December 18, 2010

looking for a chick flick?

I am the queen of chick flicks. I absolutely love them, and I'll watch just about any chick flick set in front of me--even those incredibly cheesy Hallmark movies! It's gotten harder to recommend chick flicks in recent years, though ... gone are the days of the first kiss coming at the end of the movie (a la While You Were Sleeping). Instead, it usually goes something like this: Boy meets girl, boy sleeps with girl, massive misunderstanding splits up boy and girl, boy and girl reunite. So I was pleasantly surprised by the movie I watched tonight, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. Not only is there no hint of a sexual relationship between the main characters, but there's also no swearing! It's rated PG and stars Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss and Charmed), Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty and Covert Affairs), and Michael Landes (I'll always remember him as the original Jimmy Olsen on Lois & Clark). Unfortunately, it's not yet available on dvd, but you can get it on demand from Amazon or iTunes. If it was on dvd, it would totally be on my Christmas wish list!

Here's the review I wrote for Amazon:
"My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" is just what a romantic comedy should be: cute, romantic, and funny. It's also incredibly clean. The writer/director didn't rely on any gross-out or sex humor; instead, the story was filled with genuinely funny moments. Especially watch for the gum commercial--I laughed out loud repeatedly (and am chuckling again as I think about it)! This isn't your predictable chick flick; sure, you can probably guess who will end up together, but the route the movie took from point A to point B wasn't at all what I expected. I'm always on the lookout for movies I can recommend without reservation, and this is definitely one. Highly recommended!


***Update 11-6-11: You can watch this for free on Hulu. It's also streaming on Netflix and on Amazon(Prime members can watch it free). And there's a DVD, which I bought for $10 at Walmart. Amazon has it for $12.60.***

December 6, 2010

k max is the only one left

It's official: I've now seen 2/3 of dc Talk.

On Wednesday I got a text from one of my friends asking if I wanted to go to the Newsboys concert. Sounds great, right? Well, the catch is that the concert was Thursday in a town nearly two hours away. Here was the deciding factor for me: Michael Tait, formerly of dc Talk, is now the Newsboys' lead singer. Sold.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I would pay big money to see dc Talk live. And while I've heard a few rumors, I don't think there are any real plans for a reunion tour. So until then, I'll have to content myself with whichever band member comes this way.

So, immediately after work on Thursday, Justin, Adair, and I piled into Adair's car and headed for Norfolk. It was totally worth it.

The show was actually Newsong's Christmas tour, which featured the Newsboys and Kerrie Roberts, a singer I'd never heard of before. It also featured a surprise performer, but I'll get to that later.

They started off with several Christmas songs. Honestly, I was more fascinated (or appalled) by the giant blow-up Santa and penguin on stage than I was by the songs. 

My least favorite number was "Little Drummer Boy," which too loud and cacophonous. All the groups were involved in the song, and it was just too much happening at once. (Perhaps the reason I hated it so much has to do with the fact that the Jars of Clay version, which is much more understated, is one of my favorite Christmas songs!) But then I saw him ... playing the violin (I couldn't hear him playing the violin because everything else was too loud) ... and I thought, Could it be? Is it he?

Sure enough--David Klinkenberg! When the guy from Newsong came out and introduced him, I think I may have stopped breathing. I grinned like a ninny through his whole song ("Toss the Feathers"). When he finished, a bunch of women stood up and cheered. Adair said, "Look at all his girl fans." And I thought, If I didn't have you on one side and Justin on the other, I'd totally be up cheering with them!

(And here's the point where I need to explain about Klinkenberg. I was just going to link to my other blogs about him, but they're on MySpace. In an attempt to get at them for you, I had to reset my MySpace password--it's been so long since I've been on that I couldn't even remember what it was! I guess that speaks to MySpace's irrelevancy in the age of Facebook. Anyway, I finally found the posts, but I can't figure out how to change my settings to make the blog public. If you happen to be MySpace friends with me, the posts are here and here. Basically, David Klinkenberg is my music crush. An excerpt from the blog:
In the evening we (Melissa and I) went to Norfolk for the Mark Schultz/Big Daddy Weave/David Klinkenberg concert. Two more Bible study people, Kevin and Melissa, joined us for the concert. It was amazing! I was a tad disappointed with how little David played (after all, he was the one I really wanted to see!), but overall, I can't complain. Mark Schultz is much less annoying in person than he is on the radio (sometimes, his slower songs just make me want to hurl), and parts of the concert were really like a worship service. It was wonderful.
We waited in the auditorium for about 10 minutes while people cleared out, then we headed to the vending area. Molly bought two of David's cd's, and she had just rejoined us right by the auditorium doors when she tapped me, looked off to her right, and said, "Should I ask for his autograph?" I followed her gaze . . . to David Kinkenberg, who was standing about 5 feet away! At this point, my brain pretty much turned to mush. I whirled back around to find Melissa. "Look behind you!" I hissed. She turned around and saw nothing special. "No, I mean look behind me!" Then he started walking toward us! It became obvious he was going to keep going, so Molly stopped him and asked if he would sign her cd. He said he would be back in a minute and walked away. I still couldn't even think. A little later, he came back to sign the cd. Then he thanked us for coming and walked away. Melissa said the whole time she was thinking, "Becky, SAY SOMETHING!" But I couldn't. It wasn't until we were back in the parking lot that it hit me--CAMERA! I'd had at least 3 minutes to get my camera out and then get a picture with him . . . and it never once crossed my mind! What's wrong with me???
I have to admit, he looks very young up close. Kevin said he looked 12, but it's not quite that bad . . . maybe 18 or 20. I'm not sure how old he really is, but I think he must be older than that. Anyway, it appears that my celeb crush is still intact . . .)
I briefly thought about trying to get a picture this time. Then I realized I didn't have my camera. Then I realized I had my phone, which has a camera. Then I realized I didn't want to act like a crazed fangirl when my only companions were boys. Had Melissa been there, though, she totally would have given me the courage!

