Monday, December 15, 2008

What a Weekend

I had one of those weekends that was so wonderful I feel like it couldn’t have really happened. It’s Monday afternoon and I’m starting my last (sort of) full week until Christmas so I know it DID happen but I think I might have dreamed my way through it.

It of course started on Friday. I was relieved the work week was over. They are a little long right now, mostly because of my inability to focus and Friday evening crept slowly into being. Erin got into town at about 10am and it killed me to not be able to immediately meet up with her, but I knew she needed time with her parents and I needed time to recharge myself so I wouldn’t end up starting the week out of sorts. I left work and went for a really nice swim. I did something to my right quad muscle about a week ago so I’ve been being careful with it and swimming, as long as I only do a flutter kick and steer clear of a frog kick, has been a good “rehab” type exercise. It was a very empty and quiet pool and I enjoyed it so much I swam twice as long as I had planned. I sat in the hot tub for a while afterward and enjoyed a conversation with my exboyfriend’s cousin (random) and had a good laugh as we talked about my most stressful moment working for Snohomish County (which he had caused). That stressful moment at the county was also the first and I believe only time, I almost committed a felony. It’s a funny and long story. If you want to hear it I’m happy to tell it. Just ask me sometime.

On Saturday morning I coached my basketball team to our second loss. Well, we can’t win them all and evidently the team we played has played together for a long time. My team is WONDERFUL. I need to get some pictures and post them. They are all third grade girls and they are all so incredibly well behaved it’s a bit amazing. Sometimes I wonder if they are scared of me or something. I don’t think I’m scary……

Anyway, after the game I went and met up with Kirstin and we went downtown for an Argosy cruise. It was the last of my three free cruises that my mom won for me at an auction. It was interesting, not my favorite of the three, but we went down around the industrial shipping yards near the West Seattle Bridge. That portion of Seattle is a bit fascinating to me because I just don’t think about it at all. It’s sort of an afterthought to me. To get up close and personal and learn some of the more interesting facts about the ship yards was really neat. After the cruise we went up to Green Lake and sat for about an hour in Chocolates and had a nice chance to talk and stay warm until we went and met up with Tammy, Grace, Susan, Alec, Ryan and one other girl whose name is escaping me (shoot) for the Green Lake Luminaries. It was beautiful and the snow started to fall as we walked around the lake. Spontaneous caroling broke out around the lake and we stopped and sang along with more organized caroling at times. From choirs to a band of Ukuleles who took “referrals” it was a pretty neat event. There was ample time to visit and enjoy the lights on the houses around the lake. It definitely felt like Christmas.

One of the things Ryan and I talked about as we circled the lake stuck with me into the next day and I’m still sort of pondering it. He told me that on Friday he was working in the pouring down rain and it hit him how it was a bit ridiculous (I think that was the word he used) to be doing what he was doing at that moment. I wish now I had asked him a few more questions about it. I don’t know if he meant that his work was ridiculous, that being out in the weather was or specifically what caused him to have that feeling. I asked some questions but in hindsight still didn’t have the clarification I wished I had gotten. I started thinking about it more on my way home and how there are times in life where you have that moment, we all have them, the moment where you ask yourself “what the heck am I doing”. I think at our age for most of us that question comes when thinking about our careers. They take a lot of time, time that you could be doing something else or working toward a different end. As some of you know I’m at a point where I’m trying to make a change. I currently have an idea about what that change might be but I’m not certain. If not this option then what? I know what I don’t want but figuring what I DO want is a bit more tricky. Sometimes, dealing with people’s stupid petty problems is a bit ridiculous. Having to work within the “rules” established by courts for page limits and time limits and other rules is often ridiculous – especially when you consider sometimes it masks what is truly “justice”. Anyway, I’m nowhere near finished processing this as related to my own life and I wish I had pressed Ryan a bit more about what he meant. Maybe he could have given me some clarification in my own life. If only the answer were simple. The New Year is coming and I have resolutions to make.

This is just one example of the good conversation that happened as we walked around the lake. I walked away feeling blessed by my time catching up with Susan and the time I had with Kirstin throughout the day and then topped off with good conversation about various things (serious and not) around the lake with a group of new friends. It was an amazing few hours.

