Monday, November 29, 2010

I think craziness is contagious

It has been several years since I was last home for Thanksgiving. I was excited to be around this year to participate in the Black Friday shopping extravaganza, or so I thought. You see, back when Mara and I were still living at home and participating in this tradition it began around 4 or 5 am. Nothing too extreme. But every year it seems the stores begin to open earlier. Even knowing that the stores would be open much earlier this year, I had complete faith that mom and Crystal still had some sanity left in their bones. I guess I was wrong. They are completely INSANE and guess what? I think it's rubbing off!! :) On Thanksgiving, midnight began to be thrown around as a potential departure time. To be completely honest, I was sure they were joking. I was seriously just laughing that suggestion off. I thought, if nothing else, having Kelbie with us for the first time (she has reached the ripe old age of 12 and now is allowed to join in the craziness) would prevent such a thing from happening. But nope, their insanity knows no bounds. :)

So I laid on my parents couch, didn't even change into pajamas, with my head in Brennan's lap and we slept for 45 minutes. (Brennan was going out at the same time we were to try to get himself a new TV. He had it even worse than me, he had to sleep sitting up!) After a very restful and energizing (haha) 45 minutes it was time to get up and get our game faces on. What a day we had ahead of us.

Our first stop was the beloved WalMart. Apparently the poor WalMart employees had a hard time keeping the crazy women back, so sales that were supposed to start at midnight were actually wiped out long before then. We missed out on a few things we were hoping for, but still managed to find more than enough. The best thing about WalMart was definitely the "friends" that we made in line. One woman just perched herself on Crystal's shoulder while we waited, talking incessantly. Mom made us change lanes (She really thinks she is good and being able to tell which line with be faster.) and this woman even followed us to the new line!!! We just couldn't shake her. We also watched some man with a really impressively nasty mullet get out his pocket knife and cute open the box holding his new coffee maker. That's all he did. He didn't pull it out or anything. Just cut it open and put it back in his cart. Not sure what that was all about.

The next stop of note was Target. This is where Brennan waited in line for 2 and a half hours in the freezing cold. We got in line about 25 minutes before the store open and it was brutal. I don't know how he survived!! Our biggest challenge in Target was trying to get a hold of each other. This particular Target is like a black hole and there is no cell phone reception. That sort of frustration can be difficult to deal with at 4 in the morning. :) We also got some hot chocolate there only to find out (after we were long gone of course) that three of the four cups just tasted like hot water. Yummy.

Then there was Menards. Oh Menards, I am not your biggest fan. Any other day of the year, you would hardly find a lick of estrogen in that store. But on Black Friday? Good grief. First there is the line outside. We got in line about 10 minutes before the store opened so we weren't anywhere near the front. But about 5 minutes later swarms of people come from waiting in their cars and try to get in at the front of the line. This causes quite a collapse when the doors open. Everyone who has waited in line panics that these people are going to get in before them, and the entire line collapses and it's just a mob of people trying to get through the door. People are yelling at each other and pushing. It is really quite a scene. I have never witnessed anything like it. That's just outside. Then you get in and it's an absolute zoo. On Black Friday Menards sells things it never does any other day. So there is zero logic in where anything can be found. So really you just wander around and hope you get lucky. But if you see something a second too late, you are out of luck my friend, there is no swimming upstream. It is simply too congested.

As we waited in line at Menards, Crystal gets a call from Kelbie, who was sleeping in the car, saying she needed to use the bathroom. Eventually it was decided that she would meet me by the doors and I would bring her in and show her where the bathrooms were. One problem. As she got out of the car the alarm went off. Too bad mom can't stand in a line to save her life so we didn't have the keys. So I went out to get Kelbie to find that the car had given up on beeping and was just flashing its lights. I made the mistake, however, of opening the door a second time to lock it, making the beeping begin again right as Kelbie and I make a run for the store. I'm sure that didn't look suspicious at all...

