Sunday, June 28, 2009

karaoke party time!

last night jeremy and i went out with some friends (mostly from work) to whiskey bend for some karaoke fun. ellen's fiancee jim was amazing on the microphone and he jumped up right away when the list opened. it took the rest of us a little longer to work up the nerve to go up to the stage. gaby was the first one to go of the girls, and i followed sometime after. she sang two different songs: ironic and whoomp there it is! i sang strawberry wine. the beatles were my back up singers, which was weird for a country song but worked out ok in the end. that was the longest four and a half minutes of my life. seriously. i am not a singer and too many of the other karaoke-ers were better than amateur level (and im not even close to amateur level) our final performance of the night was pretty woman. that used to be my favorite song to play on the jukebox at jimmy's diner. we were cracking up too much to actually sing the song but it was super fun. being on stage in a group is WAY better.

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final ochsner barbecue

last tuesday night we had a barbecue at lance and kris's house. kris's sister was in town and so was alicia. we had a great time cooking out, hanging out, and feeling good. we played round robin ping pong again, which is always a winner. i got to spend a little special time with owen. this was my second to last time to see him before i leave since the stellers left to go back to virginia and wont return until after the 7th.
kim, alicia and i got a little bit crazy, as usual. they had to leave early to take alicia to the airport to return home... :( it was great to spend time with her at the bbq and at the beach on sunday though.

i love our friends here so much and gonig to miss each and every one of them like crazy when i leave... in 9 days! eek!
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

sacred pathways tour part 3

sensate: loving god with the senses, literally sight, sounds and smells that overwhelm us in worship
traditionalist: loving god through ritual and symbol
we spent about 30 or so minutes at st. vincents cathedral. looking at the stained glass, sitting in the squeaky pews or kneeling on the creaky kneelers or smelling the smoke from the prayer candles all served to focus the entire group on the reason we were there. it was amazing how boisterous the group was in the parking lot and as soon as we walked into the cathedral we all started whispering and tip toeing around.
in the parking lot after we went through our time of reflection insdie shannon passed around different flavors of honey for us to taste and really think about, using our senses, mainly taste and smell. mine was orange blossom and after really focusing on the flavor of the honey i could taste the orange in it.
the entire day was really amazing, and shannon put a TON of work into making the experience meaningful and real. each destination held new things to see and experience and it was wonderful. thank you shannon!

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sacred pathways tour part 2

we went to a womens shelter to serve lunch and explore the caregiver pathway, but unfortunately we arrived too late to help out. we did get a tour of the facility and were able to talk to a couple of the women and learn what they do and how they serve the needy in downtown la. after leaving there, we headed to olvera street for lunch and to explore the mystic and enthusiast pathways. i was very enthusiastic about my tamale and taquitos!

there was a group of dancers doing traditional indian dances in the courtyard. this was a great way to experience how the mystic and enthusiast are actually one and the same (the group decided there were two distinct parts to the pathway described in one chapter in the book).

after leaving olvera street, we headed to la city college to a gallery of political posters based on famous works of art. the two the spoke to me the most were the one based on a norman rockwell painting and one based on the thinker. sorry for the glare. the first one is the political art, and the second one is the original with a short explanation of each. if you click on the picture, it will enlarge and you might be able to read the text.

this one is basically a social commentary on the images the media is presenting to young girls and how messed up we are making them.

and of course the thinker... never the doer. especially appropriate for the pathways we illustrated by this stop on the tour: the intellectual and the activist.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

sacred pathways tour part 1

'CoverCover of Sacred Pathways

after the live production team finished reading sacred pathways by gary thomas (a wonderful book that you should all read), shannon arranged a tour of los angeles where we could experience each of the 9 pathways.

we started the tour at the arboretum, where we explored the pathways of the naturalist and the ascetic. there were fields of flowers, peacocks, waterfalls, and tons of other things to see and experience. this (and the huntington library) are two wonderful ways to experience nature and god's creativity right in the middle of the city.

we were also told to spend about five minutes sitting still and in silence meditating on god. i chose to sit in an alcove slightly off the main path by a quiet fountain. it was a wonderful time of loving god in solitude and simplicity. the verse we were given to meditate on was psalm 46:10. "be still and know that i am god."