Saturday night Erin was at my house and we caught up and watched cheesy ABC Family Christmas specials without heckling from Daniel. Sunday we got up and went to Arlington to hunt for a Christmas tree. Since as long as I can remember our families would go there to get a tree for Christmas. There were hayrides and cider and lots of wet years. The farm has changed a bit, there are no hayrides and you have to pay for the cider but the power lines still buzz above and there is still a smoking hot woodstove in the hut. This year we got to go get a tree in the snow. Still wet, but a fun kind of wet. I like to have an excuse to pull my Jeep out of the garage and have her do some work. It makes me think of being in OR and MN. Erin and I were called “burley women” for going on our own to cut down a tree and take it home. I think Erin was offended. I was proud. Ha!

The tree went up and was decorated all while watching Home Alone 1 (and part of 2) and we went to her parents place for dinner. It is so nice to have Erin in town. There is a comfort in “best friends” and my best friends have all scattered overtime so when they come back it is always wonderful. I’m counting the days (4) until Adrienne gets here and the months (3) until Sarah and my baby Jake come visit and the weeks after that (3) until I make a trip to MN to see Jenny, Jodi and Kristen. Not that I don’t have wonderful friends here that I love beyond belief but those who are so far away are missed terribly.

The weekend ended with a little time to read a good book and snuggle Tessie who loves the new tree. I’m hopeful she won’t eat the plastic one in my bedroom any longer now that she has a real one.

Now I’m here at work. It’s frigid outside and I’m counting the days until celebrating the birth of Jesus (9). It will be wonderful to be with my family for 6 days. I’m missing those best friends as well.

This will likely be it until after the holiday for me so I’m wishing you a Merry Christmas. I pray you will feel the warmth of Jesus’ love and the joy of God’s gift as we celebrate the most wonderful Christmas gift of all – the birth of Jesus. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas!!

I’m not sure exactly why but I can almost feel the Christmas spirit in the air this year. Last year at this time I was not in a good place. I was dealing with some really emotional cases at work and some extremely tough stuff in my personal life. I sort of watched Christmas go by from a black hole.

This year I feel like Christmas is oozing out of my pores. I find myself singing Christmas Carols at the top of my lungs in the shower and whistling them throughout the office. I’ve enjoyed my Christmas shopping immensely and haven’t overdone things this year. I feel like I’ve been doing just enough. I’m excited beyond belief for the day to come but at the same time I am enjoying the build up so much I can hardly contain myself.

They are calling for accumulating snow in Seattle this weekend, Erin just got here for a two week visit and we are cutting down a tree (hopefully in the snow) on Sunday. I’m bouncing in my chair just thinking about it. Good thing Adrienne isn’t here yet or I might have just had to call in sick to work for two weeks.

I realized this week that I’m not the only one who is feeling this way. I live close to a major substation for our electric company. I know, not very pretty but it is what it is. Anyway, I was driving by the building on Monday night and noticed a particularly shabby looking tree near the front door. Draped around the tree was a string of Christmas lights. The whole visual was very Charlie Brown’s Christmas and I couldn’t stop grinning. It seems that perhaps the “hard times” this country is battling through has brought out the Christmas spirit in all of us.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Catching Up

It seems I have some catching up to do. I didn’t realize I had been so busy lately. I’ve had a number of entries floating around but no time to put thought on paper. SO, here is my attempt to catch up. It’s going to be random and all over the place; hold on to your hats.

First of all: I’m officially in my 30s. Scary. I went to my parent’s place for my birthday which happened to fall on a Saturday this year. It was nice to be home since I hadn’t been there since June. I guess I haven’t been a very attentive daughter lately. We had a low key weekend and I got lots of love from my niece, nephew and the rest of my family. I’m lucky to have such an awesome one. I also have wonderful friends who threw me a party at Bucca de Bepo the following Friday. It’s always so wonderful to get together and share a meal with the people in your life you care the most about. Thanks guys for spending a Friday night celebrating!

Second: On November 16th Kirstin, Kim, Laura Belle and I participated in the Winter Pineapple Classic. It is a 5k obstacle course that you compete in as a team of two or four. We had a great time and Sam documented team “Good Dirty Fun” as we climbed over walls, through tubes and over hay bales. Kirstin put together a great collage on her blog. Take a peak.

