Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More Than Meets The Eye

How excited am I that I just watched this...

Oh The Places You'll Go Shopping...

So Shaffer the Wafer have finally shared that we mutually hate shopping! I have known this about myself for awhile, but I don't think I really knew Pam was until she told me last night. This is good information--because--it explains why we have so many ridiculous adventures on our shopping excursions! Hopefully, you remember that whole IKEA fiasco from a few months back...

...well, the Tuesday evening Pre-Christmas Alderwood Mall extravaganza held many of the same joys.

Here are Shaffer Wafer and I's beloved photojournalistic highlights:

In the "Made in Washington" gift shop, where I picked up a few Christmas presents, Pam and I paid homage to my absolute favorite yet-to-be-mine Northwestern artifact: a pepper grinder shaped like the Space Needle! I first saw these 2 1/2 years ago, very early in my tenure in Washington, and it was love at first sight. Everytime I visit the mall, I stop by to say hello to the yet-to-be-mine Space Needle pepper grinder, and my eyes brim with tears as we part ways yet again. The price is just too much to justify...$110 for a pepper grinder?! Seriously...but it's amazing...and I long for the day where we will be together.

Next, we gave some mad props to the peeps at Williams-Sonoma who did, in fact, include a schmancy box of chocolates with our gift card purchases. Pam got her gift card after mine, and the lady was all, "Here's your box of chocolates to put your gift card in, free with a gift card, and you get the last one." I was all like, "WHAT IN THE BIJEEZY?" because I had moments before purchased a gift card and gotten no such complementary sweetness. So--the sales girl spent ten minutes scouring the back rooms and emerged victorious with the last box of chocolates for gift card purchases. I raised the box in triumph (imagine Rafiki raising up Simba and area wildlife bowing and singing "Circle of Life")... and moments later presented the gift to Jenny as a Thank You for letting me crash with her in her house of amazingness for five months.

But...the happiness of gift card chocolate-moment could not last all night...because then there was the dreaded event we can only call in shame, "The Panera Incident." Moments after Pam and I acquired two 52 ounce cups of water to quench our shopping dehydration from Panera, Pam proceeded to spill the entire contents of her nearly gallon-sized cup onto the carpet in the Children's section of Borders. What do you do when you dump a gallon of water on the floor in a bookstore? Pam tried to fan out the water so it'd spread into the carpet and dry, but the nicely scotch-guarded rug was not so accomodating. Bitty beads of water shot across the aisle and into the corner crevices of the book stack, leaving a massive pile of standing water just in front of the Dr. Seuss Pam did what any self-respecting store spiller would do: work really hard to cover up the mess by stomping and smacking the standing water into the carpet weave and then running away really fast.

HA! Can't believe we got away with that one!

We then waited in a line so long it would certainly rival any you would have found in Moscow in 1987...and entertained ourselves by doing dramatic readings from the "impulse purchases" and continuing to take ridiculous photos of ourselves.

The evening concluded with a meet-up with our ten friends who were also shopping at the mall for a final hurrah dinner at P.F. Chang's. It took us about 27 minutes to get a glass of water...and about 90 minutes to get our food... So...while we waited Pam used her chopsticks to demonstrate yet-to-be-trends in teenagers' piercings. I'm not sure that the walrus look is going to catch on tomorrow, but after seeing the size of the plugs in some of my kids' ears, I'm sure it's not too far off.

Dinner was fun, though, because eleven of my dear Washington friends and I gathered around a table (with a lazy susan in the middle--woohoo!) for delicious Chinese sustenance. It made the bleary-eyed frustrations of holiday shopping melt into laughter and an overall ridiculously good time.

Thus ends my holiday shopping for 2006. Oh--how I long for my next day at the mall...right...

Friday, December 15, 2006

SuzJ posted a list of 4's. It's Friday Afternoon, and before I go home, I want to be cool like her:

four jobs I have had in my life:
1. webmaster for the "Awesome Beatles' Catalogue"
2. shredder of the "Weekly Wage Worksheets" at Baker's Management
3. waitress at Spitler's Family Restaurant
4. Admissions Office Telecounselor at TU

four movies I would (and do) watch over and over:
1. Pride and Prejudice (the A&E version)
2. French Kiss
3. Band of Brothers
4. A River Runs Through It

four places I have lived:
1. Grace Hostel at Daystar University in Athi River, Kenya
2. Gerig Hall 326 at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana
3. "The Castle"
4. Jenny's Mountain Home in Arlington, WA

four TV shows I love to watch:
1. Friends
2. American Idol
3. 24
4. The Office

four places I have been on vacation:
1. Uganda
2. Brecon, Wales
3. Eglasmuhle, Germany
4. Disney World

four of my favorite foods:
1. Eritrean food and mango shakes at this little place near Yaya Center in Nairobi
2. Peanut Chicken Coconut Curry by me.
3. Chicken Salad from Serenity Tea House (Coshocton, OH)
4. anything made by my two favorite men: Ben and Jerry

four places i would like to be right now:
1. Tucson
2. Zambia
3. In a cabin near Kalispell, Montana with a fire going, a stack of books, and my Mac
4. Taylor University, J-Term 2003

four books i'd read again:
1. Crime and Punishment
2. A Severe Mercy
3. Girl Meets God
4. The Time Traveler's Wife

four songs I listen to over and over:
1. The Story (Brandi Carlile)
2. La Vie Boheme (Rent)
3. Hide Your Love Away (Beatles)
4. Go To Sleep (Radiohead)

four things I despise:
1. when heidi's dog barks at me while i'm talking on the phone
2. nickelback
3. passive-aggressiveness
4. powdered coffee creamer

four random things I love:
1. long, reflective emails from close friends
2. verizon's in-network
3. airplane trips
4. mix cd's

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The Dreaded Holiday Party

Okay. Confession time: I don't like holiday parties.
WHAT?! It's true. I don't. I have three holiday parties this week, and as it turns out, I don't like them.

This should seem weird for the following reasons:
1. Holiday parties always have good food.
2. Holiday parties include close friends.
3. Holiday parties include fun outfits.

But--the parties themselves, I don't enjoy as much as I feel like I should. And I figured out why...

Pam Shaffer the Wafer recently pointed out, "The best day of 2006 was IKEA day." Why is it that one day of running around a dreaded retail store acting ridiculous was more fun than a seemingly fun series of holiday parties with good friends? That makes no sense! So--in an attempt to figure this out, I've noted other fantastic happenings in late-2006: Casey family football...Night out at Threadgill's in Austin...And Tuesday Girls' Night with Pam and Heidi.

What do all of these fantastic days have in common? They were completely unplanned and had zero expectation. Therefore, their goodness was accentuated even more by the fact there was no pressure, no expectation, no intense ideal to live up to.

Heidi keeps saying that her favorite holiday is St. Paddy's day, because there's no pressure, and it's just a good night out with friends. Ahh--there is a THEME going here!

So...I don't know what to do...I'm still going to go to holiday parties...But I think, for the record, I'm going to refuse (from this point forward) to plan one...until a creative alternative that strips the holiday party of its expectations can be created.

In honor of shining moments in my first two holiday parties, however, which had their fun moments in my general non-enjoyment, I present these photojournalistic highlights:

The YD Adventures Christmas Bash at Stonewater Ranch....

Shining Moment? The Single's Table! HAHA! Without realizing it at first, all of the singles retreated from the chaos of wandering toddlers (about twenty of them, to be exact) to the big table in the corner. It's like we annexed ourselves first we didn't realize it...then someone caught on and we said, "Egads! All the single people are at one table!" This is significant, because in ministry it often feels like it's overwhelmingly geared towards married people and was nice to look around the table and say, "I am not an enigma." So, thanks to Miranda, Heidi, Steve, Becca, Dan, Jim, Derek, Mara, Kurtis, Tex, Adam, and fellow Adventure guides...for representing...

The YD Staff Party...Last Night

Apparently many people suffer from this problem with photos I wasn't aware of called, "Stoner Eye." I've never really suffered from it, but for a few of my friends, I discovered that taking good photos with them is a challenge because in all the photos they end up looking like they're drugged out.