As for the rest of the concert, I really enjoyed the Newsboys ... especially when they weren't doing Christmas music! They played "Something Beautiful" and "He Reigns" from previous albums and "Way Beyond Myself" and "Born Again" from the new album (which you know I love!). "He Reigns" wasn't that great. I wouldn't have believed you if you'd told me, since I completely prefer Tait to Peter Furler, but "He Reigns" wasn't as good without Furler's distinctive voice. "Born Again," though, was awesome!

Overall, it was a fun concert, and I'm glad I got to go! (Now, if we could just work on that dc Talk reunion tour ...)

November 27, 2010

a picture's worth ...

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. Since I haven't been writing much lately, I thought I'd throw up a few pictures to catch you up with my life!

I got Mom tickets to Straight No Chaser's Omaha concert for her birthday. As you can see, we were quite happy to be there! My favorite part was, surprisingly, this Lady Gaga medley.

In early October, my sisters and I ran/walked a 5K. The experience made me want to do another!
Thanks to a facebook friend, I've become obsessed with this bread. It's so easy and absolutely delicious!
In early November, I accompanied a group of students on a trip to DC. This is one of my favorite shots.
My cousin Shawna was on the trip, and I enjoyed spending time with her. Here we are outside Lee's Mansion in Arlington National Cemetery.
On the way home from DC, we stopped at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, where I "got" to hold this snake. Pretty brave, if I do say so myself!
This picture serves two purposes: 1) To show off my new hair color. 2) To thank cousin Bethie for the Sleepy Monk coffee and Cannon Beach mug she brought me when she visited for Thanksgiving.
Yesterday, Blendy and her friend Janelle came over to help me decorate. Then we watched You've Got Mail while I wrapped all the presents I've bought so far.

November 19, 2010

a fairy tale

Once upon a time, I married Shane West. I suddenly remembered this while watching a recent episode of Nikita, my new "guilty pleasure" show. He was on screen, and I literally shouted, "I MARRIED HIM!" Fortunately, I was alone at the time.

Of course, I didn't actually marry West. Rather, I married him in my obituary. In my college news writing class, one of the assignments was to write our own obituaries. I had fun with mine, and it became even better when my sister Val got her hands on it and embellished it a bit more. So I present, for your reading pleasure, my obituary. (Val's additions are in italics. I also just realized that I probably shouldn't put all this personally identifying information out there, so I'm changing and/or leaving out a few things.)
Rebecca West, known as the "Christian Entertainment Voice," died Sunday of natural causes at her home in Central City. She was 85. Because her entire estate was left to one relative, her daughter, Cassandra Kilers, it was at first believed that she had been "done in" in another tragic case of greed by a cold-hearted relative who just couldn't wait. However, because Cassandra was already well-off thanks to the untimely death of her husband, Michael Kilers of Chicago, on whom she had a $1,000,000 life insurance policy, it was decided that she did not need the money and, therefore, did not "buy the farm" for her mother.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Swiss Church in Whitewater, Kansas. Pastor Jason McCullogh will officiate. Burial will be in the Whitewater Cemetery. 
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Lion Funeral Home. Family will be present from 6 to 8 p.m. Memorials are suggested to Nebraska Christian Schools and CAM International.
Mrs. West was born in Kansas to Robert and Susan R. She graduated from Nebraska Christian High School in Central City, attended Central Community College in Grand Island, and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. She received a Masters of Education degree from Northwestern University in Chicago in 2008.
On July 19, 2006, she married Dean Cain in Central City. They had three children. Mr. Cain was killed in a skiing accident in 2012. Cassandra was again a suspect early on in the investigation, but it was later determined that it was the malicious ski lodge owner who was jealous of Cain's fabulous abs who spiked the hot cocoa on that fateful day. Because of the influence of the alcohol, Mr. Cain "Just call me Dean" skiied into a tree. On November 25, 2015, she married Shane West of Los Angeles in Whitewater, Kansas. They had one child. 
Mrs. West's great loves were family, education, and entertainment. She combined these loves in her work as the "Christian Entertainment Voice." While doing her graduate work at Northwestern, she wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times which reviewed television programs in light of traditional moral values. This column spawned a weekly syndicated television show, "Family Entertainment," which also included movie reviews and interviews with members of the entertainment industry. Critics dubbed her the "Christian Entertainment Voice" due to her family-friendly reviews and her push for morality in Hollywood. 
Mrs. West also had a great love for romance novels, which she read daily. Upon the suggestion of her rustic husband Shane, she decided to try her hand at this "art." Her first book, "Love in Kansas," was based entirely on the exploits of her mother's teens and early twenties. Her second book, "You Skiied into a Tree, and Now I'm All Alone, Unless I Find Someone Else," was based upon the tragedy and triumph of her first husband's death. This was a bestselling book on the "Literature of Kansas" reading list.
 Mrs. West also taught high school English at Puebla Christian School in Mexico and Berean Academy in Elbing, Kansas; served as Chair of the Journalism Department at Multnomah Bible College in Portland; worked on the staff of "Plugged-In Magazine;" and founded and served as editor-in-chief of "Christian Entertainment Quarterly," which she continued to be involved with until her untimely death.
Survivors include her husband of Central City; two daughters, Jennifer Jensen of Whitewater, Kansas, and Cassandra Kilers of Chicago; two sons, Christopher Cain of Winona Lake, Indiana, and Jeremy West of Puebla, Mexico; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by an infant son, Jesse West; two grandchildren, Sydney Jensen and Jessica Cain; and one great-grandchild, Alec Hernandez. Her favorite saying was, "For all the saiiints who from their labors reeest to Thee by faith before the world confeeeeeeeeeessed." While she lived a seemingly full life, she never fulfilled two dreams; to become Michelle Kwan, and to personally meet the entire cast of the show "Full House."
After reading that, who here thinks Val should blog? Also, according to my timetable, I still have time to marry Shane West. Just sayin'.