by the waterfall there was a series of steps that shannon challenged us to walk up, pausing on each one to think of some quality of god that we are thankful for. this was to explore the contemplative pathway, or loving god through adoration. here is some of what i came up with:





sense of humor









righteous anger


read psalm 63 and see what you come up with
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Monday, June 22, 2009


i didnt get any pictures of the ceremony this year. we held grad uation at night instead of 10am this year for the first time maybe ever but definitely since ive been at dubnoff. friday was an insane day, running around, working on setting up things outside (it was the hottest day we've had in over a month AND windy - yay for taping down all the tablcloths!), assembling the programs, etc. ceci was in charge - i was thankful to just do what she told me. we made it through. i missed most of the ceremony because i was helping cec set up the food. i got to hear the graduate's tahnk you speeches though. thats the kind of thing that makes everything we do all year feel worthwhile. nine kids are graduating - four with their diplomas and the other five with the potential to receive a diploma if they pass the high school exit exdam at some point in the next two years. at least one of our kids is going to college next year.

at the end of the ceremony, after everyone had eaten tri tip and coleslaw and a huge piece of graduation costco cake, we headed to the office bar and grill for a drinkie to celebrate the end of school. there were still several people who didnt know that i am leaving in a week and a half, so they were understandably sad about that. i am too. its such an exciting time but there are so many unknowns out there.

it isnt too dissimilar from some of our kids. when they graduate from dubnoff, a lot of them dont have the family support to help them get through college or tech school, may be incapable of holding down a job or even getting one, and a lot of the services they have been using to cope over the last 10 or more years are no longer available to them.

im leaving all my friends, my family (i dont think cricket is coming with me and jeremy is staying behind regardless), my job, my church, my gym, my routine... everything that is everything to me. being a creature of routine and not so much interested in change or spontanaeity, especially without jeremy with me. so im graduating from dubnoff and from los angeles and heading into the great beyond.

new hampshire here i come! (in 14 days)

15 Books in 15 Minutes

take no more than 15 minutes and think of 15 books that have influenced you and will stick with you forever:

1. the red tent
2. ender's game
3. love you forever
4. outlander
5. a long fatal love chase
6. just listen
7. sacred pathways
8. hunger games
9. the gift of the magi
10. zel
11. the tipping point
12. my sister's keeper
13. the maker's diet
14. the hiding place
15. the velveteen rabbit

these books are all really different and mean something to me for really different reasons.

what are your 15 in 15?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

i can't believe this is FINALLY happening!

i bought myself an airplane ticket today. a one way ticket. from lax to boston. i'm leaving jeremy and moving to new hampshire. ok not leaving leaving him, just moving ahead. since my hours were getting cut july 1 and jeremy's job provides our health insurance, we decided it would be best if i moved out to new hampshire, found a monthly rental apartment, and looked for a job while jeremy stays in la and continues working for edward jones, praying an opening comes up in the area of new england he could conceivably commute to so he can transfer and keep his wonderful benefits, and packing up all our stuff.

once i get a job (also praying that happens very quickly) jeremy will get things finished up here and come out with me. we are still discussing who gets custody of cricket for the month or two we will be apart.

thats right, a month or two. yikes. we've been apart for four or five days before and been perfectly happy (you have to give yourself time to miss each other on occasion) but four or five weeks is a lot. i know married people do this all the time (the families of those serving in our armed forces spring to mind - thank you to each and every one of you by the way) but it will be hard.

and i won't have a car or a job or any friends. but i am still really excited. we've been trying to move to new hampshire for over a year now and the stars are finally aligning. i feel like god is calling us out there and i know he will make everything work out for us like he did when we moved to la.

so thats the big news. my last day in la will be july 7. im sad and happy and excited and terrified and a myriad of other emotions all at the same time. eeeek!


if you have every been on the increasingly popular twitter site, the bird and fail whale are very familiar images. the bird represents our tweets (twitter updates) and the fail whale appears whenever there is too much on the site and your request cannot be processed.
keeping this in mind, i was asked to bake cupcakes for a book group i am in. i decided to use these images as my inspiration and came up with the twitter bird and fail whale cupcakes you see below.

not perfect, but since the whales are filled with bavarian cream and the birds are filled with strawberry, i imagine everyone will be happy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

(very belated) ARC review

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

i received this arc a long long time ago and finally read it while we were in kansas. the good news is that it is first in a series and i managed to wait long enough that the second book should be coming out soon and i wont have to wait!

from the back cover:
dear reader,
i've always been drawn to the paranormal. maybe it's because i grew up watching the outer limits and the twilight zone. stephen king has been one of my favorite authors since i read carrie on the bus home from college.