So--I spent a good chunk of the Christmas party trying to get good photos. This is the best I could do:

Pam Shaffer Wafer smiles for the camera... sort of... I think she's covering up her face so the toddlers don't recognize her...they like to come up behind us on the couch and braid our hair. Without asking. And with sticky fingers. Plus, Pam has long hair you can swing on like a jungle gym, so they like that too.

By far, the most eligible bachelor at the Christmas party was Baby Rider...I think I made a move on him-- feeding him dinner and then cuddling (isn't this the gateway to all men's hearts?) As he was eating, I explained to him the importance of washing his hands before playing with my hair--and--how the key to any good holiday party is a killer soundtrack.

And--finally, after several hundred failed attempts, Sarah and I left the party with a decent photo of ourselves. Sarah recently chopped several feet of her hair off, and she wears it down all the time. She looks amazing. more holiday party to go on Saturday. I will be meditating ahead of time to strip it of expectations and that I'll be guaranteed a good time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Intriguing Questions for My Morning

1. Are you allowed to eat sunchips for breakfast?
2. Recognizing that you are, in fact, eating sunchips for breakfast regardless--are you allowed to call it breakfast since it's technically 11am? (Based on the operational definition McDonalds provides for breakfast: that it ends at 10:30am.)
3. Does the fact that the sunchips are the first thing you've eaten all day reinstate them into the term 'breakfast' since (even though it's no longer breakfast in McDonald's-land) they are accomplishing their root purpose of 'breaking the fast'?
4. Can it be true that as long as you've obtained the food prior to 10:30am, it is still definable as 'breakfast' based on the nature of the food...regardless of its time of consumption?
5. Which begs the question, even if you've obtained your sunchips at 8:30am, can they be called breakfast, since they are not a 'breakfast food?'
6. Is the matter further confounded by the fact you ate waffles for dinner last night?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Officially Over

Roadway just drove up to the cabin, bringing me my freight from the YS Convention (our display board and booth pieces.)

Thus ends the YS Convention tour...because my stuff has made it home. Except--follow-up with our leads is just beginning...

So how sad and how exciting all at once.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Photojournalistic Highlights from the Tour 'o the Midwest... photojournalistic highlights from this last trip are sparse. Even though I was in seven different states on four separate trips over 20 days, I took exactly 8 photographs. So, in your mind, pretend that I'm sharing photos of these important events that I didn't take pictures of: Cincinnati YS, Muncie, Taylor, my immediate family, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, and my meetings with following famous people... Lauren Winner, the Detroit Pistons, Leigh Nash, and James Laurinaitis. (Imagine specifically, lots of pictures of me smiling next to dear friends and family that I haven't seen in ages...and imagine YD staff recruiting 70 staff leads.)

Highlight #1: Baby Caedmon Rider Barth's First Flight.

He did very well...slept the whole time...and Heather and Jade did really well on 'first travels with a baby.' We discovered lots of cool perks of traveling with babies:
1. You get to go to the front of lines.
2. Flight attendants are reeally nice.
3. TSA officials smile at you.

We also discovered lots of non-cool perks of traveling with babies:
1. You have to find elevators, many of which are unmarked or hard-to-find, or out-of-the-way (especially the one in S-Terminal at Sea-Tac, which is conveniently located through a huge glass door marked "Customs and International Travel" and down a long hallway filled with security officials.)
2. You are expected by TSA to simultaneously break down the stroller, put it on the belt, and hold the baby, boarding pass, and ID. They offer no assistance and required that I come back through the metal detector to carry the baby for Jade so that Jade could put all the luggage on the belt herself.
3. You nearly miss flights because sometimes the baggage people take a bazillion years to give you your gate-checked stroller back...and then you, Jade, and baby have to run at top speeds, gear-in-tow to the opposite sides of the Minneapolis airport, including crashing into business men as you run at top speeds on moving sidewalks. As you can see, though, this did not phase Caedmon. He slept the whole time.

Highlight #2: The Casey Family National Championship

On Thanksgiving Day, Cousin Randi and I began reflecting on Thanksgiving Friends' episodes. Since it was a beautiful, sunny 65 degrees outside, we specifically waxed nostalgic about "The One With The Football," and Randi started giggling over the thought of "The Geller Trophy" (which was a troll doll nailed to a 2x4) during that episode. Then someone cried out, "We could make a Casey Cup!" (Casey being my mom's maiden name...the side of the family with whom we were gathered.)

The idea was too amazing to pass up--and the idea of competing for a ridiculous trophy inspired us all to really play an actual game of family football. So...I crept into the attic, dug through boxes, pulled out the hot glue gun, and 20 minutes later emerged with the official "Casey Cup."

The Cup itself actually holds a lot of sentimental value. It's comprised of of homages to the OSU Buckeyes, the Cleveland Browns, and the Cleveland Indians (of extreme importance to the Casey Clan.) It also includes the shark-on-a-stick puppet I bought on the 8th grade trip to DC, Sean's trophy from being the "Top Selling 6th Grader" in the Lincoln Elementary PTO Fundraiser, a small piece of PinArt I once purchased at COSI, and Sparky Pig (the running family joke, who makes recurring appearances in luggage, Christmas presents, and trunks of cars.)

The game itself was pretty intense: the competitive Welch/Schilling clan vs. Me/Sean/Rachel (and Aunt Angie at all-time Center...guest appearance by Aunt Danie and Dad as our sneak illegal receiver.) The Bakers were really at a disadvantage from the start considering the Welch/Schilling clan was comprised of Cousin Paul (Air Force,) Cousin Randi (played high school volleyball and softball,) and Cousin-in-Law Warren (Contractor and extremely buff.) Team Baker was me (retired ballerina,) Brother Sean (speaks Chinese,) and Brother's Girlfriend Rachel (chemist.)

But--in the first half, Team Baker put 14 points on the board (including one major reception by hmb that resulted in me being the defense's player to stop! Woo!) The second half was less pretty...because I think we were shut out....

But--we rejoiced at the end of it all that several hours of fun happened. And--that we've started--in our 20's--a new family tradition. So, the Casey Cup will be up for grabs again at Christmas when the Welch- Schillings battle it out with the Whitings... (p.s. notice all the red eyes? in my entire extended family, both sides, everyone has blue eyes...crazy, non?!)

...and Sean and I determined that at some point we're going to need a Triwizard tournament of sorts in which the Casey Cup is occasionally attainable via Trivial Pursuit victories...otherwise the Baker clan may never see the beloved Casey Cup again.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I am in Charlotte, NC for the last of the four Youth Specialties' Conventions. It's nice to see my 'exhibit booth buddies' who are quasi-friends based on the fact that I've seen them more in November than I've seen my roommate. (I'd like to give a shout-out to the peeps of Easy Worship, Bigstuf Camps, Reach Workcamps, Time Ministries...)

I'm tired, and I don't feel like I should be. But--when I say that, I say, "Heather. You've been in Washington, California, Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina in the past thirty days...and you've slept in eight different beds. You are allowed to be tired for no other reason than that alone."

So. Here I am kicking it in the amazing lobby of the Westin Charlotte, and I'm excited to start the last of the four conventions. Tomorrow, Havaleh (my best friend from high school) is coming to spend the day at the convention too! Fun!

There's so much anticipation--like--I'm going to meet a few future YD staff this weekend...

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Home Office

Am sitting in kitchen of parents' home in Ohio on my laptop and cell phone communicating with YD Office in Washington and Youth Specialties in California and friend Havaleh in North Carolina to hash out logistics for YS Convention in Charlotte, which begins on Thursday.

Feel very much like trendy jet-setter / road warrior...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Life on the Road

I've been living beyond Washington for the last eleven days, voyaging through Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania...and before the trip concludes, I'll be in North Carolina.

What in the world! All of this while my job title is being a missionary to Pacific Northwest youth!