November 7, 2010

leavin' on a coach bus

Early tomorrow morning, I and 45 or so others will climb onto a bus, where we'll remain until we arrive in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, early Tuesday morning. From there, we'll continue on to Washington, D.C. I'm going along as a sponsor for my school's annual sophomore trip. If you think of me in the next week, pray for me: bus rides and I are not friends, as I have an extremely difficult time sleeping while traveling. Bus ride aside, I'm very excited about this trip, as I've never been to DC before. To make it even better, my cousin Shawna will be on the trip, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with her! I'm not taking my laptop, so I won't be blogging along the way like I did on my last several road trips, but I promise to update you when I get home!

October 21, 2010

sometimes, the answer comes sooner

I've come to expect answers to prayer (at least answers in the affirmative) to come slowly. I've been praying for a husband for the last 11 years. Still waiting on that one. I've been praying for a friend's salvation (though not as consistently as I should) for six years. About a year ago, she told me she had been reading the Bible I gave her, but as far as I know, she hasn't become a Christian. I've been praying about a health insurance issue for several months. I may know the result by the end of the month.

It's not that I think God can't answer "big" prayers soon, but I often think He won't. In the last week, God has answered two of my recent prayers, and I must admit that I was surprised by both of them.

The first answer to prayer came the day after I asked my Bible study group to pray about it. One of my classes, an advanced reading class, is made up of 10 international students, all juniors and seniors. I absolutely love teaching the class, and I've sensed that my relationship with some of the students might be poised to go outside the classroom. So I asked the girls to pray that I'd have wisdom and opportunities to get to know some of the students on a deeper level. The next day, one girl walked into class talking about how much she wanted a Pooh Bear Latte. And I thought, "Here's the opportunity you've been praying for!" I snagged her after class and asked if she'd like to get coffee after school. Coffee turned into over an hour of really good conversation.

The other answer to prayer took a little longer ... three whole weeks! I asked my Bible study group to pray about my relationship with a girl I've known pretty well for a few years. I had a really good talk with her sometime last month, and I asked her if she'd like to get together on a fairly regular basis. Other than mentioning it in Bible study, I did nothing--I just wasn't sure what we should do; I've never seen myself as a mentor before. Last week, she cornered me in the hallway (she goes to NC) and said we needed to talk ASAP. She came over on Sunday night, and we spent four hours together--drinking coffee (do you see a theme???), watching country YouTube videos, and talking about some really serious stuff.

In both cases, I found myself stunned that God would answer my prayers so immediately ... and humbled by my lack of faith. This experience has taught me that I need to pray believing that God will answer, whether it's with a "yes," "no," or "wait"!

October 6, 2010

really, really cheap music

Consider this a public service announcement: iTunes now has lots of songs for $.69! I'm sure Amazon will jump on the bandwagon soon enough, but for now, they only have about 12 songs that cheap. I just bought Breakfast at Tiffany's (a high school favorite of mine) and Crusin' ... and I'd certainly consider lots more if I wasn't trying to restrict my spending!

September 29, 2010

a quick update

Life has been so busy lately! I keep thinking of things to write about, but then I don't get around to it. So, here's another of my famous "bullet" updates:
  • Mom and I are seeing Straight No Chaser in Omaha tomorrow night! I bought the tickets for her birthday--in May--and it's crazy to think the day is almost here. I'm sure I'll have more to say after the fact. Too bad our tickets aren't as amazing as they were last December!
  • I've started a blog for my advanced reading class. As of now, it's private, meaning only the class members and I can read or post to it. We may go public later. For now, though, here's a look at the class (at the top of the page). I absolutely love teaching them!
  • My dreadfully neglected other blog lives again! (Well, there's one new post ... it's a start!)
  • Blendy and I just signed up for the Singing Christmas Tree. Practices start in just over a week. I love Christmas!
  • Speaking of Christmas, how's this for a gimmick? One of our radio stations, Star 97.3, has been playing Christmas music non-stop since Sunday afternoon. Apparently the station is switching formats--listeners are about to receive the "gift" of a new radio station ... hence the Christmas music in the meantime. I listened off and on for about a day--now I wish they'd just get on with it and play whatever it is they're going to play. At least I haven't heard the Christmas song that makes me want to drive over a cliff ... (Another station switched formats almost exactly a year ago. They had their own annoying gimmick to go with the switch.)
  • I've signed up for my first 5K! Val's going to run it, and Blendy and I will walk it together. Wish us luck!
  • I just found a new "favorite" movie. It's called Perfect Romance, and you can watch it on Hulu for a few more days. Starring LOST's Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick), it's a cute little romance ... and it's incredibly clean, especially considering it's a Lifetime movie. If you're a sucker for romance, you'll like it!