i discovered urban fantasy with laurell k hamilton. i wanted to write something just like that. i wanted to create stories about one character who rises and falls, moves forward, steps back and who lives and learns and loves like the rest of us - but in a world very different from our own.

elizabeth phoenix resembles you and me in many ways. she's lost things - her partner, her job, a man - but she keeps going on. even when she discovers that the end of the world is bearing down, and she's the only one who might be able to stop it.

of course liz is different too. she's psychic, which has caused her no small amount of trouble in life. but liz is about to discover that she was born for a reason, and the powers she has are only the beginning.

travel with liz from her hometown (and mine) milwaukee to the gorgeous vistas of new mexico, then on to the glittering world of manhattan where she fights demons of biblical proportions. with a little help from the two men in her life, neither of whom is completely human.

if you enjoy books that are scary and sexy, as well as funny - liz will say anything - then you'll love any given doomsday and the world of the phoenix chronicles as much as i do.

all best wishes,
lori handeland

basically liz grew up in a foster care like situation and her foster mother is killed. this is when liz realized her higher calling. with help from another boy (man now) that she fostered with she will fight to save the world from some pretty scary dudes.

it was a fun read, and i think i will enjoy the second one more. the first book in a sci-fi/fantasy series always has a lot of set up of the "world" the characters live in and so moves more slowly in parts. this book had some of that, but still kept me interested in the story the entire time. i'd recommend it if urban fantasy is a genre you enjoy. :)

picnicing in style

on saturday night we met a bunch of friends at hollywood forever cemetery for a screening of funny face. neither of us had ever seen it and it is always fun to go to the cemetery and watch the movie projected on the side of a masoleum. we FINALLY got to use our christmas gift frm shane and darci - wine and cup holders that stick in the ground. everyone was suitably impressed - these things are freaking amazing! each cup holder has an individual color so you can tell which is your, plus they fit either cups or real wine glasses! and the holder can fit the BIG bottles of wine or even a two liter of soda. im so happy!

p.s. the last post was #500. that is a lot of blog posts!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

camping with the sandbergs

we took a quick overnighter out in the angeles forest with ryan and sarah (and their dog kia), some of our favorite camping buddies. it was so refreshing for all of us to spend some time out under the stars (and actually be able to see the stars) in the cold moutain air. we tried a bunch of new things this trip. jeremy and i made dinner - chicken cooked on a cedar plank. we got the idea from uncle mike wen we were in kansas over memorial day. i marinated the chicken in orange juice and garlic and it was amazing (if i do say so myself). we also had steamed vegetables (aunt tam made them in kansas too) and baked beans. the sandbergs brought desert - an ice cream maker ball. we loaded the ingredient in there and took turns shaking and rolling the ball for a half hour and then - like magic - delicious chocolate chip ice cream. as an after dessert specialty they brought a jiffy pop and we made ice cream. it was great! we played catchphrase in our tent - it was getting a little chilly outside, even by the fire.

on saturday we woke up, had our eggs in a bag and then played a few rounds of ladderball while smoking cigars.

the girls team put up a good fight but were defeated best out of three games. we moved on to the rope swing and kia had a great time chasing us around. sarah brought all kinds of goodies for lunch (including rhubarb cake which i didnt think i was going to like but was DELICIOUS) and we made snack packs for the car. they had rehearsal at noon so we left earlier in the morning than usual. even though we were gone for less than 24 hours, we came back happier and semi-well rested. sleeping on the ground in 40 degree weather just doesnt make for the best sleeping conditions. thankfully we had a free afternoon and after showering had a delicious nap in a real bed in a (sort-of) climate controlled space. cricket was happy to have us home!

cupcake sale

when all was said and done, the four of us baked and frosted enough cupcakes to make over $200 for graduation decorations and ironically enough, a graduation cake. we had all sorts of different cupcakes throughout the week. i did my first experiments with filling, making yellow cake with bavarian cream filling and white with strawberry. gaby made cream cheese icing for the first time. i also tried a new cake mix with no preservatives called naturally nora. it contains ingredients that are recognizable and pronouncable, so even though it has sugar (a makers diet no-no) it is a little easier to justify eating. although i only had one cupcake all week - working with them somehow makes me immune. now i know why all bakers arent massively overweight. :D

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our newest nephew

I am waiting ever so patiently for amy to send me some pictures... All I can give you guys is this one forwarded from jessie's phone. Sorry if the quality isn't great. But there he is!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

holding heaven in my arms tonight

ok well im not but ryan and amy are!

i dont have any pictures or any details really but here is what i do know.

caden ivan koci was born around 7:45pm central time today, june 9, weighing 8 lbs 5 oz and measuring 21 in long. (i think its weird that babies are measured long ways. why dont we say he is 21 inches tall?)

everyone is happy and healthy and tired.

thats all i know. jeremy took the call while i was at a women in leadership group so he didnt ask any of the right questions. he did do a great job of getting the time and weight down though.

all i can say is finally! amy was huge when we were there over memorial day so i can only imagine how she was feeling now, weeks later! now the trick is figuring out when we can hold our newest nephew...