The third of the four Youth Specialties' conventions was last weekend in Cincinnati, and it was by far our most productive convention in gathering leads for staff. Our biggest draw to the booth was Baby Caedmon Rider (Jade's son whom I blogged about last month.) All the booths around us were using sign-ups for "Win an iPod" to get people to their we stuck a sign on Caedmon's stroller that said, "Sign Up to Win a Baby." People would giggle and ask us baby-related questions, and then we could tell them about the ministry...I have pictures...but my cable to upload them is in Washington, so you must wait in suspense.

Sarah and I's adventure of sharing a hotel with Jade and 8-week-old Baby Barth proved to be pretty fun. He slept through the night all week and only cried as Jade strapped him into his carseat for our drive to Muncie, Indiana after the convention. I'm praying right now for God to gift me such mellow/non-crying babies (since I know I was colicky and fussy myself.)

After the convention was a three-day excursion through Indiana to visit friends in Muncie and at Taylor. It was so fantastic to trudge across TU's campus, visit chapel, hang out in the Union, talk with Prof's, visit Admissions, and miss my community in Upland...

And for the past four days, I've been bumming around C-town with the family, enjoying a hearty Thanksgiving dinner, family football (in competition for the "Casey Cup"--photos also pending), and lots of good hang-out time watching football and putting up Christmas decorations.

Wednesday I fly to North Carolina for YS Convention #4, thus ending my fall travels.

Yesterday I was talking to Heidi and homesick for Washington. I miss my bed and my books and my car and Heidi and I's house.

Blogging will probably be not happening much until I return to Washington the first week of December. If you're missing me, please visit Homestar Runner and watch Teen Girl Squad. It's essentially what I would write if I were posting blogs anyways.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The flooding in Washington has done interesting things to all of our rivers.

Here's my beloved Wenatchee River at 35,000 cfs (cubic feet per second.) For comparison's sake--the highest I've ever guided on the Wenatchee is at around 12,000 is bigger...

The Land of No-Phone

Offices become eerily quiet when the phones are disconnected for four days.

I think I could get used to this...

Monday, November 13, 2006

AAAAAHHHH! And I'm going to be in Ohio. What more is there to say, really?

Christmas is Coming

Okay. I have a confession...I really love that all the Christmas decorations are starting to go up. Yes, for sure, I could do without the commercials...but I really, really love Christmas decorations and candy canes.

Over the weekend I enjoyed my first candy cane of the season, and I've been listening to songs from Over the Rhine's new Christmas album this morning.

And I really love that Starbucks has the Christmas decor up already. This reminds me of spending a late-November weekend in New York with Danara in Fall 2003...when we hung out at a Starbuck's and roasted s'mores at Cosi's...and for whatever reason, that weekend represents so much good Christmas nostalgia.

Mom said that we're going to put up the Christmas decorations next weekend while Sean, Rachel, and I are all home for Thanksgiving. I love the idea of putting up ye-olde-ornaments with Barbra Streisand singing, "Jingle Bell Jingle Bell Jingle Bell" and reminiscing with Sean about our favorite presents of Christmas past...(which certainly includes our beloved kids still get excited about getting interlocking PVC pipes for Christmas? I don't think so...)

So...Scrooges...if it's too early for you to celebrate Christmas, feel free to direct some candy canes my way.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Highlights from Anaheim...

I spent six days within sight of Disneyland, and I did not go there...and I was ten miles from the Pacific Ocean, and I did not go there either...

...but I did spend a lot of hours in the Anaheim Convention Center, where protesters stood outside with signs that said, "Youth Specialties Sends People to Hell." (The best part about the sign was that the part at the top that said "Youth Specialties" was not a permanent part of the sign...meaning that the picketer probably writes out a different organizational name to protest each week...I'm sure it would be funny to show up next week when his sign says, "The Organization of Real Estate Professionals sends people to hell" or something like that...)

We did what we came to do: talk to people about working for YD. Over the six days, we have five people seriously interested in being an Area Director, another ten people seriously interesting in being on full-time staff, and 19 people interested in summer staff and/or internships. Wowzer!

I felt 247% better about the logistics of everything, having a much better idea of what to expect this time around. We ended up with a spot on the corner, which meant a little more traffic. And I ordered this bright red carpet, which shone as brightly as the sun, beckoning passersby...and--best of all, I eased the logistics of my next two conventions by having everything shipped directly from the Anaheim show site straight to the Cincinnati show site! Woo woo! This means I did not have to cart excessively heavy luggage on my way home from Anaheim!

My numero uno favorite surprise visitor for the week was Scott Greene, who was the Camp Director at Camp Adventure in Indiana during my internship there in Summer of 2001. I told him that to this day, he's still my favorite boss, which is true. Because he taught me a lot about empowerment--and--how to get your staff excited about Junior High ministry by blasting Petra in their ears at 7am on a summer morning. It was definitely fantastic to talk with him!

The most entertaining evening of the whole event was on Sunday night when the YD staff team got together for a final hurrah dinner. We ended up at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney (which I describe as Easton or Alderwood on speed.) We were having a pretty fun night, chilling in the rainforest and eating schmancy appetizers.

Then, I realized the men around me had started to go crazy. My coworkers Bethany and Teresa had taken off early to go to a concert, and I was left at a table with eight of my coworkers, seven of whom were wifeless married men. Within a few moments, all of the pent up "being good and being professional" seemed to get to them, and they disintegrated into the mentality of junior high boys. Kevin sprayed water all over me...Aaron and Joel were competing in a credit card tossing competition, and Eric was on the verge of breaking an expensive-looking 6-foot tall space heater. The moral of the story? If you're ever with a group of two girls and eight guys (seven of whom who've spent six days without the supervision of their wives), and the other two girls take off, go with them. Seriously.

And now I've returned to Mount Vernon, which is flooding. I haven't been inconvenienced by it, really, which is funny because we definitely live in the flood plain...and we definitely live less than fifty feet from the river...and the river level is easily higher than our house's foundation right now...all to say, Praise God for sturdy dikes...

here's a photo of Heidi's wonder dog, Max, staking out the flooding and ensuring that he'll protect us from encroaching waters...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Skagit River Flooding

I returned from Anaheim yesterday to discover that the entire Northwest is flooding. Here's footage I shot of the "World's Largest Log Jam" as it traveled down the Skagit River. This was taken on the north side of the dike, which is about fifty feet from my backyard...

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I can see Disneyland from the hotel window...

...this freaks me out a bit, because you can't see Disney World from hotel windows.

The convention starts in 90 minutes. Things are ready-set-go.

I'm excited...

...pray for us!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


There are so many great songs about California to commence my departure to Anaheim...

...but I always end up humming Tiny jean baby...LA lady...seamstress for the band...

Now I go to Anaheim for Youth Specialties' Convention 2 of 4. I'm leading a crew of ten staff...and I pray that God will protect us as we travel and bless this step of faith.

I'm excited...because already I'm headed home from the office five hours earlier than I was before YS in Austin.

It will be a good trip! I am excited...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pumpkins and Gargoyles: Why I Love Fall

For the first time ever, I've found something about fall in Washington that can stir me up with seasonal love almost as much as the fall colors back home: the pumpkin fields on my drive to work...

I can't even guesstimate how many acres of pumpkins there are by my house, but it results in thousands of pumpkins turning at least ten fields bright orange.

Yesterday as I was driving towards town in the morning, the fog was rolling off the hills to reveal the snow line is dropping...and fall became this eerie blend of orange and fog and snow...I was aghast at how beautiful it was...and it was the first time in recorded history that I discovered something about fall in Washington that I love as much as fall in Ohio! That felt I'm betraying my love for Fall in Ohio by loving something so distinct about Fall in Washington.

But it wasn't as odd of a feeling as you get when you're driving down I-5 towards Seattle with Pam and Heidi and pass a truck with a gargoyle in the bed. You don't see that everyday. If you're in the market for a hand-crafted bronze statue that looks like Satan, there's this guy in Tacoma you can call...for a tiny moment I was convinced that Hogwarts must be within driving distance of Mount Vernon and that they were receiving a handcrafted delivery. Then I realized, no, it's probably just a special order for your neighborhood Seattle sorceror...