Third: Thanksgiving – This year there has been a lot of doom and gloom over the state of the world. I think it sort of started to get to me around election time so as Thanksgiving rolled around I found myself wondering what I deep down was thankful for. I was talking to a client the day or so before Thanksgiving. He’s a client that I really like, around my age, pretty personable and we were just chatting a little before getting down to business for the day. I can’t remember specifically what his question to me was, whether it was how are you or something else along those lines but I started to sort of complain about something. About halfway through my sentence though I stopped myself. I said to him “You know J. I’m sitting in a warm office at a job that I am ok with, drinking a hot cup of coffee and having a good conversation so I guess I would say I am doing really well” or something to that effect. The conversation moved on from there and I didn’t think too much of it until the next day or so when I reflected again about what exactly I was thankful for in 2008. Of course, I’m thankful for my family and friends which I am always thankful for. I’m thankful for the country I live in where I can practice religion as I choose and of course that I have a God who loves me even when I screw up. I guess though mostly in 2008 I am thankful for the small things. I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful I have a house that I’m comfortable in and can afford to heat. I’m thankful I have a cat that is nuts but who is like my second shadow and while I’m not ALWAYS happy at it, I’m thankful that I have a job that is challenging and at times rewarding. I’m thankful for my hot cup of coffee (or two) every morning. That’s an awful lot to be thankful for.

Finally: Worries – I was reminded yet again this week how much God provides for us. I worry about money a lot and it’s something I really should do a better job of letting go of. For some reason money to me is security. Instead, it should be God who is my security. I’m workin’ on it. The end of the year is always a little tighter for me because if I haven’t stuck to my budget closely my bonus money is all but gone. This Christmas I was determined to not have to use my credit cards to buy Christmas gifts. This meant being extremely careful in not only what I spend on Christmas gifts but also what I spend on everyday stuff. Well, payday comes next Monday and I looked at my bank account and realized I was going to be a little short –$30 short to be exact. I didn’t want to tap into my savings and I didn’t want to use my credit card so I was worried about what to do. I started to stress about it which seems stupid but I did – like I said, it is an area I'm working on. Well, yesterday I received a reimbursement check from my work for – you guessed it - $30. My dad is always telling me if we continue to be faithful to God in our giving he will be faithful to us in supporting us when we need it. I do not look at that $30 check as a random coincidence. That check to me was God reaching out and saying – Kristin, I’ve got you. He didn’t over provide for me, he gave me exactly what I needed and that is what he does right? He provides exactly what we need exactly when we need it. How lucky are we to have a God who loves us so much that he takes care of $30 when we need it.

Huh, another thing to be Thankful for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How I feel today

After work being too crazy for about six weeks things have really calmed down around here and I am back to being a bit too unoccupied. This gives me too much time to think. Then this song comes on and the day is done for me. I'm not in a funk but I am totally in reflection mode.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Not a good day

Yesterday was not a good day for me as an American. I heard someone on the radio say this morning that they felt like yesterday was Christmas. I felt like yesterday was a slap in the face. I know many of you probably won’t agree with my politics here but this is how I feel so either bear with me – I’ll be bearing with your decision for the next four years and beyond – or stop reading and come back next time. I promise to write another entry shortly – I already have one brewing.

1) President: I have never hidden the fact that I am a conservative. Now, did I think McCain was the best candidate or the best person I could hope for to be the next in office, no. Did I think he was a better person for office than Obama, yes. Let me explain why. In large part it is financial. OK so there are some human rights issues too and environmental and foreign strength and health care policy and well, the list goes on but for ease of expression I am going to keep this to my financial/economic concerns.

I’m terrified of what his Presidency is going to do to my paycheck. First of all, I understand people go through hard times and sometimes need a hand up. What I am sick and tired of and something I see Obama strengthening is the “hand out”. I get furious when people do not take personal accountability and frankly I am almost as furious about the people who don’t expect it. If you are going to take my tax dollars that I have worked beyond hard for and give them to someone who simply hasn’t done what they need to do to move into a better place then that isn’t right. I’m not the smartest person you will come across in your life but I have worked my butt off to get to the place I am today. And I don’t even make that much money compared to what I am paying to have gotten here and will continue to pay for the next 25 years of my life.