It was really just one adventure after another. By the time we stopped for breakfast Kelbie was a zombie, basically unable to communicate. My brain was evidently not functioning enough to order a decent breakfast. It was super nasty. Of course, mom and Kelbie wait until after I order to tell me they thought it looked disgusting from the start. Thanks guys!
So I realize this post was probably a little negative sounding. You are probably wondering, why don't you just stay home if you think it is all so ridiculous? Well, because there is a very sick part of me that finds it all very fun. I hate shopping. Brennan will attest to that. But somehow I have fun on a 12 hour shopping trip on the busiest day of the year. I would say it probably has something to do with the company. We don't take it too seriously so we end up being able to enjoy a lot of laughs together. So even with the sleep deprivation, the gross hot chocolate, the disappointing breakfast, the crazy people, and mom's severe line ADD (so severe that she will leave her cart with a complete stranger in order to do some browsing), I would still do it again next year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

For Your Viewing Pleasure

My brother-in-law, Rich. I'm pretty sure he is a good enough sport that he will forgive me for this. Thought you might enjoy. :)

p.s. That is not Rich's hair. It goes to a doll.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Barrage and Living Vicariously

Last week I had the opportunity to go see a performance of Barrage with my family while Brennan was at work. Barrage is a group sort of along the lines of Stomp. It is made up of several violinists/fiddlers, a drummer, and a couple guitarists. They put on a fun, high-energy show filled with great music, lots of dancing, and creative ideas. The group came to my hometown and spent the afternoon with most of the kids in the district who are in orchestra. Among other things that I am sure they spent their time doing, they prepared a number to perform with the students on stage that night. What a neat idea for these professional instrumentalists to spend time with kids who are just learning. I would have loved to do something like that when I was kid! The concert was lots of fun and I would highly recommend seeing this group if they are ever in your area.
So what does this have to do with living vicariously? Well when I was a real little kid I couldn't wait to play the violin. I had big dreams of becoming a really great violinist. I hoped to one day have an electric violin (not sure why, but I did). So in third grade I started taking lessons and I stuck with it all the way till.....sixth grade. Yeah, not too long. The biggest problem was that I didn't know how to read music until I had to take a music class in 6th grade. And by then I was so far behind everyone else that orchestra was just miserable for me. (And at that point I didn't really realize that the music reading was probably my biggest problem, I just figured I stunk at the violin.) Now I have some pretty fantastic parents, who never really tried to push their own dreams on me. But there were still a few times that I remember feeling like they were and accusing them of trying to realize those dreams vicariously through me. Well as I listened to Barrage, I thought to heck with it!! I have no problem living vicariously through my kids! I am going to force them all to play the violin! I just love the sound of violins, and cellos for that matter. And when people are good at playing instruments they seem to have so much fun doing it. So , really my kids might hate me for awhile, but they will thank me later, right? :) Haha, what a way to justify it. Okay, so I don't actually think I will force my kids to play a certain instrument, but I will certainly encourage them to at least try an instrument of THEIR choice. And I've been picking up my old violin and giving it a go every now and again, so who knows, maybe I will realize my own violining dreams and I won't have to rely on living vicariously through my children. :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Murder in the Dark

Brennan and I were able to have Crystal's kids over last night for a sleepover. We really enjoy these sorts of things with all of our nieces and nephews. What a fun opportunity to do something special and fun with them. Somehow I managed to not get my camera out a single time while they were here! But I did realize that I never shared any pictures from the last time they were over. Since their sleepovers here are pretty much the same routine every time it's almost like these pictures are from last night. :)

First of all, I have to say that Kelbie is just waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy too old. What on earth happened? She hung out with me in the kitchen while the younger kids played with Brennan and I was having very adult-like conversations with her. What?? Since when did little Kelbie get to be so old? It's weird, but it's pretty neat too. I enjoy seeing how our relationship changes as she grows up.