September 27, 2010

my new place

This post is long overdue ...

In late July, I learned of an opportunity to move out of the apartment I'd lived in for the last four years and into a (rather large) house. The house belongs to an elderly woman who, when she lived in Central City, attended the church I grew up in. This woman and her children had decided it was time to sell the house, and they wanted to know if I would be interested in living in it while it's on the market. I would pay utilities and a minuscule amount of rent. After crunching the numbers and realizing I would save money by moving, I agreed.

I've now been living in the house for just over a month. I love it! I've already written about some of the things I enjoy--my two favorite aspects are the kitchen (it's amazing to cook in!) and the washer/dryer. After four years of using my apartment building's creepy laundry facilities or taking advantage of my parents' generosity and using theirs, I'm thrilled to be able to do laundry whenever I want. I'm sure once winter rolls around, the garage will become a lot more important, too!

There are a couple drawbacks to the house, of course. I absolutely hate mowing the lawn, and this lawn is massive. I have to keep the house clean because it could be shown at any time. Once the house sells, I'll have to find a new place to live. I really hope it doesn't sell during the winter--it would be horrible to move in sub-zero temperatures!

Now, on to the pictures! (The house also has two more bedrooms and a bathroom that I didn't take pictures of because they're empty. This house is enormous!)
The spare bedroom.

The half bath.

My bathroom.

A view of the whole kitchen workspace.

The oven area. (It's a gas stove--I'm so excited to not have electric!)

Built-in desk.

The living room.

The dining room.
The entryway (part of the dining room).

My front door.

My bedroom.

My bedroom. (Someday I'll buy an adult-looking bedroom set and my room will no longer be confused with a 13-year-old girl's!)

The sunroom/exercise room.

My massive lawn. The property extends to the fence in the back!

The garage.

September 20, 2010

a great deal!

Several weeks ago, I told you about Born Again, the new album from the Newsboys. It still is one of my favorite albums, and I recently learned you can get it from Amazon for $5! What a deal! You can preview 30-second snippets of each song and buy the album here!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 9, 2010

in other long-forgotten band news ...

Continuing on my theme of "bands that made me happy back in the day," I have some sad news: the lead singer of LFO passed away recently. Who's LFO, you ask? The Lyght Funkie Ones are best known for their summer hit "Summer Girls" (If you listened to radio in the late 90's, you probably know it: "New Kids On The block had a bunch of hits, Chinese food makes me sick. And I think it's fly when girls stop by for the summer, for the summer ... "), but I remember them for a song that came out a few years later: "Every Other Time."

The one and only time I got pulled over, that song was on the radio. It was my "happy song" of the semester--the song I got ridiculously excited about and sang at the top of my lungs each time it came on the radio. I had just left my night class--American History I, a dreadfully boring class that met on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings. On the outskirts of Grand Island, "Every Other Time" came on. A burst of energy poured through me, and I "danced" and sang along. Then I saw the flashing red lights. Suddenly, "Every Other Time" wasn't so fun. I looked at my speedometer. 63. "Is he really pulling me over for going three over?" I asked the air. Trembling, I pulled over and began digging for my license. "License and registration, please," the officer said after I rolled down my window. Frantically, I pawed through the glove box. I couldn't find the registration anywhere. "I'm sorry; this is my dad's car," I murmured as I continued emptying the contents of the glove box onto the passenger seat. "I think it's right there," he said, using his flashlight to point at one of those nifty registration & insurance holders, which was on top of the pile. I sheepishly handed him the registration. "Do you know why I pulled you over?" he asked. I shook my head, remembering that someone once said you should never admit to speeding. "Your left taillight is broken. I'm giving you a fix-it ticket." Still shaking, I thanked him, took the ticket, and drove away. I'm grateful to have that be my only run-in with the law!

Despite the reminder of being pulled over, "Every Other Time" continued to be "my" song ... well, mine and my best friend Dorinda's. When I was away at college, she even sent me a mix cd which included this song, along with a dolphin greeting card--because of the lyric, "Sometimes we swim around like two dolphins in the ocean of our hearts." Ahhh, the memories! To this day, I listen to it every time it comes up on my ipod.

thanks, brittany!

Well over a year ago, I wrote about a concert I attended in Hastings. (Read about it here.) In my post, I reminisced about other concerts I attended at that same venue. The long-forgotten Christian group Church of Rhythm was at one of those concerts. While hanging out with my cousin Brittany on our Labor Day camping trip (post about that to follow later), I looked through her insanely large stack of cd's, many of which used to belong to her older siblings ... and found a Church of Rhythm cd in the pile! Of course, I became incredibly excited when I saw the cd, and I had to tell her the whole story of our families going to the concert together (which I also detailed in the aforementioned post). She let me borrow the cd, so I am, at this very moment, listening to music that I thought was oh-so-cool fifteen years ago. Thanks, dear cousin!

September 2, 2010

things i love about my new place

  • the dishwasher
  • two huge windows in the living room
  • the washer/dryer set. They're old, but they do the trick!
  • the gas stove
  • the ceiling fans
  • the storage space in the kitchen
  • the garage
  • the yard
  • the proximity to my workplace
Pictures to come soon!

August 30, 2010

how "lost" should have ended

Maybe someday I'll actually stop talking about Lost. I came across this video today, and I had to share. If you didn't watch the show, though, it probably won't make much sense!

August 29, 2010

concert time!