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Saturdays are Fun Work Days!

I don't exactly understand this...but my most productive times for getting work done are Friday Nights and Saturday afternoons. I am incapable of accomplishing anything on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, but on Fridays and Saturdays, I'm totally motivated.

So this afternoon I've cleaned out my office, and I'm taking care of details for YS in Anaheim.

I wanted to redo the display board before I leave, so I'm working on Graphics. But--I was pulling my hair out because I have no idea what the dimensions of the board are, and it's already in Anaheim.

The Accounting Director just stopped in to say g'bye, and I explained the scenario to her:

Me: "I cannot for the life of me figure out how big the display board is. It's driving me crazy."
Her: "Don't you have the other half of the display board here?"
Me: "Sweet Jesus! You are a GENIUS! I LOVE YOU!"

Thirty seconds later, I've pulled out the matching half of the display board that didn't go to the conventions and discovered there are five folding panels 23" x 46".

Suddenly, my Saturday work productivity has just increased ten-fold.

And having an outside voice of reason was ridiculously helpful. Seriously, I would have sat here for an hour trying to figure out how big that stupid board was, and she solved my dilemma in thirty seconds.

I think this is why the Lord said, "It is not good for man to be alone."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

An Ode to Junior High Girls

Junior High girls are crazy! Seriously! Every Wednesday night at youth group, my co-leader Bethany and I spend several hours with about 20 of them. This is my third year with them..and I still think they're crazy.

They say really funny things. Here are some examples from last night:

Prayer Requests:

Jessica and Jamie: "Pray for my grades to go up."
Bethany and Heather: "Why don't we pray for you to study more and turn in your homework?"

Jackie: "Pray for my dirt bike tire to get fixed."
Heather: (to self) "This is ridiculous."
Bethany: "No way! You still haven't fixed that?!"
Heather: (to self) "Wow. Bethany is better at this than me."

Jody: "Pray for my everything."
Heather and Bethany: "Anything more specific?"
Jody: "Yeah, everything."

Hanging Out

Heather to Bethany: "Your brother sure got tan in Hawaii!"
Jill to Bethany: "Who's your brother."
Heather to Jill: "He's 22. He's too old for you to have a crush on."
Jill to Heather: "Hey! That was mean."
Heather to Jill: "Aren't you the one who said you've had 46 boyfriends?"
Jill to Heather: "No, I mean...just because he's 22 doesn't mean I can't have a crush on him."

Later in the evening

Jill: "Someone stole my binder from the bushes outside."
Heather: "Why was it in the bushes?"
Jill: "Because I don't like bringing it inside. It's safe out there."
Heather: "Jill, it's silly to leave your binder behind the shrubs in the church yard. And it's raining. Next time we can lock it up in the leaders' room."
Heather: "Does it have drugs in it?"
Jill: (rolling eyes.) "No! It's safe in the bushes."
Heather: "Obviously not because it was stolen."

A few minutes I'm walking to my car...I see another leader walking with Jill through the wet bushes looking for the binder. Oh...I thought...that's what your supposed to do with junior high girls. When they say, "Someone stole my binder from the bushes!" you're supposed to say, "No way! That's crazy! Who would do such a thing?! Let's go find it!"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Favorite Local Band...and football.

My favorite local band is breaking up! Nooo! It's true. Late Tuesday. They inspire me to write songs, and now they're breaking up.

But--they are playing a concert at, of all places, IKEA. On November 25. Pam was totally stoked to go and take Bookcase Billy back to his homeland for the Christmas concert. Alas, I will be in Ohio, still reeling from an amazing game the Saturday before, when #1 Ohio State slaughters #2 Michigan in a knock-down drag-out last-minute amazing victory.

It's easy to be excited about Ohio State. It's easy to freak out about the Seahawks, since we're now officially without Hasselback, Alexander, and Engram. I think it's because I haven't been giving them enough blog shout outs this season.

Football has nothing to do with my favorite local band breaking up, really. But--on Thursday Heidi and I finally get cable, when I can renew my weekly loyalties to my favorite teams. Hey and the Browns have won one game this year... so that's you know, better than zero...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

If you have yet to read this article...

Do it!

My Spiritual Journey by Barack Obama.

I'd love to hear your comments and feedback...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Time for Nothing.

The past two weekends I have desired a whole lot of nothing. And guess what--after two weekends of nothing, I'm painfully addicted to it.

I think it has something to do with having a lot of busyness in the work week. And this morning, as I was reading The Revolutionary Communicator: Seven Principles Jesus Lived to Impact, Connect and Lead (which I've been reading for at least four months. It is not a long book...I'm just that slow...) they talked about the principle of solitude as a necessary component of communication.

I thought to myself, "Oh...I'm spending all week communicating...and maybe I need to spend my weekends not communicating...just soaking in new things and being refreshed." (Like, you know, actually making Sabbath a Sabbath?)

Yesterday after church I came home and spent eight hours listening to music, lying on my bed reading books, and playing guitar. I read my daily Bible reading, a chapter of Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis, a chapter of Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Eternal Husband, a few pages of Kahlil Gabrin's The Prophet, a few chapters of Chuck Colson's Loving God (my Bible study's new book), and a few chapters of Gregory Maguire's Wicked... and my outlook on this week is rejuvinated. I was blown away that I had the energy to lay there and read for so long...but I was so excited to be awake with nothing to do but read. I was so excited to have nothing to do but nothing...

But it's actually not nothing...reading and playing guitar is something. It's just a something that gets edged out when I don't leave time for it. It's something that this Monday morning feels like life blood.

My new bedroom is now officially organized and books are on their proper shelves. I'm very excited for a lot more nothing tonight.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Why Is It That...

...why is it that on Thursday afternoons, when I should want to do work, I have no motivation. But on Friday afternoons, when it's time to go home, I'm on a roll and compelled to keep going?

That makes no sense!

"I don't want to know 'cause life is better off a mystery." ~Derek Webb.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Officially Booked!

I have officially booked my ticket to be in Ohio twice in the next two months...during Thanksgiving AND Christmas.

I will also be in Chicago for New Year's for the annual TU New Year's Extravaganza.

This trip will mark my 22nd time to/through Sea-Tac Airport in the 2006 calendar year! Crazy!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Does anyone know how to use a comma?

Apparently, I've developed a chip on my shoulder to consider myself "writer-in-resident" at YD. I didn't know it until yesterday when a coworker proofread the corporate newsletter and said there were too many commas. This is how the conversation went:

Coworker: "There are too many commas."
Me: "No, there aren't."
Coworker: "Yes there are."
Me: "No, there aren't.
Coworker: "Yes there are."
Me: "I have a degree in this."
Coworker: "Me too."
Me: "Oh. Hmm."

Suddenly--I felt very young and stupid, because I was using my degree (not my skills) to establish my authority. Eww. When he said, "Me too," it became apparent that something in the comma world is awry. How can we both be defending completely oppositional comma rules? Apparently he and I learned completely different comma rules--me as a literary writer and he as a technical writer. While I had been taught that a comma always goes before a coordinating conjuction between two clauses, he had been taught to never put a comma before a conjunction. Oh...conundrum.

I returned home and Heidi had loads to say about the ambiguity in proper comma useage. During her hefty comma research, it's apparent that no one agrees.

So, I ate some humble pie and admitted that I have not mastered the comma because apparently that's equivalent to saying that you've mastered cat-herding...does anyone know the real ways to use a comma? (What I'm inferring is that even if you think you do, you might not.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Ballad of Bookcase Billy: An IKEA Survival Guide

We survived IKEA! We did it! Yay for us!

This weekend, Pam (as in the hit song "Pam Shaffer is eating a vanilla wafer") and I made a daring trek to the desolate land of cheap, household goods. IKEA incites terror within me, because it reminds me of what would happen if you combined all of the following anxiety-causing locales into one retail store: a rat maze, Guantanamo Bay, the Amsterdam airport, Wal-Mart and "the running of the bulls in Pamplona."