As far as the younger kids go, I come in far behind Brennan on the list of favorites. They just think he is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Let's face it, he tells much better jokes, always has funny youtube videos to share, can pick them up and throw them on the love sac, and changed his pancake recipe so they could have fluffier pancakes, I mean what's not to love? :) Most recently he has taught them a game called "Murder in the Dark" and they love to play it in our very empty downstairs. For those of you not familiar with this game, you blindfold someone and spin them around, then turn off all the lights, and the person who is blindfolded has to try to tag someone else. Hours of entertainment, my friends, hours.
Caden will tell you that no sleepover is complete without the boys staying up late to play video games. Although, now that we have Band Hero us girls will sometimes join them for a few songs (giving us a full, and very talented, band) before we turn it completely over to them.
Last night was tons of fun. Being an aunt is the best, in my humble opinion. I just wish we could live closer to all of our nieces and nephews.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Brennan is working at Cold Stone tonight and I have no friends so I am all by my lonesome. What better thing to do than to blog about Brennan while he isn't here to tell me not to. :)

Last Saturday Brennan got home from work around 12:15 am. For some absurd reason I was still awake to see him come waltzing in wearing gym shorts!! It has gotten cold here in Iowa so I was quite surprised to see him wearing shorts. I asked him why he had decided to take his pants off for the chilly drive home. To which he replied that there was a wardrobe malfunction at work. Apparently in the middle of his shift he bent over to pick something up to hear rrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiippppppppppppp. He quickly tied his apron on backward and went straight to the bathroom to assess the damage. After trying to staple the pants back together, he decided the rip was just a little too intense to get away with. Luckily he had some gym shorts in his car that he could change into for the rest of his shift. I made him put the pants back on when he got home so I could see what it looked like. I could not stop laughing!! At 12:30 in the morning, when I was dead tired, I was laughing hysterically at my poor husband's pants.
Here they are:
It just keeps going!! And it's not even along a seam. You can see where he tried to staple them at the top. Oh, dear. Still makes me laugh. :) Hope it did the same for you on this fine Thursday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Brennan's Trip

Last weekend Brennan's step brother, Brad, got married in Mesa, Arizona. Since I already had my trip planned to see Mara, we just decided to have my trip coincide with the wedding. But between school, two new jobs, and the expense of a ticket, we didn't think we were going to be able to get Brennan there. I was just going to have to represent. :) However, he was able to work everything out with his jobs and bid on a ticket on Friday morning. He got in incredibly late on Friday night, but was there for the wedding on Saturday which is what was important.

Brad and Laurie, the happy couple.
Me and Brennan at the Mesa temple.
Dustin and Quinton looked a little like twins. So we had to take a picture.
During his short trip Brennan was even able to squeeze in some baby time. Little Jade with Uncle Brennan.
Because of their missions, Brad and Brennan haven't seen each other in over four years. Brennan was so excited to be able to see him again, and it was great for me to be able to meet him. It was neat to be there to share in Brad and Laurie's big day.
Quinton and Brennan

I am so glad Brennan got to be in Arizona for the wedding and spend the entire weekend with his family. He had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ahntee Rachel

I was able to take a few days off work this last week and go visit my sister Mara and her family in Arizona. What a great trip! Ben and Mara were the best of hosts and I loved every minute with little Jade. She is such a great baby! I hope all my babies are that good. (and that cute:))

Of course, first on mine and Mara's list of things to do was to go shopping. We had a very important find coordinating outfits for Mara, Ben, and Jade for their family photos. We spent a fair amount of time in stores, but we had lots of laughs and came home with these sweet matching shirts:
Haha, we are nerds.

The weather was beautiful there. Even a little too warm at times, but I won't complain. We got to enjoy a lot of nice walks and some swings on the hammock. I even got to dip my feet in the pool for a bit. Mara, Jade, and I were able to go miniature golfing one morning. I love miniature golfing, but there aren't any good courses here in Iowa, so it was a great treat. Plus I won, which is an awesome bonus haha.

Jade especially enjoyed the golfing. :)

Mara and I got in touch with our inner craftiness during this trip as well. Mara's ward had a craft activity that she wasn't able to make it to because she had just had Jade, so we decided to do the craft that she signed up for. And then we decided to do it again. And again and again. Here are the results:
Really all the credit goes to Mara. All I did was sew the lines around the edge of each headband. She made all the flowers and sewed them to the headbands. I think they turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself!
Me and Mara modeling some of our handiwork.