My sister and I just got home from seeing Lifehouse at the Nebraska State Fair. It was awesome! Lifehouse has been my favorite band ever since my brother gave me a copy of No Name Face in 2001, so I was absolutely ecstatic when I learned they'd be playing at the fair. To top it off, the concert was free with a paid gate admission. We got early bird tickets, so it only cost us $6 each to go!

The concert was a blast. I was a little worried Lifehouse would be one of those bands that sounds totally different (read: terrible) live. Not the case! They were excellent. We arrived an hour before the show ... well, actually, let me back up. The concert was free with open seating, but you had to have a wristband that you picked up at the box office in order to get in. There were four types of wrist bands--blue, yellow, red, and green. You could enter the concert at the time allotted to your wristband--anywhere from 2 hours to 30 minutes before the concert. Because I had no idea how quickly the wristbands would go, I wanted to get to the fair early. We left Val's apartment just after 3; we got to the box office at 3:45 (thanks to the ridiculous parking and clueless parking attendants) and got red wristbands, which meant we could enter one hour prior to the show. That left us with over three hours to kill, and after wandering the fair for a while, we decided to leave and come back in time for the concert.

We got pizza, ice cream, and coffee at Hy-Vee and chilled at Val's for a while. When we got back to the fair, we were able to go right into the auditorium. I got a kick out of the people sitting around us ... the guy behind us who obviously wasn't a Lifehouse fan (when an All-American Rejects song came on before the show, he asked, "Is this Lifehouse?"); the teen girl who liked lead singer Jason Wade a little too much ("Seriously, you have no idea how awesome he is!"); the middle-aged woman who was totally into every song, and her husband who was just ... there; the guys next to me who took pictures through the entire show (I know I ended up in some of them ... including one time when I was belting out a song. Bet that one's attractive!)  In the "random" category, I saw one of the pastors from my church walk in with his wife--and it wasn't one of the youth pastors! I told Val that his knowledge of Lifehouse probably started and ended with viewing a YouTube video where a youth group performed a skit set to "Everything." (Like this one, for example.)

The concert lasted about 90 minutes--no opening act, which I was totally fine with--and they played all their hits--"Hanging by a Moment" (which is, quite amusingly, called "Hanging by a Thread" on their Twitter page), "You and Me," "First Time"--and the two currently on the charts: "All In" and "Halfway Gone." Val was especially happy to hear her favorites, "Broken" and "Wrecking Ball." Unfortunately, while they were tracking with Val, they didn't play any of my favorites. But considering I own practically everything they've released, it wasn't like I didn't enjoy and sing along with the songs they did play! Skipping "Had Enough" was understandable, since it's a duet with Chris Daughtry. I'm still hoping they release that as a single--in light of Daughtry's popularity, I think it could be a hit (plus, it's a really good song!). Two of my other favorites, "Breathing" and "Everything" are old, and "Storm" isn't exactly a rocking anthem, so I can understand why they weren't played ... but I hope if I ever get the chance to see them again, they at least do "Everything." For me, that would make the concert complete. And I'd happily pay more than $6 to see them next time!
Our "ridiculously excited to be at a Lifehouse concert" faces.
The band--I think they're playing "All In."
Our "is Lifehouse really playing 40 yards away from us?" faces.

August 17, 2010

once things settle down ...

I'll start blogging again. I promise. I never finished blogging about our big pricelining trip, I have a book review to write, and I need to tell you all about my birthday weekend. But all that will have to come later, as I'm in the middle of moving! I'll tell you all about the house once I'm moved in, of course. And school started today, so I'll have things to say about that. For now, though, know that I'm still out there, and I'll be back to the blog soon!

August 6, 2010

i can't stop listening

So the Newsboys released their new album last month. I liked them back in the day, but I was never a super fan. Take Me To Your Leader came out my freshman year of high school, and while I enjoyed the album (especially "Breakfast" and the title track), I can't even remember what most of the songs sound like. I did buy--and liked--Adoration, but I never listened to it that much. Then, when Amazon was having one of their $5 mp3 album sales, I got In the Hands of God; it's been on my iPod since then ... and I think I've skipped it every time it's come up! (Side note: This month, over 1,000 albums are $5. Insane!) 

Contrast that with my beloved dc Talk. I could sing every line of every song on Free At Last--in fact, I still listen to it on a semi-regular basis. The only two dc Talk albums I don't own are their first two. If they were still releasing new material, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

I was, needless to say, intrigued when I learned Michael Tait would be joining the Newsboys. I didn't really think about how Tait would affect the Newsboys' sound ... I just hoped that TobyMac and the Newsboys might go on tour together and pull out a little old school dc Talk! (Which sort of happened--see it here on YouTube.) My friend Kensy got the album soon after it came out, and she loved it. I still wasn't sure, though--I just haven't been excited about the Newsboys lately. Then I heard "Born Again" on the radio ... and it sounded so dc Talk-ish that I couldn't resist! I downloaded the whole album; now I can't stop listening to it! A lot of Amazon reviewers have been complaining that the album doesn't sound like the Newsboys. That's true--and I like it for precisely that reason!


August 1, 2010

pricelining: days 3 & 4

We were without internet access at our last hotel, so I wrote this on Friday but didn't have the opportunity to post until tonight.

For what we did on day three, see Blendy’s blog!

This morning, we got up at 9 and readied ourselves to leave. I booked our hotel—$48 for a room at the Extended Stay America in Copley, Ohio. This was our worst deal yet, as regular price is $70. Also, this is our worst hotel yet, but I’ll get to that later.

