Sunday, July 29, 2007

Harry Potter & He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

So, I've been nicely reminded that this is Jenni AND Will's blog and that I(Will) needed to write a blog as I haven't written one yet. So, I figured why not make a confession for the whole world to know.

Last weekend there was a bunch of hype as a seventh and final "Harry Potter" book was published and released to the public.

This final book had been anxiously anticipated among the millions of teenage "Harry Potter Fans" of the world. These Potter-manics had grown up with the boy wizard and his daring adventures with sidekicks Ron & Hermione. Each book, a new year at Hogwarts - a special academy or school for those born as wizards & witches. There they became educated in the ways of sorcery & witchcraft, just as muggles (all of us with out magical powers) are educated for a future career. Each year their magical powers getting stronger and stronger as they hone their skills to take on the evil wizard Lord Voldemort (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) who wished to overthrown us muggles and make himself the most powerful man on Earth.

This seventh and last, most eagerly awaited book was available to buy last Saturday. It was in this final book that we would find out if Harry Potter survived the Dark Lord Voldemort. Would he die valiantly protecting the wizardry world or would he run and hide from his destiny of battling the Dark Lord?

All questions would be answered in this final Harry Potter book.

So, early Friday evening, the day before this big hit was to be released, millions of these teenage Potter Fans around the world stood in lines outside books stores, dressed in their wizardry outfits giggling amongst their circle of friends, pounding down their heavily laced caffeinated coke or mountain dew, speculating what they would find on the 750 pages of this final book, watching the clock tick until past their curfew, past their bedtime, awaiting the clock to reach that late hour of midnight when the bookstores would open their doors and start selling the millions and millions of copies.

After getting their hands on that final book they would return to their safe home and in solitude spend the rest of the night and all through the day Saturday pouring through the book to find out the fate of their beloved hero Harry Potter. Shutting out the rest of the world, so that someone else who had finished the book first would not spoil the ending by giving it away before eyes had scanned every page for themselves.

It was here in one of these lines at 1:30 am we find someone that doesn't fit in.

His head clearing all the other heads in the line. He must have been a foot taller than anyone else. He looked older and even had some wrinkles on his face. His hair was starting to gray on the sides. He could almost be the parent of one of these hyped up, caffeinated teenagers. It was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, yes, I myself, Will Thomas standing in line with a bright smile on my face, eagerly awaiting to purchase my coveted final Harry Potter book.

With me wife, Jenni, patiently waiting at my side asking me every hour, "Why are we wasting our Friday night doing this?, Why can't you come buy the book tomorrow morning?"

She, not having read the books, but only having watched the movies did not understand, she could not relate to how I or the throngs of teenage kids felt. So, again she patiently waited by my side as the line slowly creeped closer to the grocery cart filled to the brim of Harry Potter books behind the checkout, As I continue to count the number of kids in line ahead of me knowing that they were more dedicated fans to get there before me, then to estimate how many books it might take to fill up a grocery cart. Would there be enough? Did they have more books in back? These were the questions racing through my mind.

At last, wee into the night I had my opportunity to purchase my Harry Potter book.

I was as happy as a kid in a candy store. It felt like my birthday.

We arrived home, Jenni went straight to bed, I went straight for my book and the light on the night stand. I was determined like the other potter maniac teens to read through the night and all day Saturday. Even with the lack of caffeine in my system, I knew I would be able to make it.

After reading the 1st of the 36 chapters I was awoken with a pool of drool now soaking into the crisp pages of my new coveted book. I realized then that I was not young anymore and needed to pace myself. I closed the book for the night and vowed to finish it Saturday.

Come next Wednesday, I had finished all 750 pages. My eyes had read all that there was to read. I now along with the millions of teenage potter fans knew the outcome of Harry Potter. Who would have ever thought that Hermione was secretly conspiring with the Dark Lord Voldemort and that together they would kill Harry Potter and sidekick Ron and Rule the wizardry world.

Okay, so that didn't really happen, but if it did I wouldn't tell you anyway. You either have to go read the book yourself, or wait a few years for the 7th movie (or search "harry potter outcome" on the Internet or ask the next teenager you see).

So, yes, I, Will Thomas am "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" a true Harry Potter fan and I'm stepping out of the closet to let the whole world know.

This concludes my 1st ever blog. You may even get a second one from me some day!

Rat Race Weekend

Will and I decided to head over to the Olympic Peninsula this last weekend to escape the woes of everyday life and stress. While we were trying to escape the busy-ness of the work week, we felt like we were characaters in that 'Rat Race' movie the entire weekend as we competed for a spot on the ferry, a campground, and the even fought against the weather...

