!) all the while wondering what a reela lock key was. Maybe he meant rear lock key. In that case, I could have informed him that the key on the car remote unlocks ALL the doors in the car. I don't know what was going on; it was all very confusing.

Just as I started reading where Angelina Jolie wants to send her children for high school, Mr. Main Mechanic came to the doorway and asked me to step into the garage. I'm pretty sure everyone working there knew they were in for some form of entertainment courtesy of the girl who doesn't know about cars, because all four people crowded around to see what would happen. That's when this conversation happened:

Mr. Main Mechanic: "Did you run over a pothole?"
Me: thinking back over our driving during the last 8 months "Nooo, I don't think so. But maybe. I'm not sure."
Mr. Main Mechanic: "Well, I can't find any leak here. It seems pretty full."
Me: trying to say something helpful and intelligent "Would that be because I just put air in it today? I've put air in it every single day and the screen in the car says it's still low. My husband said to put air in it until that little air tire thing (I demonstrated by moving my pointer finger up and down very energetically) says it has 35 whatevers in it."

I didn't dare look at any of the other mechanics crowded around after that statement. I don't think I could have said anything more 
unintelligent sounding than "that little air tire thing" and "35 whatevers". On the bright side, I'm sure they appreciated my demonstration of what the little air tire thing does.

After that, Mr. Main Mechanic showed me two tires- the current one with absolutely no grip left and a newer one. He also showed me how the rim was bent which was making the air hiss out. Even I understood that's NOT supposed to happen. 

Eventually Gretchen and I were back on the road with a new tire and a true appreciation for those who do the technical care of the car so I don't have to. When I was telling Mom about the trip, she asked if they mentioned anything about "the tube". 
Thank goodness they did not. Who knows what would have come out of my mouth! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

I do enjoy at good military event

I felt very grown up this past weekend.

I flew by myself to two Georgia airports, found myself a taxi, waltzed (or more accurately, dragged my  tired self) into the hotel, and ordered Chinese food up to my room. I started off by saying “I would like…” as I ordered my large amount of Chinese food, but I quickly changed to saying “we would like…” because I didn’t want them to think, “Wow. That girl can really eat.” Not that that would be a wrong assumption or anything.

The next morning after breakfast, Christopher’s father and I drove onto post to scope out the area and make sure we knew where to go for Christopher’s event. We spent some time exploring the area and watching people fly down zip lines. We briefly wondered if they’d let us try it out, but quickly decided the answer would be a resounding NO as they escorted us off the premises.

After a quick lunch we arrived at the location of the first event. We left early so we’d beat the crowds, but the crowd was so small it can’t really be called “a crowd”. It was more like a sprinkling. Christopher kept telling me this portion of the ceremony would be boring, boring, and possibly a little more boring. He underestimates my appreciation of people in uniform. His father and I thought the whole thing was very interesting. We looked at and discussed everything.

We were kept very busy with trying to figure out where Christopher was in the midst of the ninety soldiers once his event started. I came up with the brilliant idea to take a photo of a person we thought might be him, and then zoom in to see if it really was. I’m sure that’s exactly what Civil War wives did when they attended their husband’s events. We thought we found him twice, but a quick look at the camera screen caused us to say, “Nope, that’s not him. That guy doesn’t look NEARLY grumpy enough.”  (Christopher’s serious face looks grumpy. Just look at his license picture for proof.) We found him just before the event finished and he came over to visit.
At the second event we found out what type of school/job Christopher will go to when he graduates this one.  The whole ceremony was exciting (and very loud) but oh my word, it was also a little stressful. We were finding out the future direction of our lives so it was kind of a BIG DEAL. I met and sat with a very nice girl named Kim whose boyfriend is Christopher’s roommate. We kept looking at the screen that said what jobs were available, then looking at each to reassure the other we’d be fine with whatever happened. The only thing missing was suspenseful music in the background. In the end, we were all pleased with the outcome and are preparing ourselves for our next move.