After filling the car and driving through Krsipy Kreme, we headed off for Butler, Pennsylvania, the location of the nearest Ross store. Val and I visited Ross in Oregon last summer, and I was looking forward to more great clothing deals. Unfortunately … we never found the store! Google Maps let us down :-(. So we continued on our way to Copley (which is near Akron).

As we pulled up to the hotel, I thought, “Uh, oh.” It just looked, well, not very nice. My hesitation continued as we stepped into the lobby and were greeted by the scent of cigarette smoke. We checked in, headed to the car, and lugged our stuff up to the second floor. We entered our room—and realized it hadn’t been cleaned yet! I called the front desk, and the girl asked us to return for a new room. So we lugged all our stuff downstairs and then back up again. In retrospect, I should have checked out the room before bringing everything in. To top it all off, internet access costs $5—so we decided to pass on that for the night. The room itself isn’t so bad—we have lots more space than we had at the Microtel in Erie—but I’m just pretty unimpressed with the whole experience so far.

We had a double bed ... but I enjoyed sitting in the recliner.
The room had a kitchenette ... it would have been perfect for a longer stay.
Tonight, we got together with my college friend, Holly. Our hotel just happened to be literally two minutes from her apartment! We went our for supper at Swensons, a drive-in restaurant. This was—by far—the highlight of my day! You know how at Sonic the car-hops sometimes wear skates? Well, at Swensons, the car-hops RUN. As in, when they see your lights on (which is how you signal you need help), they run towards your car, full steam ahead. It was absolutely hilarious watching them!

Holly drove us by LeBron James' house.
Holly and me. We hadn't seen each other in six years!
Now we’re back at the hotel. I’m trying to steal the wi-fi signal from the Raddison across the street so we can watch some Veronica Mars, but it’s not working very well. We’ll need to leave for the wedding around 10:30—I’m looking forward to sleeping in!

July 28, 2010

pricelining: day 2

"Life doesn't always turn out the way you plan." While You Were Sleeping

Today certainly didn't turn out the way I planned. First of all, I didn't get up on time ... a fact that Blendy so kindly recorded on her blog. Then I had a few issues reserving our hotel room. Namely, I didn't want to pay what it was going to cost to stay in Canada ... so we changed our plans and booked a room in Erie, Pennsylvania. (A little different than Canada; I know!) Turns out that while we both wanted to see Niagara Falls and say we'd been through Canada, we were okay with staying in the good old USA. We have our room for two nights, and tomorrow we'll just explore the area. We'll definitely go to New York, as I've never been there before, and it's not so far from Erie. Don't know what we'll do there, but I've never been in New York before, so we can't be this close and not go!

Our trip was quite uneventful--which is good! Five hours and one crazy-expensive Ohio toll road later we arrived in Erie. Tonight's price: $50. Regular price: $89. So this deal isn't quite as good as last night's. Also, our room reminds us of a hospital. It's the Pepto-Bismol pink decor.

Unfortunately, we only have one bed.
My favorite part of the room--a window seat!
We decided to order pizza from Papa John's, and on our way there, we saw a discount movie theater that we might hit tomorrow night. Now we're watching Psych, and then we'll plan our day. I'm really glad we won't have to move tomorrow!
Steph enjoys the Papa John's pizza--we can't get it at home.

July 27, 2010

pricelining: day 1

Blendy and I are Pricelining our way out East. What that means is we're reserving all our hotels using Priceline.com's "Name Your Own Price" feature. Today's deal: $35 for a room at the Baymont Inn & Suites in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Regular price: $84.15.

Our trip began at 8 a.m. with a stop at our local coffee shop. It was all smooth sailing until we were about 40 miles from Kalamazoo. Then I glanced down and saw the low tire light was on ... dun, Dun, DUN! (I was going to link to last year's Oregon Trail blogs, as we had tire troubles then, too ... but after rereading all of them, I see that I didn't mention our leaky tire at all! Oh, well ... here's the link, anyway.) We pulled off at a closed rest area and checked the tires. They all seemed fine and had the appropriate amount of pressure, so we continued on our way. I'm very thankful that didn't happen as we were flying through the Chicago area!

After arriving at our hotel, we relaxed, watched a couple episodes of Veronica Mars, and headed to bed--we each had our own queen bed!

Our plan is to head to Canada tomorrow, visit Niagara Falls on Thursday, and end up in Akron, Ohio, on Friday. Then Saturday we'll go to college roommate Jodi's wedding and end up at college roommate Jen's apartment on Saturday night.

Blendy has also been blogging about this trip ... so you should check it out!

July 20, 2010

looking for love in all the wrong places

I'll admit it: I watch The Bachelorette. Though I don't follow it nearly as closely as I have in the past, I still follow it. And I eagerly anticipated watching last night's train wreck, which Reality Steve (a fountain of all things spoilerific) promised would turn Frank into "the most hated contestant in franchise history."

Really, Steve? Because the way I see it, Frank did the honorable thing. He bowed out once he figured his stuff out. Perhaps he should have spoken up sooner about his feelings for his ex. But it's not like Ali wasn't dating 24 other guys while she was dating him! In Bachelor-Bachelorette land, the "chosen one" is expected to date many people at once, while narrowing the field down to "the one." Since we're in the middle of a Bachelorette season now, I'll speak in those terms. Bachelorette Ali chooses who to send home and who to keep around. If she feels a connection with a guy, great--she'll keep him another week. If she doesn't, he's going home. She's supposed to explore her feelings for all the guys--and they're supposed to accept that this is part of the process. (Because the way you find love is by dating 25 beautiful people on a reality show. Oh, and there must be a helicopter--or five--involved.) However, no one had better go on the show to further a career (Justin, Wes) or even consider thinking of an ex. You'd better be there 100% "for the right reasons." (How many times has that phrase been uttered on the show?)