Monday, June 8, 2009

baking lately

this year instead of ordering a cake for the prom, karla, cara, gaby and i each made one. the theme was music of the night and i made one shaped like a record. i also have pictures of the other girls' cakes on facebook. it was fun and everyone liked haing choices of different flavors and fillings of cakes.this week we are doing a bake sale to raise money for graduation. we each made a couple dozen little and big sized cupcakes. i used this opportunity to play around with some new deisgns, some i found in a magazine and others out of my head. not all of them turned out great but i had fun anyway.

the littler ones were more fun but also harded because the designs had to be shrunken down.
i hope they taste even better than they look and lots of people are hungry for cupcakes this week!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

arc review: strange angels by lili st. crow

from the back:

dru anderson

night hunter. knife wielder. heart breaker.

dru: sixteen-year-old dru has what her grandmother called the touch - a sixth sense that drives her from town to town to hunt ghosts, suckers, wulfen, andthe occasional reanimated corpse. but when evil comes knocking, can this loner tough girl stand the heat? or is it just a matter of time before her blood turns cold?

graves: goth boy graves has a big crush on new girl, dru. and with his lopsided grin and shaggy hair, she's noticed him right back. then a wulf bite threatens to change him for good, and dru will have to keep her distance... or else.

christophe: christophe's ice cold baby blues and wicked smile are the special kind of looks that kill. he's got a hunch that dru is way more special than she knows. trouble is, he's not the only one who has caught her scent. and it will take more than his razor-sharp fangs to ake out whatever - or whoever - is hunting her.

can dru stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affection? find out in the thrilling new paranormal series from razorbill, strange angels.

dru anderson's not afraid of the dark. but she should be.

ages 12 and up; on sale 6/11/09

from the author's website:

Dru Anderson has been “strange” for as long as she can remember. She travels from town to town with her father, hunting the things that go bump in the night and eat the unwary. It’s a weird life, but a good one–until it all explodes and a zombie busts into her new house.
Alone, terrified, and trapped in an icy town, Dru’s going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. Can she trust the boy who is just a little too adult–and just happens to get bit by a werwulf? Or the strange blue-eyed boy who tells her she’s heir to a long-forgotten power? Can she even trust her own instincts?
Because Dru is not the first in her family to be killed by the darkness of the Real World. The monsters have decided to hunt back–and now Dru has to figure out who to trust, who to fight, and when to run. And not incidentally, she has to figure out how she’s going to get out of this alive.
And she has to do it by sundown, or it’s all over…

my take:
i have been reading a lot of young adult books recently, and lots of fantasy in general. this book was a fresh take on the whole vampire vs. werewolve theme, as well as combining all the best parts of the uncertainty and general angst that comes with being a teenager and different in some way from everyone else at school. dru also has to deal with the loss of a parent, make some really hard decisions, and deal with some scary monsters.

this book was a little more gritty and realistic as far as content and language than some YA lit, but nothing in it was too objectionable for high school age students.

i really enjoyed the story and anxiously await more books in the series. i have also put several of lili st crow's adult lit books on hold at the library and am excited about that. she writes under the name lilith saint crow for adult and the shortened version for young adults. i also follow her on twitter @lilithsaintcrow or find out more about this book and the upcoming ones in the series at you can also watch the book trailer here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

final days in topeka

after we headed home on memeorial day from the campout and had showered (some of us RAN home and others drove...) we ate lunch and then jeremy and i drove back over to grandma and grandpas house so that grandpa could take us out to see the shane 80. aunt gertrude was otu with grandma helping her pick strawberries when we pulled up. those women sure harvested a TON of strawberries!

jeremy always talks about the land his grandparents own but i had never been out there. we got to see the old barn and some of them cows. i thought the cows were all really adorable and wanted to pet them but jeremy said no. i settled for taking a couple of fun pictures.