With Ben off work on Saturday, we go "out in the wilderness" and take a little hike and enjoy some yummy foil dinners. The weather was perfect that evening.

Ben says I look high in this picture, but it's not nearly as bad as the first attempt. I guess I was tired or something.
I love her hat!
No need to worry...Ben was there with his trusty companion to keep us safe.

Thanks for letting me crash your life and sort of steal Mara for a bit Ben! Sorry for your lack of sleep, but thanks for staying up to hang out with me.

Jade loves to be naked. It was my favorite to see her right before bath time at night. She would be so talkative and smiley. Way too cute.
Look at the joy that simply being without clothing gives her.
There's a Jade look for you.

Although playing games and hanging out with Mara and Ben was tons of fun, and having great conversations and laughs with Mara during the days was wonderful, the highlight of my trip was definitely Jade time. I love being an aunt. This is number 12 for me, and it still hasn't gotten old. So I will now supply you with a plethora of photos of me and Jade enjoying our time together.

Ben referred to me as auntee Rachel (pronounced ahntee) on this trip. It always made me laugh.
Right before I left. So sad to leave them all. :( I miss them already.

The trip was great. I love being with family and wish I could see Mara more often. We were sure to burn the candle at both ends, staying up late and waking up early to maximize our time together. It made for incredible fatigue by the end of the trip, but it was well worth it. Thanks Mara, Ben and Jade for a great vacation!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Goodbye Poof

Once upon a time Brennan's hair was getting long. I mean really long. We kept putting off getting his hair cut and it just got longer and longer. Until one day he was wearing a hat and Crystal pointed out the curly poof sticking out the back. It was practically a pony tail! I couldn't stop laughing.

Check out the poof!

Usually we just have my dad cut his hair, but Brennan convinced me to borrow my dad's shears and cut it myself. I have never cut anyone's hair before. Let alone Brennan's long, thick, curly stuff. It took a very long time, a lot of help from Brennan, and a few minor touch ups by my dad a few days later, but it all worked out and he had a decent hair cut in the end. Not sure if I will be doing that again soon though.

The new do. I'm pretty good. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Birth Week Continued

The celebrations seemed to continue all week. On Monday my mom met me in Cedar Rapids for lunch. It was a lot of fun and a great break from the ordinary routine. On Tuesday Brennan took me to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. Delicious! My parents came over that evening for some delicious cake Brennan made from scratch. Delicious again! And then on Wednesday our friends Kassy and David came over for dinner. Kassy brought me a beautiful flower arrangement in a pumpkin. What a creative idea!

Brennan gave me Band Hero for the Wii for my birthday. Funny story about that...the night before my birthday Brennan and I were at Walmart picking up a few things. We parted ways at one point and I passed Band Hero and it was on sale!! I immediately called Mara, secretly hoping she would talk me into buying it (I'm a tight wad and it's hard for me to convince myself to spend money on fun things). As I got off the phone with her Brennan walked up and so I excitedly started telling him about the great deal we had before us. Brennan is usually just as good as Mara at trying to convince me to buy things like that but his reaction was completely different this time. He just kept asking me to just leave. He wasn't even excited about the steal of a deal I just found! It didn't take me long to put two and two together and realize why I he was being so weird. So.. I spoiled my birthday surprise. But it didn't make it any less great! We have already had a blast rocking out!

My mom and dad gave me a sewing machine. I have no idea where to begin with that mysterious machine but I am so excited to learn! I was sure to ask my mom if the gift came with free lessons from her. She agreed to it, assuring me that it is a piece of cake. We'll see about that. I actually kind of spoiled that surprise as well. When we were at my parents the other day my mom went in the other room to ask Brennan about his present for me. I waited right outside the room and pretended I heard them, even though I didn't hear a thing. When I teased them about knowing what mom's gift was, they asked me what letter it started with. Well since I had no idea what the present actually was I just went with the only guess I had (a sewing machine) and said "s". Haha, little did I know that I completely convinced them that I had heard and I knew what I was getting. Once again, I sort of ruined the surprise, but I still loved it.

All in all I'd say it was a pretty great birthday!