Thursday, December 18, 2008

...But The (First) Fire Is So Delightful

Last Sunday, it was freezing. Check that. It was BELOW freezing. To warm up, we lit our first fire of the winter season. Shawn claims he's a freeze bunny. However, I declare shenanigans. As evidence below, Norman, he's a freeze puppy. He was so close I'm certain he singed a whisker or two.

Here he actually had his head laying on the hearth. Every time the fire crackled, he jumped and woke up. Then just as quickly, he relaxed and assumed the same position.

Sunday, snow, stockings, football and Norman next to the fire. Not too shabby.

Chez DeBoer Holiday Decor

The finished, decorated DeBoer Family Christmas Tree. Looks strikingly similar to last years (see December 2007 post). Consistency, consistency, consistency.
The stockings hung on the chimney with care... and snow.

The table centerpiece. Cranberrilicously red.

The buffet and shelves with yet some more snow. We also used to have Christmas cards displayed on here until we figure out that Norman jumps up during the day, grabs the lovely treasures and shreds them. Scrooge much. Ironically he has left the basset hound card that we got from Grandma Santee alone. He knows.

The top of the TV. It looks a bit bare with the wall still empty behind it, but I think it correlates nice. It's amazing and cheap to decorate when you use what you have and fill in the holes with candy! Our treats of choice, wintergreen mints and Hershey's kisses - original, caramel and mint!

More decor. This is a nice collection of tins and yet, more candy. Norman could reach this as well and last Saturday as I was WALKING to the grocery store, Norman was enjoying a little chocolate and a few foil wrappers.

The DeBoer Family Christmas Tree - The Sequel

Recently, Shawn and I National Lampooned us another Christmas Tree. Due to the untimely death of the Jimmy (RIP), we were planning on doing it Beretta style this year. However, our neighbors were out of town and offered to let us use their Volkswagon wagon with a roof rack on top. That's right, we National Lampooned us a tree, in a station wagon, Griswold style. It was quite the debacle getting the car out of the neighbors garage so I'll save that for another post. Anyway, I drove us (it is a manual) to Hampton Hills Tree Farm in Hampton, MN, also the birth place of the great Normster. We were a little more prepared this year and a little better dressed but it was the same weather situation; cold, windy and snowing. After an exhausting search, we found it. This year, I got to operate the saw *fist to chest bumping*. Also this year, we had it shook and wrapped, for free, to make the journey home easier. I didn't get a picture of the famed tree on the car, but I did get a few of the adventure.

On the hunt... weapon in hand.

Next year, snow pants may be in order. Snow sokes through sweat pants.

The kill!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In The Name of Comfort

Two additions will make your future visits to the DeBoers more comfortable. The first: a new couch, aka sofa, aka davenport, aka whatever. As you can see below, it's leather. Nice, soft, (buffet) brown leather. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Neighbor Sara for letting us borrow her vehicle to bring this baby home and for letting me relive the "joys" of driving a five-speed. I'd also like to personally thank her for helping Shawn get it in the house and get the old one downstairs. She puts my strength to shame.

The second: a new bathroom fan. A beautiful, white, quiet bathroom fan. With the humidity down in the bathroom, I intend to wash the currently streaked walls, add a moisture/mildew preventative sealer/primer and repaint. Don't worry, it won't be gecko green but it'll be darn close! We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Neighbor Ole for installing the amazing fixture and Neighbor Shaina for not telling me that Ole was actually nervous about cutting a whole in our roof prior to installing the venting. I like to see projects after the fact when things are in working order and I can be totally oblivious to anything that may have happened along the way.

Chiefs vs Bills vs DeBoers

Sunday, November 23rd, Shawn, Brad, Charity and I visited Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City for the Chiefs (Shawn's team) versus the Bills (Brad's team) game. Shawn and I had been to Arrowhead twice before but this visit was bitter-sweet. Bitter because the Chiefs suck, sweet because these were the best seats we've ever had. We were eighth and ninth row of the end zone. Primo view. Primo view for a slaughtering. Brad enjoyed himself though, watching the Bills destroy the Chiefs. Sadly, most fans left after halftime. When the seats cleared, we were swarmed with crazy Buffalo fans, those of which included Shawn, who secretly cheered for them as well in hopes of a future draft pick. [Editor's note: the Chiefs have since won another game (for 2 total now) and Detroit has not, so it looks like even that goal may be out of reach this season.] Interestingly enough, the Bills just lost to none other then the San Fransisco 49ers. Boo-yah!

Here's our view at kickoff. The Chiefs getting ready to score. I believe this was a pass to the amazing Tony Gonzalez. The only amazing Chief left.
For the record books, a photo of the final score, 54 to 31, Chiefs go down.
The DeBoers. You'll notice I'm dawning Chief gear. I figure when in Rome. I'm still a 49ers fan even though they suck too.