Whether Frank ends up with his ex or not, he knew he couldn't commit to Ali; why does this make him the bad guy? He could have waited until after they used the fantasy suite or after she picked him. And let's remember that they've only known each other for a few weeks in an extremely contrived environment. It's entirely plausible that some of the guys would still be harboring feelings for exes. It's also entirely plausible that some guys may not even be into the bachelorette. (Gasp!)

So quit hating on Frank and just enjoy the show for what it is: highly entertaining (and possibly highly scripted?) "reality" TV.

(I have to mention that I loved the looks on both Roberto and Chris's faces when Ali pulled out the fantasy suite card. Have you boys never seen the show before? When you get down to the end, this is what happens ... and yes, she's offering the card to the other guys, as well.)

July 14, 2010

tweet tweet

Well, I've done it. I've joined Twitter. I still don't really get how it works ... and I have no idea how much I'll use it. But if you want to, you can follow me at twitter.com/beckyritta.

July 7, 2010

with this ring ...

I had the pleasure and honor of being in my college roommate Jen's wedding last weekend. I drove out to Indiana on Thursday (Blendy came along to help me drive) and returned home on Monday. It was a crazy, busy weekend, and I loved every minute of it! (Well, I didn't love the minutes in stop-and-go traffic near Chicago ... )

Sarah, another dear friend from college, was also a bridesmaid in the wedding, and we both stayed at Jen's apartment throughout the weekend. We spent Friday afternoon helping Jen and her mom get things ready for the reception ... and we had Chick-fil-A for lunch!  (If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll probably remember that Blendy and I love Chick-fil-A!) In the evening, we had a cookout with the groom's family, and then Jen & Josh (the groom) dropped Sarah, Steph, and me off at The Chocolate Café while they ran errands. We had delicious ice cream! Since Jen's apartment is only a few blocks from The Chocolate Café, we decided to walk back. At a stoplight, I noticed this older, grungy-looking motorcyclist, but I didn't think much of it ... until he passed us again a few minutes later. There was a McDonald's about 20 yards ahead of us, and he pulled into the parking lot and shut off the motor. We kept walking. Just after we passed him, he restarted the bike and started to pull around the restaurant. That's when we made a break for the door, and we watched him roar away.  We changed our route back to Jen's to avoid the road we'd seen the biker on, and Sarah and I jumped every time we heard a motorcycle. Blendy, though, was oblivious!

On Saturday, Wedding Weekend truly began. We spent most of the day at The Oaks at Southpaw Farm. The property was once owned by Major League Baseball pitcher Jamie Moyer, and it's one of the most beautiful houses I've seen. First, the ladies involved in the wedding gathered for brunch. (The secret to the amazing scrambled eggs? Italian seasoning and dried mustard.) Then, two of the bridesmaids hosted a shower for Jen. We played Bridal Apples-to-Apples, and you'd think a team comprised of three of the six bridesmaids would have done well ... instead, we came in dead last! We went to the church for the rehearsal, then we all returned to The Oaks for the rehearsal dinner--Bruno's pizza! I sat with J-La, a friend of Jen's whose blog I've read. It was fun to meet lots of people who I "knew" through Facebook and Jen's blogs but had never met before! Above is a picture of the aprons Jen had made for all the women involved in the wedding. Sarah and I had both been admiring Jen's apron at home that morning, so we were pleasantly surprised to receive our own! Jen also gave the bridesmaids jewelry and flip flops. The flip flops were to be worn when we took outdoor pictures in South Bend and at the reception--and they totally saved my feet!

The wedding itself was beautiful, and the reception was a blast! Jen throws great parties, and her reception was no exception. She had a dessert bar featuring various candies, cheesecake, tres leches cake, buckeyes (known here in Nebraska as peanut butter balls), creme de menthe bars, and an assortment of other temptations.
The highlight for me, though, was the photo booth. Sarah, Blendy, and I went in twice. We didn't really have a plan for the first set we did, so we thought things through before we went in the second time. (Click on the pictures to see a full-sized view.) The first picture is our "sultry Shakespearean" faces--that's seriously a pose the photographer asked for when we were taking wedding pictures! If this picture is any indication, we looked like idiots in the wedding photo. The second picture is "Asian-style." It's nearly impossible to take a picture with my students without the peace sign showing up, so this picture is in honor of them. I can't remember what the third picture was supposed to be, and the fourth is us sending our love to Josh & Jen.

Monday morning, after far too little sleep, we had to head home. First, though, Sarah and I got breakfast at Le Peep. The best part of my breakfast was my caramel macchiato ... as you can see, I was pretty tired, so I needed the caffeine! Sarah and I decided that we should get together every 4th of July--last year, we were together in Montana, this year we were at Jen's wedding, and next year we'll be ... in Nebraska? Colorado? I'm thinking we should definitely meet up somewhere!


June 23, 2010

find us on facebook!

I spent the majority of my workday doing something that just a few years ago I would have found unfathomable ... I created a facebook page for my workplace! I had lots of fun adding old pictures and getting things set up. There's still a lot to do--as of now, we have virtually no pictures from the '80s and '90s because I still need to scan them in--but I'm looking forward to spending more time on it. Check it out!