Because of IKEA's intensity, Pam and I felt it necessary to frontload the trip with the conscious choice to survive. This resulted in an amazingly entertaining three amazing that we didn't just survive IKEA...we became the IKEA champions!

Here's your official how-to guide for surviving and enjoying a day at IKEA:

  1. Take a camera. Because any day in a retail store is somehow funnier if you can capture moments like "Pam chilling on a living room suite that's been set up in the IKEA parking garage." "Hey honey! What do you want to watch tonight? The volvo or the BMW?"

  2. Read the signs outloud. Because all of the signs in IKEA have an english name and a Swedish name. The day's made much funnier if you can say, "Hey Pam, are you interested in a Fjallsta for your bathroom or an Ektorp Muren for the living room?" (Or in this case, a "billy.")

  3. Make new friends. Obviously naming and befriending inanimate objects is a necessary coping mechanism for survival in any high-risk situation. (Think "Wilson the Volleyball" in Castaway.) Pam and I chose a posable artistic figurine, and we named him "Billy" in honor of the aformentioned Swedish Bookcase.

    Billy became the day's hero. He helped to personify the emotions we were feeling through the experience, and as it turns out, he's very photogenic.

    We nearly lost him at the halfway point. When we returned to Billy after our Swedish lunch, it was apparent that he had a desire to end his life by throwing himself from the shopping cart. (Apparently IKEA is as stressful to the merchandise as it is to the customers.)

    And Billy defended us from the more aggressive merchandise. Here, he defends against an assailant who tried to take the last set of blue tealight holders.

  4. Eat some meatballs. IKEA has its own restaurant, and by 12:30, we were starving. I said, "Pam, I am hungry. We will eat meatballs." And it was an enjoyable lunch (if you could tune out the hordes of screaming toddlers in the cafeteria demanding more meatballs.)

    And I'm convinced that the midpoint "stop and eat" break is completely necessary to making the overall IKEA experience bearable. How can you not be refreshed when you get 5 meatballs, fries, and a Diet Coke for $2.18?

  5. Read the tutorials. Sometimes in IKEA, there's no way to understand what they're trying to sell you without reading the instructions. This proved to be true during Pam and I's attempt to buy the perfect down comforters. Apparently, there are a lot of variables. So--reading the instructions proved vital (as did throwing ourselves onto the mock beds in supreme melodramatic fashion to ensure the perfect down quilt was purchased.) We both settled on an "Extra Warm Down Quilt" named Mysa Sol.

  6. Enjoy a post-IKEA debriefing time. Pam and I couldn't just leave IKEA and drive home. There would have been too much culture shock. So upon loading up our cart full of cheap household goods, we enjoyed Seattle's best cup of coffee (at Cafe Ladro, if you're wondering) and then spent two hours in the Lynnwood Guitar Center, jamming on really expensive Martin's and Taylor's. (The highlight of this experience was a blues guitarist who did some fantastic lead solos with Pam's amazing rhythm guitar and my impromptu vocals. Rock on!)

So all in all, IKEA day turned out well. Pam and I even went beyond survival to a straight-up "suck the marrow out of life" type IKEA experience. We proudly avoided "IKEA Syndrome" a term coined by my token Scandanavian friend Sonja, which she defines as what happens "when people lose all sense of normal social cues and manners because of all the stuff, made worse by the maze likeness of the overall store layout."

I think if we consulted Billy on this matter, he'd simply say that "We are the champions!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Mommy Struggle

It's a boy!

Congrat- ulations to Jade and Jed, proud parents of Caedmon Rider. I met Caedmon Rider for the first time this morning at his shower. (Shower's a funny word, isn't it? It wasn't raining babies.) Anyways--it was exciting to be introduced. He dressed up for the occasion, in baby cardigan and tie. Jade lovingly referred to it as his "nerd outfit." I preferred to call him Chandler.

Jade is one of my YD coworkers, who works in Anacortes, and she's been a great peer mentor whose illustrating what it looks like to blend desires for career and family. She's always been an inspiration to me in the ministry: she was the marketing director when I started at YD; she married at age 28, when everyone told her she was too old; and she waited until age 30 to have a baby. Now, she's attempting to work 3/4 time and raise Caedmon--she wants to do both. I'm so anxious to watch her work through this time of figuring out what it means to be a youth minister and a mom...

As fun as it was to carry a baby around for fifteen minutes, I have to say that he gets heavy, and I was glad to give him back. I can't really comprehend what it's like to have something that needs you all of the time and doesn't care if you're trying to take a nap or do work. Thinking about that kind of responsibility just makes me feel naïve and immature and selfish.

The other night in Austin, one of my coworkers asked me how I plan to balance ministry and family. I stared blankly, because I was thinking, "How on earth do I, Ms. Poster Child for the Naïve 'Don't Box Me Into Your Presuppositions' Mentalities" have any context to answer that question and sound intelligent. In fact, how can I even begin to predict a feeling I'll have years from now, after I give birth to this person I've never even met. I stumbled through an answer that basically said, "I don't know. Ask me 15 years from now, when I'm a mom trying to figure it out."

He went on to explain that he really believes that you can't become a whole person until you have kids. I stared blankly again, because I do not understand. And while I would normally say, "How dare you tell me I'm not a whole person," the more humble answer is, "Yeah, I really don't know." Because I don't.

It's really difficult to have someone look at you as you're doing your best to live life and serve the Lord and say that you're not a whole person...yet I watch Jade brought to tears saying, "I've never loved like this before" and I feel like I really am missing out on something.

I know I'm not ready, but I know that Jade is. I'm excited to see her work through these questions and glad to have her as a mentor in my life. The whole morning reminds me of a song Pam and I wrote on a Saturday afternoon in Oak Harbor:

The calendar says that we turned 25
And we don't really know what that means.
So far it seems that it's just a long list
Of what others expect us to be.

And we know we're not ready for
Houses or babies or
A life that is more complex
Than a Saturday walk
With our West Coast friends.

I was talking with friends last week saying, "Why was I more sure of what I wanted and more sure of my strong desire for kids when I was 20 than I am at 25." There's no good answer to that...other than life is strange, and God's always at work.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Austin: city of bats, live music, and long days...

I have survived!

This is my cry of joy on this Tuesday afternoon. Trust me--last Tuesday, survival didn't seem possible. I put in a 16-hour day of printing, packing, and preparing for the first of the four Youth Specialties' conventions I'll be attending this fall.

My expectations were all askew. I was consistently asking "How many applications do I take?" "What does the display board need to say?" "How am I going to transport a kayak, paddle, pump, display board, snowboard, skate board, ice axe, application packets, job descriptions, 3 computers, a projector, and rock gear in the luggage of 5 staff, two of which do not live within driving distance?" Last Tuesday was a long day.

But this Tuesday is a good day...and in reflection, this weekend was a good here's why:

  1. Youth Specialties' Conventions are fun.
    No matter what. It's a bunch of youth ministry folks gathering together to cut loose, network, and get some R&R. There's plenty of interesting things to be stimulated by: a man on a 10-foot unicycle, comedy sketches, live music, fun new faces.

  2. YD Staff are fun.
    This weekend, I spent quality time with four of my staff, both in the booth, in the hotel, and eating out. It's fabulous for me to get to know the staff and their hearts for our ministry better! These conversations inspire me to be more passionate about the work we're doing.

  3. Austin is fun.
    Texas has never been high on my travel agenda, but Austin certainly boasts some unique characteristics. It has the world's largest bat-watching location (on the bridge by my hotel.) It's the home of Stevie Ray Vaughan. It has lots of amazing outdoor concert venues. And--it has a fantastic independent record store, bookstore, and whole foods store. (It's also the home of University of Texas, so I considered it wise to not run around in a Troy Smith jersey and Brutus Buckeye mask singing the OSU fight song.)