If Only It Hadn't Been a Myth

On Wednesday, November 19th, Shawn and I attended (yes) another concert. This time it was of Jason Mraz with special guest Lisa Hannigan. Jason Mraz was amazing, the venue, The Myth, was not.

We arrived at the "club" at 6pm and waited outside, in line, enjoying some Wendys. An hour later, after we were officially frozen, we were let inside. Neighbor Sara picked the perfect spot; up on one of the walkway ramps with a railing in front of it. We were high enough and close enough, but we didn't have to be amongst the crowd on the floor.

An hour later, after we were officially annoyed by the high school text messages that you could post on the big screen, the opening act appeared. I'm sure she did a fine job, however, you couldn't hear her. With the people and the talking and the atmosphere, she was drowned out by her surroundings.

An hour later, after we were officially sick of standing, Jason Mraz appeared. We're on our third hour now. To our surprise, the talking and noise of the venue continued through his performance! So, although he did an amazing job, every time it was just music or there was a lull in the vocals, all you could hear were people talking! Seriously. It goes without saying, we will not be going back to The Myth. Ever again.

Jason Mraz is so musically talented it would be amazing to see him somewhere else, somewhere like the O'Shaugnessy. On a brighter note, he had moments of musical perfection; mimicking the saxophone, interacting with the audience, and had a whole slew of a band including a brass trio and some bongos. Most songs were from his new album and it all had a very retro-Caribbean-bluesy feel... perfect had it been a more intimate venue. Alright, I'm over it. Below are some photos of the highlight moments.

Our view of Mister Mraz. Another annoyance to point out, sorry - just though of it, the place was impossible to take photos. They had large screens behind him and a different background and light show for each song so it was impossible to take a sharp picture. Flash, no flash, inside, nighttime... nothing worked. The photo below is sans flash.
One of the better moments was during "Live High." President-Elect Obama was posted on the background screen. A monstrous roar from the crowd followed and Team DeBoer smiled.
The best photo, Jason Mraz, going solo with his gee-tar.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee

Last night, Monday the 10th, the husband and I went to a concert at the O'Shaugnessy on St. Kate's campus. Amos Lee was performing with special guest Priscilla Ahn. We started out with supper, yes supper, not dinner (I'm from Iowa) at Wild Onion. Afterwards, we headed to the auditorium. The concert lasted about two and a half hours. Priscilla was on for about 30 minutes and Amos was on for the rest. They were both a-mazing! I especially enjoyed Amos when it was just him and his guitar. Below are the pictures I caught amongst the dark.

Priscilla Ahn playing the last song of her opening performance.
Amos, singing serious with his band. Definitely humble, hometown people. Like Shawn said, they're the type of people you'd see on the street and not know they're famous, talented musicians.
Amos (second from the left) invited Priscilla (far right) on stage for a song together. The blend was wonderful!
Bless the super, super zoom on my camera. Caught Amos mid lyric looking poetic and plain all at the same time. Can't remember which song he was singing but since they're all fantastic, we'll just say this particular performance was my favorite. Loved the hat and spectacles!

As a souvenir scene to the night, Amos Lee came back out for autographs. I purchased his newest CD (Can't remember how long it's been since I bought an actual CD!), stood in line, pondered what to say, got to the front of the line and fell silent. Finally... I asked if he'd sign the cover of the CD, told him the concert was great and he did an awesome job, shook his hand and then thanked him for my first autograph, ever! He smiled and said thanks. He was very appreciative to the crowd all night long, did a request from the crowd (a dixieland jazzy version of Queens "Fat Bottomed Girls"), included city landmarks in a song he was improving and told stories about the songs he sang. Well done Mr. Lee.

Me, Taking a Picture of Me

So like ten years ago in high school, we had an art project in which we had to find a picture of ourselves when we were young and draw it. I'm not too shabby at drawing so I decided to have mine mounted, matted and framed at Michaels. Say that three times fast. It was their wonderful 50% off sale so the damage wasn't fatal. I think it turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself and it hangs in Norman's room next to the computer. That whole room kinda has a black-and-white thing going on so it fit in perfectly.

Damn Squirrels

As promised, below is a photo-journalistic representation of the DeBoers carving pumpkins.

Here is Shawn, digging and scraping out the guts of pumpkin number three. As you'll notice, we opened them up from the bottom this year. We heard it was better from something we were watching on TV. I don't remember the show or what they said was the reason so you'll just have to take my word for it.

After cleaning comes cutting, but before that we need to trace our pattern. Below is the one I chose from the kit we bought a couple years ago. The picture is post-punching.

After cutting out the pieces and anally cleaning up the carving (OCD style), voila, a masterpiece of a pumpkin.