I don’t care what Obama has said in the past 70 years of campaigning, my paycheck will be effected by him being president and having the economic policies which he does. Here’s why: I am a single person with no real tax breaks other than my house which puts me into a fairly high tax bracket. HOWEVER, if you look at what is coming in as income and what is going out to handle debt I am not upper class in fact I barely can be considered middle class. So, I fully expect to begin to pay more of the hand outs to people who haven’t done what they should do to get out of the various positions they are in (sorry if this sounds unsympathetic – frankly I am) which will then make things more difficult for me, causing me to carry their slack. This, I am not ok with.

The second reason I have no doubt I will see an effect in my income level is that I work in a small company (only eleven and one-half employees, no she isn’t half a person, she works part time) that makes over $250,000. I’m sorry but I don’t believe for one fraction of a second that 90% of small business in America make less than that. That’s stupid and anyone who believed that clearly knows nothing of small business. I generally get a pay raise at the end of the year. I would bet all of next year’s paycheck that this December 31st I will get the bonus I have earned through my revenue in 2008 but I will not receive a pay raise, or will receive an insignificant one.

Thanks Obama. Now not only do I have to pay you as the federal government more to give to people who haven’t worked as hard as I have all my life but I also get LESS money to do it with. Awesome.

Oh and just so all of you know - I give from my paycheck in many ways so it isn't like I don't already do a large part to help those who need the help. I would bet the percentage of my paycheck that goes to charitable giving is comparable to most of you reading this. I just want to get that out there, not to brag, but to make clear that I support giving assistance to those in need as God has commanded us to but I would appreciate being able to control where that goes. Now I'm going to have to cut back in areas I feel passionate about giving to because the government is going to reach deeper into my pocket and far more often.

2) Proposition 1000 (Physician Assisted Suicide) – I felt almost more passionate about this proposition than perhaps I did about the presidency. For the record – Webster’s defines suicide as:

The act of taking one's own life voluntary and intentionally; self-murder; the deliberate and intentional destruction of one's own life by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind.
- so yes, this IS suicide no matter if you call it “death with dignity” or not. It is WRONG to allow people to commit suicide rather than put their family through what they see as the hardship of their illness. It is just plain wrong. It is WRONG to make doctors lie on death certificates. It is just plain wrong. It is WRONG to not value human life. It is just plain wrong. Below is a letter to the editor my friend Molly wrote about Proposition 1000. She says it better than I ever could so I’m going to just leave it at that.

Let them keep their dignity

My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer more than a year ago. When he wasn't improving, the doctor gave him horrifying news that he would die within three months. The hospital informed us that hospice would take over his care. Two nurses visited regularly at home.

Nurse Mickey treated my dad with compassion. If my dad experienced any pain, they took care of it. God blessed our family with my dad's presence for two months. During this time, each of us had a chance to say goodbye. Family members came and shared how my father made a difference. Childhood friends shared how they valued my dad's life-changing friendship.

It was hard to see my dad fade a little each day. Every moment was a precious gift from God. On Oct. 1, my father, Michael, died at 66. I will always remember my dad's never-ending faith in God and others. The hospice care gave my dad a chance to die with dignity. Initiative 1000 takes that dignity away. When we start playing God, we lose the value of human life.

-- Molly Feeney, Sammamish

3) Washington State Governor – I really wanted Dino to win this time. I got to meet him a few months ago and was VERY impressed by his ideas he had for the state and for getting us back on track financially. Now we are stuck with more of the same and the poor schmuck who comes into office next is going to have a terrible economic mess to dig themselves out of. Plus nothing is going to change about traffic and we are going to continue to see taxes rise.

Dear Lord, please don’t let the moronic voters of this state support an income tax. Amen.

PS - the only positive to come out of yesterday (well other than Norm Coleman beating Al Frankin in MN) is that I recieved five votes for Supreme Court Justice. All without doing ANY campaigning. Maybe there is something to this.....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Keller/Prentice September 27, 2008 – Kona, Hawaii

What happens in Vegas sometimes leaves Vegas

I’ve been a bit remiss in blogging lately mostly because I went on vacation for a week and came back to a bees nest at work. I have my head mostly above water now so I can catch up on the rest of my life – including the sleep I lost the three weeks after my vacation.