  4. Recruiting staff is fun.
    While it's not fun to talk to a hundred people in a row who have no interest in adventure ministry, the Northwest, or job opportunities, it's so refreshing to have a conversation with someone who loves the Northwest, loves relational ministry, and is a self-prescribed "REI Junkie." There weren't as many of these conversations as I would have hoped, but at the end of the weekend, we have seven serious leads for full-time staff and seven more moderate leads for full-time staff. This is nothing to scoff at, and I look forward to following up with these individuals this week. It's also encouraging to return home and tell our staff about these leads...

  5. Old friends are fun.
    On Wednesday night, I walked into my hotel only to be greeted by Ashley Clark, a good college friend whom I hadn't seen since she graduated in 2002. We screamed and hugged and shared several good conversations about ministry. It had been a good long many years since we'd prayed together in our small group in Gerig Hall and worshipped at Upland UMC. It was certainly rejuvinating to see a familiar face.

  6. New friends are fun too.
    On Friday night, I was at the peak of my exhaustion when I passed a message board where someone had posted an ad requesting fellow concert-goers to a woman with "Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin-like sound" at a sweet venue called Threadgills. My heart burst at the idea of seeing a great alt-country concert in the live music capital of the U.S. So, even though I was exhausted and hate meeting new people when I'm exhausted, I called. And I met Clay--a complete kindred spirit who pretty much loves everything that I love. A youth worker from Tucson who made a discouraging night of exhaustion one of my most fantastic evenings on recent record...maybe ever.
So, go to Austin, see live music, recruit new staff, and you'll come home exhausted, but encouraged. That's the story.

And now, no longer these 10 day spurts between blogs. I have missed you.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Implosion of My Head

My brain has that feeling that's only comparable to the week before classes end during spring semester of my senior year of college!

I told mom today that even if I worked for 24 hours a day for the next six days, I probably still would not accomplish everything I want to get done. So. My perfectionism will have to chill out and prioritize.

I leave for the first of the four Youth Specialties Conventions a week from tomorrow. All of the following pieces have to be finished between now and then:

* Get pens
* Format sign up sheets for interviews
* Format interview guide sheets
* Put together 250 application packets
* Write cover letter for application packets
* Organize information for exhibit booth staff
* Design and order follow up postcards
* Test slide show on projector
* Find screen for projector
* Clear billing issue with rental equipment place in Austin
* Complete biographies for Areas/Bases
* Finalize job descriptions for available positions
* Get laptop fixed
* Finalize graphics
* Send final graphics to printer
* Get breath mints for staff
* Organize which staff is taking which stuff in their luggage
* Confirm flight
* Finish editing Corporate newsletter to send to publication prior to leaving for Austin
* Write and/or edit a Reciept Letter for October
* Lead 2-hour training session for staff on manning the YS booth
* Lead 30-minute training for new staff on Communications Standards and Corporate Identity Guidelines

And now, I go to Bible Study. BLAAAAAAAH. I will rest this evening. Otherwise, I will not make it through tomorrow.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Red Tape Stinks.

Recently I got the great idea to serve fresh Northwest coffee out of our booth at the Youth Specialties Convention. I was pumped about it, especially in talking to Fidalgo Bay Coffee, my favorite local roaster. They offered me a great deal on providing iced coffee drinks in YD logo cups! How cool! And how Northwest...

Today, I called Youth Specialties to ensure there were no food restrictions. They were like, "Great idea!" but said I should check with the convention center.

So I call the convention center and the catering director says, "You are not allowed to serve any food unless it's the nature of our business." What do I say, "Ummm....yes....we sell 'Youth Dynamics blend.'" Raaaaargh.

"But we can cater your booth for you!" she says.

I said, "That would defeat the point--which is to give the attendees a taste of something distinctly Northwest." I don't think she understood how we feel about good coffee. I couldn't even consider replacing the amazing Fidalgo Bay Coffee with $40/gallon catered convention coffee.

So, a grand idea has just panned out into nothing, and I'm back to the world of bumper stickers and stupid plastic breakables for promotional items.

We're going to the convention to recruit staff, and we're in the business of relationships. Coffee is a means to developing relationships. Seriously. And I can't believe the capitalism of convention centers can deny us that.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh, to no longer be transient...

If you wonder if moving a bazillion times and living out of boxes is fun, the answer is, "no it's not." Don't you remember the Israelites and how whiny they got in the desert? And they certainly didn't carry as many books around as I'd be like, premiere numero uno whiney Israelite. Even with all that great manna and quail.

Because truth be told--packing up all of your worldly belongings, moving them across the country, unpacking them, settling in, repacking them, moving them across town, unpacking them, settling in, repacking them, moving them up the highway, and unpacking them is not fun. At all. Well, I mean, it's fine for about 7.5 minutes, and then it's annoying.

Yet--if the end result is that you get to live in the promised land doing a job that you love and sharing a house with one of your favorite friends...well...then unpacking and repacking is just a side effect of that perceived happy life.

But just so you're prepared--these are a list of things you should know in case you try to move several times in a year--so that you're not caught off guard during your 40 years--err--several months in the desert: (I will not include the previously mentioned issues that took place during "night one in new house.")

1. When you get out of bed, you will step on stacks of books that have made it out of the box but not onto the bookshelf.

2. You will not dry your hair for two weeks, because you have yet to unpack the box with extension cords and surge bars.

3. You will have a hard time hearing movies through your stereo, because you will accidentally reverse the wiring for the small center speaker and the subwoofer. It's hard to hear dialogue that's resonating through a subwoofer and hard to hear bass that's resonating through a tiny center speaker.

4. You will get reeeeally tired of manna and quail and refuse to eat until the refrigerator is delivered on Thursday, because you will discover your easy-fix staples of macaroni and cheese or broccoli/chicken/rice or cereal do, in fact, require a refrigerator even in their simplicity.

5. You will discover that kitchen tables cannot be carried into storage rooms by one person unless you intended for there to be large gashes in the plaster walls (don't tell Heidi!)

6. You will keep half of your furniture in the carport because it's easier to move it inside once there's a place for it--only to discover that the neighbor's cat has peed on it.

7. You will move your beautiful cedar chest into your bedroom and place it directly on top of the heating register saying, "I'll move it when we turn the heater on." Two days later, when you move it back out into the living room when you turn the heater on, you will rip a gash in your bedroom door.

8. You will curse the day you decided to drag so many books everywhere, and then of course, trip over them as you get back into bed.

9. You will receive no more mail on time ever because your mail is being forwarded through two addresses already, and no one that sends you mail actually knows where you live.

10. You will realize that your driver's license and checks claim you live at an address you haven't lived at for six months and wonder if anyone cares.

11. You will keep getting refused the opportunity to buy gasoline, because you keep messing up the zip code on the auto-pay machine. You get annoyed with yourself, only to ease up when you discover the striking similarity between the three zip codes: 98223, 98233, and 98273. Right.

But--on the nicer side of things, you may end up, for the first time in recent memory, with five friends on a saturday afternoon, gathered around your kitchen table and eating cereal (which were prepared thanks to the refrigerating skills of a fine Coleman cooler.) Your roommate may call you back into her room, where she will exclaim with glee, "Isn't this exactly what you've wanted!" You will hold back tears and look around the room at stray curtain rods, unplugged appliances, and linens, and say, "Mmhmm!"

Friday, September 15, 2006


If life's a juggling act, I'm not sure how I'm succeeding. It feels like I'm behind on everything: personal support raising, preparations for the Youth Specialties conventions, moving, thank you notes, the Corporate newsletter, website updates, communication with new staff who are raising support, keeping in contact with friends and family.

And in the midst of it, I still have this desire to finish reading the whole Bible. I'm almost done with Deuteronomy...and I figure if I can get in a regular habit, I can pound the rest of it out in about six weeks...(Joshua through Malachi.)

Yet it's Friday, and there are meetings, unpacking, and a trip to Portland to see Carrie Underwood all on the agenda. And next week Red Suz is coming to visit....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Night #1 in my new digs...

So last night was night #1 of sleeping in the new house. I was alone! It was between all of these activities, imagine climbing up and over lots of boxes, tripping over table legs, and spending twenty minutes trying to find every item mentioned...

