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.