My parents and I spent at week on The Big Island for vacation and to celebrate the marriage of my lifelong best friend, Erin Prentice, to some guy named Daniel Keller. OK OK so he is great, I ADORE him and he really is already part of the family but I still have to be my normal protective self. That doesn’t go away.

The first three days I told myself were strictly vacation. I did very little wedding stuff but instead enjoyed being in Hawaii. On Monday we went on a kayaking trip where we snorkeled and jumped off a 30 foot cliff.

Tuesday was spent seeing a bit more of the island via helicopter – with no doors thank you.

Me and Crazy George – our pilot

We went over the volcano and got to see amazing views of the flowing lava. It was amazingly beautiful. I asked our pilot if there is any type of state or federal assistance if your house is taken out by the lava flow on the Big Island. He informed me that there is not, and in fact, you can’t even buy Volcano insurance. This is why there are many homes built on the lava plains. The people own that land and just because their houses were burned to a crisp one time it doesn’t mean they don’t still own the land so they rebuild. It’s crazy.

We also went into the Thurston Lava Tube which wasn't as great as Ape Caves but was still pretty interesting and we went to the top of the volcanoe where you can see steam coming out of the crater. It's sort of like being in Land of the Lost - only without the Dinasours.

We also went to an incredible dinner at Mauni Lana which was to celebrate my mom and Erin’s dad’s great years with their company. I’m glad I got to tag along.

On Wednesday I slept in the hammock on the beach for as long as Daniel’s dad would let me.
Then Erin, Daniel, Joey and Tiffany (the pastor and his wife – all the way from England and some of my favorite people I have ever met) and I went shopping in Kahulia-Kona. It was fun to get to see all the amazing local fruit in the farmer’s market. We definitely took advantage of that later in the week as you shall see. Emily (another bridesmaid) flew in from Boston that evening and in my mind the wedding officially began.

On Thursday Emily, Erin, Juli and I went to the Hilton and swam with the dolphins. It was a very neat experience to get to be that up close and personal with such neat animals and the Hilton was GORGEOUS. We took advantage of being there and used the pool for a few hours before heading back for our nail appointments.

After that, my mom, dad and I went to a luau. I ran into Jamie, a friend from college who I hadn’t seen since 2000 and we enjoyed a very intimate luau. It was a lot of fun to have so much time with my parents. It isn’t very often we get a chance to vacation with our parents as adults. I have no idea if that will happen again so I enjoyed every moment.

On Friday the wedding got into full swing. We started decorating for the rehearsal dinner which was in front of the “cottage” and the tent went up in front of the big house. Erin, Emily, Kathy and I went to the farmers market and bought all kinds of flowers for the center pieces and the wedding site. Juli did an amazing job with decorating. I was very glad there were people like her around because I’m useless where that is concerned.

The rehearsal was relaxed and fun and there was a live band and BBQ for the rehearsal dinner. It was a true precursor to the fun that was ahead.

On Saturday morning Emily, Erin and I got up and picked up Mira (the other bridesmaid) from the house where she was staying and then went back to the big house to have a breakfast of tropical fruit and mimosas. The fruit was a lot of fun because much of it none of us had ever tried before. People were buzzing around the house constantly getting things ready and the wedding site looked absolutely beautiful by the time we left to get our hair done.

The ladies at the salon were great. They took apart their potted flower to have flowers to put in our hair and we laughed and enjoyed the time of just sitting and getting ready for the evening.

Saturday night brought the wedding. Erin was of course beautiful and Daniel was thrilled. I don’t think he left her side for more than about two seconds the whole night. We all had a blast and danced until the rules required the DJ to shut down. At one point I looked across the lawn and my mom was dancing to Flo Rida “Low”. I almost wet my pants laughing.

It was a great time and I really couldn’t ask for a better husband for Erin. There haven’t been many men in her life that I approved of so for Daniel to make the grade is saying something. I wish them the best and know God is going to bless their lives together as husband and wife. I’m looking forward to watching them grow as a couple and learn what it is like to be married.

And to think – it all started in Vegas.