Nebraska Christian Schools

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June 20, 2010

father's day

Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you!

June 16, 2010

insomnia musings

For the past three weeks, I've consumed very little caffeine. In the past--back when I downed three or four diet colas a day, often topped off with a cup or two of coffee--I never had to worry about being kept up by caffeine. It didn't matter if I drank a cup of coffee 20 minutes before bed; I'd be asleep within 30 minutes. Not so today. My sister came over to watch the NBA Finals game, and she brought iced coffee with her. I drank two glasses--the last at 10 p.m. I went to bed at 11:40, tossed and turned until 1:20, and then finally gave up. It's now 2:10, and I'm as wide awake as I was at 11. Lesson learned.

Some thoughts from my time not sleeping:
  • My air conditioner makes swallowing noises. I'm not kidding.
  • Airbrushed makeup looks really interesting. It also looks insanely expensive.
  • The Jeopardy! episode of Cheers is a classic. "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?"
  • I have no idea how I'll be functional in the morning.
  • Never Been Kissed is more enjoyable than usual in the middle of the night. Michael Vartan is a beautiful man. I really should read As You Like It--or maybe just get the Kenneth Branagh version from Netflix.
  • I'm so glad I'm using vacation days on Thursday and Friday ... but why oh why didn't I take Wednesday, too?
  • I can't remember the last time I was awake at 2:30 a.m. I must be old.
  • How soon should I try to sleep again? 
  • I'm actually going to do one of those stupid facebook notes about what's on your iTunes. If you're my facebook friend, you should check it out.
  • It's 3:01. My alarm goes off in 4 hours. I should probably try to sleep again!

June 13, 2010

rub-a-dub-dub

Three men in a tub ... I had to look up the rest of the nursery rhyme, and I find I didn't really know it at all. No matter, though! I think it was in one of my childhood books; at least I have a picture in my head of a drawing that had three guys in a bathtub on the ocean.

Crazy as it sounds, that picture describes what I did last weekend! No, I didn't get lost at sea in a bathtub ... I went tanking!

Seven friends and I went up to the Calamus River, rented two plastic cow tanks, and floated down the river! We had a blast--except for the hour when the sun went behind the clouds and the wind came up--and I didn't even get sunburned, thanks to my new Aveeno SPF 100. (SPF 100--a product created just for pasty white people like me!)

My pictures will tell the story better than I can, so follow this link to the album I posted on facebook ... enjoy!

June 3, 2010

my radical experiment

A few weeks ago, I read and reviewed Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream. In my review, I said I thought Radical would ultimately change me. It's already beginning, as I have embarked on my own version of "The Radical Experiment."

I began on May 18. Because I know how easy it would be for me to quit at some point, I want to make public what commitments I've made so you can help keep me accountable! Each commitment, which is taken directly from Radical, will be followed by what I plan to do.
  1. I will pray for the entire world. I'm using Operation World, a book Radical's author recommended. My version was last updated in 2004, so I'm sure some of the "countries" I'll be praying for no longer exist! A new version will be released this fall, but I didn't want to wait that long for the book. What I really love about the book is it lists the countries by date. Since I was starting on May 18, I just turned to the May 18 page and started there.
  2. I will read through the entire Word. I don't know that I've ever done this before. In theory, I did in high school, as we were supposed to read the New Testament in Freshman Bible and the Old Testament in Sophomore Bible. However, I'm pretty sure I quite liberally skimmed (or is it scanned?) large chunks of the OT. I'm using the Deliberate People reading plan. Each day's reading only takes 20 minutes or so ... the key is not to get behind!
  3. I will sacrifice my money for a specific purpose. I'm not sure what purpose this is yet--I know I want it to be something that I don't currently support. As a part of this (but by no means all), I'm committing to not purchasing any dvds for myself for the next year and putting the money I'd normally spend on dvds towards this purpose, whatever it ends up being. This could very well be the most difficult aspect of this experiment for me. To some ... probably most ... of you, not spending money on dvds would be no big deal. But if you've seen my movie and TV show collection, you know that I enjoy adding to my dvd library on a regular basis. My resolve has already been tested (can we say Amazon.com's TV week?), and it's sure to be tested again. But I'm determined to do this. And if you have any ideas of where I could give my money, let me know! (I do have one dvd I fully intend to purchase, so I'll be upfront about it: Well over a year ago, I promised myself I could buy the complete series of Sports Night once I lost 30 pounds. I'm down 20 now, so chances are the remaining 10 will come off during this year. And when that happens, I'm giving myself my reward!)
  4. I will spend time in another context. Platt recommends at least a week spent serving others and sharing Christ. Again, I don't know yet what this looks like, but I'm praying about it. This is the one area where I will probably need more than a year. Due to my job, it's difficult to get away during the school year, and as I don't yet know where I'm going, I doubt it will happen this summer (though God could surprise me!). So I'll probably have to do this after school lets out next May.
  5. I will commit my life to a multiplying community. This means getting more involved at my church. For starters, I should probably start attending Sunday School on a regular basis ... especially considering the reason I don't is I want to get more sleep! I also need to pursue church membership. I've been considering it for a long time--and by "considering" I mean thinking about it every once in a while and not taking any steps to make it happen. I like my church and have no plans to leave, so I should commit to it.

June 1, 2010

superman, save me!

This is probably the closest I will ever come to kissing Dean ...

(We visited the Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, on Memorial Day. I highly recommend it!)

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