Night #1 Recap:

  1. Came home after work to paint the last coat on the "red wall" in the bedroom. Discovered that "last coat" was actually "next to last coat." Groaned.
  2. Helped Heidi move dryer into place. Consoled her over the huge holes that got torn in the linoleum by the angsty dryer.
  3. Decide to do laundry. Discover washer is leaking.
  4. Replace rubber washers in hoses.
  5. Discover I'm out of detergent.
  6. Drive to store for laundry detergent and dinner.
  7. Return home. Begin laundry. Plug in microwave after digging it off of the bottom of a big pile of boxes. Return to painting.
  8. Ten minutes later discover dinner is still frozen and washer has stopped. Realize microwave/washer have tripped breaker.
  9. Throw the switch and first cook dinner, THEN re-start laundry.
  10. Discover floor in laundry room is covered with water. Washer is still leaking. Ignore this.
  11. Put load in dryer. Return 20 minutes later to realize laundry room is roasting. Open a few windows, and then say, "Why is it SO HOT!?"
  12. Discover that dryer silver caterpillar thingy has fallen off. Hot dryer air is going right into room.
  13. Wait ten minutes for dryer to cool, then spend 20 minutes reattaching silver caterpillar thingy.
  14. Organize empty boxes in living room. Listen to country music stars recount stories of where they were on 9/11/01 on KMPS.
  15. Organize boxes in storage room weeding out, "Anything I want right now." This includes 30 pairs of shoes, a box full of unsorted toiletries, linens, and jeans.
  16. Move box springs and mattress into bedroom from living room.
  17. Straighten living room enough for there to be a "clear walkway."
  18. Begin Coat #3 of red paint around 10pm.
  19. Complete painting and rejoice! Throw the pile of "Anything I want right now" into the bedroom in the middle of the floor.
  20. Talk to "Pam Shaffer is eating a vanilla wafer" and recount exciting moving tales.
  21. Put bed together.
  22. Put not-really-dried linens on bed.
  23. Fall asleep for night #1.
Morning #1--the exciting addendum
  1. Wake up. Try to take a shower. Realize have no idea where shower stuff is.
  2. Find big box of shower stuff in storage room. No shampoo.
  3. Freak out.
  4. Open shower curtain to discover Heidi has already put shampoo in shower. Along with an entire case of toilet paper and a rubbermaid bin.
  5. Move toilet paper and rubbermaid to bathroom floor.
  6. Commence shower.
  7. Smoke alarm triggered. Incessant ear-piercing beeping.
  8. Bolt out of shower, dripping wet in hallway, worried that hot water heater is triggering a fire because it's sitting in a pool of water from leaky washer.
  9. Confirm the smoke alarm is dumb. Was triggered by shower steam. Rip it from wall, remove battery.
  10. Finish shower. Finish getting ready for work.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Things to be thankful for on a Monday morning:

1. Coffee.
2. An easy move on Saturday (despite some issues with the U-Haul dealer.)
3. The paint in my bedroom: "Toffee Crunch" and "Cinnamon Cherry."
4. PUD turning on the water at the house this morning.
5. The #1 Buckeyes defeating the #2 Long Horns IN Texas. Amazing!
6. The Seahawks eeking out an away victory over the Lions.
7. More Coffee.
8. A partially organized kitchen. (Just try organizing two full kitchens worth of stuff into one small kitchen. It is not easy. Partially organized is a feat!)
9. A brand new used office chair. (The leather kind with rolling wheels. The President got an upgrade, so, I in turn, did also.)
10. Having a five-minute commute to work this morning.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tomorrow is Moving Day!

At 10am tomorrow, I have three friends arriving to help me pack up a U-Haul truck and drive it the 25 miles from Arlington to Mt. Vernon.

I will certainly miss living in the loft of Jenny's beautiful mountain house, waking up every morning and seeing the sunrise over the mountains...

...but I'm very excited to live in a house with Heidi. I get to paint my bedroom!!! And starting Monday, I have a 5-minute commute to work! Yeah!

So far in the move, my friends think that I have a ridiculous amount of books. When we packed them up last night, there were ten medium-sized boxes just full of books. I think it's good that I wasn't a polar explorer...because they would have probably found me trapped in ice with no food and a big suitcase full of old National Geographic magazines.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hallooo Pacific Ocean!

For the first time in recorded history, I have seen and touched the Pacific Ocean!

If you're wondering how on earth I've lived on the West Coast for two whole years without seeing the Pacific Ocean, there's a logical answer: the Ocean is far away. Now, don't be misled--I live close to the water. In fact, from where I'm sitting right now, I could be to saltwater in about fifteen minutes...but it's the Puget's not the Ocean. While the Sound is calm, the Ocean is raging...and while the Sound is full of islands, the Ocean is vast...while the Sound is fifteen minutes away, the Ocean is a long drive through Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and down a lot of backroads towards the coast.

One of my best Washington friends (and fellow YD Adventures Rafting Guide) Heidi and I took the long weekend and drove to her family's beach home near Long Beach, WA, which is a five-hour drive from Arlington. The three days away were very welcome for both of us. We're in the process of moving into a house that Heidi just bought (which is about ten minutes from my office, chopping my commute down substantially.) We don't have possession of the house yet, so we had three days of waiting with nothing to do except worry about details.

On Sunday, the Pacific Ocean and I became good friends. We hung out together for about six hours while Heidi went fishing at the Columbia River jetty. While she caught 14 sea bass, I read and drew and listened to music. It was excellent! And--for dinner, we had fresh sea bass. Nice!

So, the Pacific Ocean was big and tumultuous and scary. It's not a spot where you think, "Let's go swimming." It's a spot where you think, "If I end up in that surf, I will die." So, be careful!

Hello Pacific Ocean! I'm glad we've now been formally introduced, and I hope that we can hang out again in the near future!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Giggling in my office.

I'm sitting in my office reading a marketing book, and I'm giggling outloud. No one else is within 35 feet of me. So, if someone walked by my office and saw me giggling, maybe they would think I was crazy. When they said, "Why are you giggling," and I said, "I'm reading a book about marketing," then they would know I was crazy...

But then I'd read aloud this witty sentence written by Mark Stevens, author of Your marketing sucks: "If you don't have the guts to change the way you've been doing things, open your office window, toss out gobs of thousand-dollar bills, and you'll accomplish the same as you're doing now in much less time." The image of me opening up the window and tossing out thousands of dollars is very, very funny, mostly because it would be very's ridiculous...but it would probably appease those hoodlums who broke into a car in our parking lot a few weeks ago.

I bought the book pretty much because the front page made me giggle in Barnes and Noble. Now I'm giggling at my desk. And I'm learning stuff. So for the time being, we'll assume that a good thing is happening, because I'm having fun and learning at the same time.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Golf Marathon 2006!

Yesterday, 42 golfers gathered at 5:30am to begin 12 hours of labor for the Lord on the golf course! It was YD's 15th Annual Golf Marathon!

For the third year, Dr. Spencer (far right with daughter, Corrin) golfed on my behalf. Thanks to his hard work and dedication, he raised over $3000 thus far and logged 100 holes in one day! I am so thankful for him!

I was involved in a lot of the logistics of the day, gathering corporate sponsorship and preparing a lot of the mailings for the day. I also was extremely proud of the gift bags that were put together. Praise the Lord the hats I ordered showed up at 9am too!!!

Most of my afternoon yesterday was spent rescuing golfers in their nearly dead golf carts. Apparently, golf carts are not designed to hold a charge for a hundred holes. What?! That's not a normal thing to do?! I'm still feeling moderately exhausted after working for 18 hours straight, and my legs are riddled with bug bites...eeeugh. But, over $78,000 was raised for YD! Praise God for His provision!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Golf Marathon is Coming!

Monday is Golf Marathon, which means that I will be waking up at 4:00am. Why? Because at 5:30am, 40 golfers are going to show up to play 100 holes in one day to raise money for Youth Dynamics. Dr. Spencer will be playing on my behalf for the third year in a row and has set a goal of $7500. If you would like to contribute to my golfer, Dr. Spencer, click here.