Now take note. This is the first year we encountered the battle with the squirrels. The overpopulated beasts started eating parts of our pumpkins! They weren't even shy about it. They sat on the steps, put piece in hand (claw?) and slowly chewed and devoured our creations. The only good thing I can report is at least they waited until Halloween night. Some of our neighbors were not as lucky. But next year, we'll have to try coating them with something not so tasteful... suggestions welcome. Below is what was left of my pumpkin. People kept asking what is was supposed to be... how disheartening. But, on the bright side, it kind of looks like the person holding the mirror is flipping everyone off. Maybe not everyone, but definitely the squirrels!
Here is Norman's pumpkin that neighbor Woodruffs so kindly volunteered to carve out. Their style was unconventional (staples, scissors, pushpins, etc.) and they may not be back next year, but they did a fine job.
Finally, all the trick-or-treaters favorite: Shawn's pumpkin. Ironically, this is also the ONLY pumpkin that the squirrels left alone. Creature karma? Do squirrels fear raccoons? Something to ponder... if you're seriously that bored.

One other very important thing we learned. If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, fill your bathtub with cold water and dunk them in it for about two hours. It's like magic. They come back to life, exactly as they looked when you were done carving. Little tip from the DeBoers to you.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Amen Mr. DeBoer for Practicing What You Preach!

Shawn participated in and finished his second 5K run! This one was the Race for a Safe Place in Stillwater, MN. He, along with his fellow coach and nine students, ran the rather chilly race yesterday morning. Having kicked most of whatever kind of cold he had, he was feeling better and felt fairly confident in beating his previous time of 24 minutes and some odd seconds. As evidence below, he came in way ahead of that. 22 minutes and 25 seconds and 9th place overall! That's just over a consistent 7 minute mile for over three miles. He's definitely owning up to all that hot air he spouts about eating right and exercising! However, upon completing the race, coughing, light-headedness and potential sickness ensued and he had to walk around the school for a while until he felt better. We'll see if I can get him to a doctor this week because his coughing has kicked it up a notch and it's time for him to be better!

There were about 80 participants and in keeping with the results of last week, the team from ABS did great! Senior Wilson won the race, and one boy and one girl each won their age group and received gift certificates to a spa! If I'd known what the prize was going to be, I...

How Could I Forget?

When posting about our recent trip to Wisconsin, I forgot to mention a couple other great finds!

First is a sign I found at The Cannery that reads: "Don't Make Me Get My Flying Monkeys." Now if you don't know what that means, tell no one. Instead, head to your local Target or Wal-Mart and purchase and watch The Wizard of Oz immediately. Report back to me what you thought so I can ridicule you for having waited this long to see such a classic film! I'm thinking the sign will hang in the kitchen or dining room, but I'm not sure. Mom did end up buying the exact same sign but to be fair, I saw and (technically) bought it first!

The other great find were some pumpkins! Not just any pumpkins, $1 pumpkins. That's right, one dollar, 100 pennies, four quarters, you get the idea. You can't find pumpkins around here for $1! Naturally, we bought three. One for each member of Team DeBoer's household. We have yet to carve them but have that slotted on the calendar for next weekend so stay tuned for the results of that adventure!

Teacher Grading of a Different Kind

While off from school for a few days, Shawn finished up his grading... grading around our house that is. He's been steadily adding dirt, which he bought off of craigslist, to all sides of our house at a sufficient slope. This will help water to drain away from the house and hopefully prevent any of it from reaching the basement. This was a recommendation by our inspector when we bought the house... a year and a half ago.

Wheel barrow by wheel barrow Shawn shoveled, distributing, unloaded, packed, shaped, watered, smoothed and packed some more, all the dirt he could until it was at a satisfactory angle against the house. On the east side and in the backyard, with help from neighbor Sara, he placed and secured a layer of black edging. He also inserted window wells around all the basement windows and placed a layer of river rock in them from neighbor Ole. Next, he laid a layer of newspapers over the dirt and finally, topped it all off with new mulch from Home Depot. 42 bags to be exact. The leftover dirt was distributed around the backyard into some of our nice holes and all the exposed dirt was sprinkled with grass seed and watered as generously as possible.

It was definitely a process and he was sure to vocalize his efforts to me as it was a lot of work for one person to do. As a thank you, I thought I'd display his marvelous work for everyone to see. It couldn't have turned out better and I'm forever grateful he took it upon himself to get it done while I was at work. I'm not so sure I would have been as ambitious with my time off of work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We heart NYC

I will try and remember to post some New York photos on here from our trip in August, but if I forget, try the link(s) below to see if you can view our album on Facebook.

Seasonal Decor

Anyone who has been to our house knows I love, LOVE fall colors! One foot in our living room reveals that. So, it's no surprise I love, LOVE decorating for fall! Nothing extravagant, just simple additions that stay in the budget.