these are all the mama cows due in the fall. they didnt look too pregnant (and i certainly have NO authority on what a pregnant cow looks like) but they were pleasant company. i couldnt get too close but grandpa drove the truck right into their area and no one ran away. and they had cool hair. on our way back home we saw the marples out fixing a fence. it was great to run into family everywhere we went. :)

monday night we cooked out at shane and darci's. jeremy's best friend from high school and his wife emily and their two kids came over along with barb and jeff and jessie. we shot clay pigeons with shotguns and then a target with rifles and handguns. i didnt do too much shooting because it was hurting my poor baby ears (that still have random shooting pains in the inner ear from whatever problems i was having months ago that never completely resolved) but i did try the shotgun and one of the handguns. it was really fun. the burgers etc were really good too and it was fun to see casey and emily again.

tuesday morning grandma and grandpa drove us to kansas city. we stopped at ryan and amy's hosue to see them and we all went out to lunch before we had to head to the airport and back to california. it was a wonderful trip but i was SO ready to be back home sleeping in my own bed with my baby cat... :D

Friday, June 5, 2009

memorial day camping

the koci family camps out by grandma and grandpa koci's pond every memorial day. i had come once with jeremy when we were dating, and then the next year we were on our honeymoon and the next years since we have been in los angeles. it was wonderful that we were able to time out trip this year to coincide with not only max's graduation but also the campout. it was SO much fun! we got out there sunday afternoon and set up our tent. we just shared jeff's old tent with shane and darci and the kids. the boys immediate went to get the boat and stuff for fishing. jeremy set me up with a pole and i caught three fish, one of which was the first bass of the night. like i've said before, i'll catch 'em but i'm not touching them or any live bait. thankfully shane was a good brother and helped me out.

jeremy and shane rowed out into the pond and jeremy came out with a total of eight or so little fishies to eat.
then all of them boys all went up to the house and cleaned the fish while the girls got dinner ready. trekker ride!

the fish were great. uncle mike cooked them on cedar planks with some yummy lemon something or other seasoning. we went to the sporting goods store when we got back to LA to buy cedar planks for our next camping trip, which is next weekend. yay! the girls took turns out in the paddleboat and we did a lot of sitting around the campfire. aunt tam and grandma made some apple pies for dessert, along with the obligatory smores. around 10pm or so i was exhausted and the kids were ready for bed, so everyone settled in for the night. everyone except jessie and paige, who talked until about 3am. or so i'm told, as i fell right asleep and didnt wake up until 6 something when my bladder said it was time to make a trip up to the house.

monday morning involved more fishing (i was quite unlucky on monday), some horseshoes, some horsing around, and funnel cake for breakfast. if i had known funnel cake was involved in koci camping i think we would have structured our past visits to kansas a little differently.
im just saying.

weekend in topeka

we spent memorial day weekend in auburn with shane, darci, the kids, and the rest of the family. my mom dropped us off in the afternoon. jeremy and i got the tour of his parents' old house where he grew up which shane and darci now own they have redone every room and it looks amazing! i love the red kitchen especially. grandma brinkman, dennis and vera, and jessie came over for dinner on saturday night. we ate koci steaks and pasta salad and bread from darci's bread machine with grandma koci's strawberry jam. oh it was good eatin', let me tell you! it was nice to see the brinkmans and hang out for a while after dinner. when they left we played with the kids (jeremy got soundly trounced in hi ho cherry o) and after their bedtime went downstairs to play cards and x-box. shane, jeremy and i stayed up defeating the universe until about 2 am when we decided we couldnt make it any longer.

sunday morning when we woke up, the kids were delighted to tell us that the momma cat had kittens right on the back porch. when we got up she had had four during the night, and during that day she had four more (only one didnt make it). they were possibly the littlest cutest things ever. i didnt think that cricket would want a baby brother or sister, but i asked jeremy just to make sure. he said no. i had promised andrew that we would play wii, so we went downstairs and raced some cows and played a few innings of baseball. that thing really wears me out when i'm not used to it. swinging the bat and bowling the ball use really strange muscles. i had also promised brooklyn that we would go swimming, so the three of us changed into our swimming suits and headed out to the driveway where the pool was sitting, warming up in the sunshine. well, the water wasnt quite warm enough for me, but it was wonderful to sit with my feet in the pool while the kids played. they were really fun to watch and didnt splash me TOO much. after pool time we went over to jeff and barb's house to see it and hang out with them for a little while before the big family campout. it was nice to see jeff's new house and spend a little more time with barb, since we barely had a chance to meet her last trip. we also met barb's daughter kelli, so now i know who jessie is always talking about. :)