For the past two months, I've been helping with a lot of logistics for the event, primarily in preparing the golfer gift bags. I have to say, that I was hoping for an Academy Awards style gift bag, with crystal duck statues, designer gowns, and original pressings of the Gutenburg Bible. But, maybe that's aiming a little high for year #1 as Gift Bag Coordinator...I mean, I have to have something to build to, right? And besides, what will a golfer do with a designer gown?

But today, I nearly shed a tear as I gazed upon my gift bags lined up so beautifully on the balcony of our log cabin office. And I'm so proud of the Port Authority Silk Blend camp shirts I ordered with embroidered YD logos above the pocket.

What I'm not proud of is UPS, who thought it would be a fun joke to reroute the embroidered YD logo baseball caps to Bellingham this morning instead of to our office? Now, my logos guy is on a UPS rampage making angry phone calls and telling them to get those hats here stat. GRRR. How dare UPS try to infringe on Gift Bag perfection.

Regardless, the golfers will be amazed when they open up their Paper Factory gift bags to discover their beautiful shirts AND hats, a complementary golf towel, extra golf balls and tees, pens and pencils, scorecards, and a Skagit Recycling litter bag filled with gum, Tic Tacs, Sunblock, Band Aids, and the ever-important heart attack preventer: Aspirin. (I actually typed that list out entirely for my own benefit so that next fall, I can open up my blog and figure out what was in last year's gift bags.)

So, stay tuned for next week, when exciting stories and photos of the 15th Annual Golf Marathon will resound from the heavens.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Native American Concerts are Fun.

Last week, I enjoyed the best Sunday afternoon that has ever been enjoyed in the greater Arlington area. That's not an exaggeration. The weather was clear and sunny...there were good friends around...and two classic early-90's bands were on the stage (Toad the Wet Sprocket and The Verve Pipe.)

We were at the Stillaguamish Tribe's Festival of the River. I'm not really sure what the point of the event was--because they gave us a free concert and then we left. Well, I take that back. Erin ate some Indian Fry Bread that she wasn't too excited about, and we ate a lot of popcorn, watched the concert...and then we left.

What the whole thing affirmed is that Arlington is full of crazy people, i.e. Belly Dancers and also affirmed that I apparently prefer friends with red hair, since I have several: Pam, Renee, SuzJ, Erin, and Jenny. And it affirmed that I know everyone in the world, because, the guys in The Verve Pipe are the cousins of my college R.A.

So. Next August, plan your life around Stillaguamish Tribe's Festival of the River. I'll be there, eating a lot of popcorn, belly dancing, and feeling nostalgic for the 90's.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's not your fault,'s mine.

This morning, I put in Natasha Bedingfield's cd on the way to work. I didn't really want to listen to pop at 7:30am, but listening to Glen Phillips' new solo album for the 27th time in 3 days was feeling unbearable. (I became a little OCD after hearing him live with Toad the Wet Sprocket and the Verve Pipe last weekend. More details on that later.)

The first words out of Natasha's mouth were simple: "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you." What? Who do I love?? What in the world? How is this supposed to motivate me to go about my day?

The problem is that my Bible reading has gotten chucked out the window since I started leaving for work at 7:30am. My 12-week read-through-the-Bible has been stuck in Numbers for a month (and at the defense of Numbers, it isn't Numbers' fault. Numbers gets a bad rap--it's actually quite engaging. Seriously.) And now instead of filling myself with anything of substance, I'm hearing, "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you."

So, I was fighting that internal struggle where I know there's a right answer, and I just haven't had the will to make it happen. I ask myself, what if this were a worship song? What if I was singing this to the Lord? At that moment, I nearly burst out in tears, because I realized how overwhelmingly I've missed sitting in His presence and reading His word this month. It was overwhelming to think of Creator God choosing to spend time with me while I instead choose to drift away in fanciful daydreams or cheer for Benji on So You Think You Can Dance.

I realize that if I really sang Natasha's words passionately towards the Lord, I'd be saying, "These words are my own, from my heart flow, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. There's no way to better say I love you, I love you." It felt good to tell the Lord I loved Him, thanks to Natasha's words, but it also felt overwhelming. It felt like I suppose it would feel if your spouse or child disappeared for a month, and suddenly, after a month of not hearing from him or her, the phone rang, and you heard, "I love you." There would be grace and mercy there, I suppose, but there would also be that frustration and anger of, "Where have you been? Why have you left me? What are you DOING?"

So, I'm not really prodigal so much as 'easily distracted?' Maybe if you're easily distracted, you might as well run away. Is being distracted while still giving off the physical appearance of the walk and the talk worth anything anyways? Tonight, I'm going home to spend at least an hour in Numbers and Deuteronomy. I'm convinced this time will bring's been 6 weeks of distraction...and I have missed my time with the Lord.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Gary and Terrie (aka Lewis and Clark) star in "The Epic Journey West 2006"
...featuring supporting character Heather (aka Sacagawea)

On Friday, August 4th, Modern-day Lewis and Clark (Dad and Mom) arrived in their woodland cabin near Skykomish, Washington. They completed their westward journey in 10 hours. The first stop was at the nearby United States Postal Service branch! Skykomish! What a metropolis!! (Dad was particularly fond of the "Antique Stove Museum.")

The first big day trip was to Stonewater Ranch, YD's new camp property in the Cascade Mountains. Mom and Dad met lots of fun YD Adventures staff and learned how to pack food for 6-day rafting trips. They were super-impressed with the amazing 138-acres of land and beautiful lodging facilities!

After touring Stonewater Ranch, the real adventure was waiting in the historic Bavarian town of Leavenworth. Liederhosen, Christmas stores, big pretzels, and of course, the popular Leavenworth hat shop! It was hard for Dad to resist spending all of his spending money on fancy, decorative hats, but I testify that he fought the urges and emerged without a single purchase!

Throughout the visit to Leavenworth and the proceeding days, Mom and Dad received lots of introductory lessons to Whitewater. They learned about the major rapids on the Wenatchee River, and later, viewed the rapids up close and personal at Deception Falls, near Stevens Pass. In this photo, I'm saying, "See Mom and Dad! Class IV kayaking is fun!" Dad was not so convinced. He became very upset at the very thought of Class IV kayaking...(Deception Falls was a rather intimidating 'Beginner's route'...for sure...) But Mom reassured Dad that life always makes more sense if you read the instruction manuals. Fortunately, there were lots of instruction manuals nearby at the Interpretive Center to ease Dad's whitewater apprehensions.

Halfway through the trip, Mom and Dad decided to renew their vows. I was the only available person to perform the ceremony, so, I read aloud from Leviticus before re-pronouncing them husband and wife. They were thrilled!

Our last big trip as a family before Mom and Dad took a few more days to Honeymoon was to the little village of Seattle. There were plenty of fun sites to explore in this little unknown corner of the Northwest. I wanted to have fresh lobster for dinner from Pike's Place Market. Dad said, "No way! Take me out to the ballgame!" The Mariners were playing Tampa Bay, which I guarantee is not the most exciting sports entertainment in the area (especially with David Beckham arriving in Seattle that night.) So we just stopped by the field to say Hi before enjoying a nice dinner at Pyramid. Seattle proved to be rather extensive, as far as little villages go. There was the flagship REI, there was the Experience Music Project (with Robbie Robertson's guitar from The Last Waltz! My heart's joy complete!) and lots of interesting people-watching and site-seeing.

So, in conclusion, if you're wondering if a Northwest vacation might be right for you, I offer as Exhibit A, this fine photo of Dad, in typical Northwest environmental fashion, chaining himself to the trail entrance at Wallace Falls (where he was found chanting, "Heck no! We won't go home!") Apparently the joy of the week was overwhelming for him! So, if you're coming to visit, beware, because the region takes a hold on your soul and you will certainly feel compelled to stay! Mom and I were unsure what to do with Dad in his hysterical state, so we went out for Decaf Latte's at Skykomish's "Last Chance" Espresso Stand. All-in-all...a fabulous week!