Below is the current centerpiece on our table. It's our usual wood bowl with coffee beans and tea lights on a colorful place mat, just spiced up a little. The tea lights are in little pumpkins and the whole arrangement is adorned with fallen leaves. Schnazzy ey?

Here's my favorite addition, the buffet, decorated with all things autumn; more candles surrounded by coffee beans, some leafy arrangements around a scarecrow in a vase from our wedding, a cute basket find at Target and some more leaves.

A close up reveals some pilgrimesque creatures that rest on our dusty shelves.

Below is our end table (notice Shawn's elbow). Yet another candle with coffee beans (and to think, we don't even drink coffee - that's Dr. Pepper in the mug), as well as a candle stand supporting another Target find, the candle; all topped off with a few more leaves.

This is the top of our entertainment center. It used to house a beautiful flower arrangement (see below) but that has since passed. It now houses a wooden pumpkin full of remotes, some glass vases from our wedding full of essential candy corn (Have you tried the new caramel candy corn?!) and it all rests on more leaves. You may notice there are some very small styrofoam pumpkins, squash and such. These used to be all over the buffet and end table as well until Norman figured out that they were not stuck to the surface and could be eaten. Terd.

Here are the amazing flowers I mentioned above. I also found them at Target and bought the lovely bouquet for myself. I had been working insane amounts of overtime and felt entitled to some colorful beauty. If only fresh flowers lasted longer!

DeBoer Men

Both Shawn and Norman have been keeping themselves entertained. Since Shawn is done with his second BA (woohoo!), he's taken up fishing again! A couple weeks ago he ventured out with our neighbor and his boat and caught quite a few sunfish. After a tutorial in filleting fish, Shawn was eager to try it on his own. On our obligatory trip to Wisconsin (see post below), he purchased a fillet knife from Cabelas and last Saturday, got to put it to use. Below is a picture of the bass he caught up the road at Lake Josephine and his knife (pre-filleting). The bass, along with a sunfish, fell victim to his trial run and I must say, he did a fine job. "We" battered, fried it up and ate it that night at the neighbors. Mighty tasty (for someone who doesn't really prefer fish).

Shawn and a fellow teacher recently started a running club at school. They've been running and training every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for the last four weeks and last Saturday, they all ran their first 5K! Shawn, Senior Wilson and 10 students completed the course in North St. Paul, MN. It needs to be disclosed that Shawn had been suffering from a very rough cold the week prior to the run and most likely had a case of bronchitis, pneumonia, laryngitis, strep throat or SOMETHING serious enough to warrant rest. That being said, I politely but firmly instructed him to walk the race. As you can see below, he did no such walking. He completed his first 5K in about 24 minutes and was pretty excited he didn't start coughing until the end. Crazy stubbornness. The rest of his teammates did amazing as well. Senior Wilson came in first, one of his students came in 7th and finished first in his age group for boys and one of his other students finished first in her age group for girls. Pretty impressive since there were over 200 participants. Not a bad first showing for ABS!

Norman has been doing what he does best. Resting. When he's bored he plays with his food, barks, whines, claws at the door, plays with his toys and barks some more. What's so extraordinary about the picture below is the location in which he's laying. He's on his pillow, on the FLOOR. He's not on either sofa! The afternoon prior to this picture, we took him for a walk around Como Lake. At the end, we walked him out on the dock so he could take a drink. Being a wee bit top-heavy, he stretched too far over and fell in! Mind you Norman's never been fully submerged in any water, ever. Needless to say, he did not enjoy it. He went completely under, then his head slowly came up while his butt stayed down. He looked to do a little paddling with his front paws but not sure about the back paws since we couldn't see them. Shawn had to pull him to safety without using his leash or collar because we had his choke collar on. It was quite a spectacle! Immediately out he coughed, shook, sneezed and shook some more. I wish I had brought my camera for that because it was priceless. It's safe to assume he'll be sticking to dry land and comfy pillows, even if they're on the floor.

Trips, Obligatory and Otherwise

In keeping with tradition, last weekend Team DeBoer traveled the four hour trip to Gays Mills, WI with Mom, Mike, Grandpa and Grandma Santee. We got apple goods and cheese. The men got to inhabit Cabelas while the women explored The Cannery. Below is a picture of my Cannery find this year, a mug stand, which now lives on our kitchen counter top. Pretty exciting stuff ey? Below that is a picture of us in front of the infamous sign. Unfortunately we were a little early as far as fall colors go, but it was still a nice trip and good to see family.

This year we spent Labor Day weekend with Mom and Mike camping, fishing, eating and otherwise relaxing near Wabasha, MN. It was pretty serene. Since I'm not one for being on a boat, Mom, Mike and Shawn did all the fishing. I'm also not one for sleeping outside, on the ground, with insects and unidentifiable noises, but I got a few hours. My cynicism aside, it was nice and relaxing and I got some photos taken and some pages read. Below are a couple shots off the sandbar we camped on.


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