That night we went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings with Kim and her boyfriend. I believe fried pickles are a wonderfully tasty way to end the day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I certainly do travel a lot these days

I am currently sitting at gate D30 in the Atlanta airport waiting for the flight that will take me to Christopher. By the time I get to the hotel tonight, I will have been in SIX airports within four days. That makes me feel like a business woman, except I don’t travel in heels or have a genuine leather suitcase. I’m more of a sneaker-wearing, gum-chewing kind of traveler.

I’ll only see Christopher for two days, but for those two days I won’t have to worry that my phone might be dead when he calls and we won’t be able to talk. I’ll just look over and there he will be. On my way home from Phoenix on Monday I had a two hour layover in Cleveland. (You know what goes on at the Cleveland airport? Absolutely nothing.)  As I dragged my tired self (have I mentioned that I got up at 2:55 that morning?) along to the other side of the airport, I looked in a little restaurant and saw a soldier who was the same exact size as Christopher, had the same exact hair color as him, and was using the same exact phone he has. I stood there and stared at him for at least 25 seconds trying to understand why Christopher was sitting there when I thought he was on his way to Georgia. Then I realized that I knew it wasn’t him, I just wanted it to be. Every time I see a person wearing a uniform, I think for a split second that it’s him.

That’s the problem with the United States Army- they all wear the same clothes! One of the biggest events we attended while we were dating was the Cavalry Ball. Christopher dropped me off at the door and when I walked in the door I came face to face with 100 men all wear the SAME EXACT THING as Christopher. It was like Where’s Waldo Army Version.  I had been so busy planning my own outfit it never occurred to me that they would ALL be wearing blue pants, black jackets, white shirts, and black hats. Thank goodness Christopher’s jacket had his name on it so I didn’t lose him! ;-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We forget to add "hard-working and loving" to our list

Barely twenty-four hours after arriving home from my Phoenix trip, Katie appeared on my doorstep.
Unlike times of yore, she was not alone. She arrived with A BOY.
I think I need a moment of silence and stillness to take that in.

As soon as Katie walked in the door I was faced with a huge dilemma- would Katie sit near me or Zac during supper? In the 20 years of our friendship I have NEVER had to consider that. It has always been understood that we sit together. I did the gracious hostess thing and told Katie to sit between us. After all, Katie and Zac were visiting together and I didn't want to split them up. 

Katie and I long ago established at set of criteria we'd look for in our future husbands:
* They could not wear HUGE glasses
* They could not wear baggy sweatpants with elastic ankles. (The only thing that could possibly make this worse would be having a tshirt tucked in when said pants are pulled up almost to their chin.)
* Must have a nice nose
* Not be named Ron, Rick, or Tony
* The final criteria stated that our husbands must go on a camping trip with us at a destination of our choice. We have been planning this camping trip for YEARS.

Obviously we focused on the really important things.

After an evening of much intense scrutiny and interrogation on my part, and much holding hands and giggling on the part of Katie and Zac, I decided that Zac will be a good addition to our camping group.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Should it be said twenty-twelve or two thousand and twelve?

New Year’s Eve found us hanging out with these cute people,their parents and Oma. 
Stephanie moved their clock so that seven o’clock miraculously became twelve o’clock. Logan was so excited to stay up to ring in the New Year! After supper we played charades. I’m highly creative so I was a cactus. Basically I just stood there with my arms in the air.
Stephanie and Christopher did more active things like parachuting and ski jumping. They did much more than just stand there with their arms in the air.

After all the festivities (including more games and throwing poppers) were over, Christopher and I went to the movies to see New Year’s Eve. We were nothing if not completely appropriate in our movie choices. Did you know Christopher had no idea who Zac Efron was? I had to remind myself that he has not spent the same number of hours watching High School Musical and the Disney channel as I have. Working in Babysitterville can be quite educational at times.

In keeping with the spirit of what I do all year long, I was eating crackers and pepperoni at 11:56 pm. Why stop doing something that has worked so well all year? Eating is a tradition I intend of continuing into this new year.

The new year started off beautifully with a few (very small) fireworks courtesy of some neighbors. The best part was that Christopher and I were able to begin the new year together.

You all have a lovely year. (May you have many happy eating opportunities.) 

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.