(We loved this sign next to the lighthouse - which by foot is a 5 mile hike down a spit (long piece of land surrounded by water). We opted to kayak out to the lighthouse, which was just under a 10 mile roundtrip route. The sign read "Welcome to Serenity" and then the other direction it said "Reality: 5 miles")

Wait for ferry in downtown Seattle at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon: 2 hours

Length of ferry ride: 45 minutes

Time from ferry landing to Sequim, WA: 1.5 hours

Time to find kiosk at a post office in the middle of nowhere: 3 towns and 5 hours

Number of campgrounds that accept reservations: None

Number of campgrounds that had an open campsite available: 1

Beating everyone else to it: Priceless.

Let the Rat Race begin!

As we neared 9pm and still couldn't find a campsite, we found out via one of the rangers that there was one more campground 3 miles up the coast and they had 1 tent site left.

(In your best racer announcer voice): And the racers are off! Will and Jenni Thomas scurry from the ranger office back to their car and jump in. They make a mess of the gravel and leave a cloud of dust as they race out of the parking lot!! What are they going to do, it's just a 2 lane road, thick with trees and cars.

Pass the first car! Right on - these folks are serious campers, they won't let anyone get in their way.

Pass the 2nd car!! Ooooh and they get flashed with the brights from the car behind. OH....but what is looks like a Jeep Cherokee and the back looks like it's full of camping gear. Definitely another camper. Will they let this stop them? No!! PASS again, they fly by the Jeep and turn into the campground and race down the gravel road.

Will runs up to the ranger office and spews out the words as fast as he can "Do you have any campsites left tonight? We'll take it!!"

Done! And the Thomases score the one and only last campsites available on the entire north end of the Olympic peninsula!! (Crowd cheering loudly)

We also kayaked out to the Dungenous Bay Lighthouse. It was quite the trip. We had the tides against us and the wind, and not to mention it was a 10 mile kayaking trip. I thought we were going to get attacked by harbor seals or pooped on by seagulls. But we finally made it.

Harbor Seals - We kayaked around 75 of these little buggers. I swear they were following us just waiting to jump up, make me scream and tip us over. But they didn't.

The Racers (LOL)

A cute kayaker I found

Reality: 5 Miles thataway

A passing cruise ship


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Jenni's Goachy Purse

Yes, that's right and I'm not afraid to admit it. While Will and I were in San Francisco, we specifically went to Chinatown so I could buy a knock-off designer purse.

I was so excited - I found the perfect purse and for 500% off what a normal Gucci would have cost!

And while I think my fashion skills are usually in peek condition, I did miss one big thing: The purse that I thought was a Gucci rendition, was not. See exhibit A.

Exhibit A - Jenni's purse

Notice the letter "G" etched into the fabric. I went through Chanel knockoffs, Louis Vuitton knockoffs only to find the perfect Gucci purse that I wanted. See exhibit B.

Exhibit B: A real Gucci brand purse

This is a picture of a REAL Gucci purse. Notice how the logo in exhibit A does not match the logo in Exhibit B.

It wasn't until one night when Will and I were lounging around with our friends Aaron and Erika, when I noticed that Erika had the EXACT SAME PURSE AS ME! But wait....her purse's letters were etched with the letter "C" all over it.

"Erika?", I asked sheepishly. "What kind of purse do you own?"

"It's a Coach. Aaron bought it for me for Christmas."

I thought for a moment, and then after realizing I had actually purchased a Coach knockoff, and one that was clearly a knockoff at that, I sadly announced to everyone, " purse isn't a Gucci. Nor is it a Coach. It's a Goachy."

Lesson learned: Though you may be saving yourself thousands of dollars by buying the knockoff, be sure it's a darn good knock off before you go around showing off your prize. Haha!


P.S. I like my Goachy purse. Hehe!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

You can only fly under the radar for so long...

...Before they finally call you into Primary.

I (Jenni), have to say that I have successfully dodged a calling in Primary since I was 18. Okay, so I did serve as the substitute Primary pianist for one summer when I was home from college, but that was it.

I could be all fake and cutesy and say that it's all I ever wanted was to serve in Primary and blah blah blah....but that would be an absolute lie.

To be perfectly honest, I have always dreaded a calling in Primary. And amazingly enough I've always been really good at camoflauging myself from the Primary presidency's eye when they would scout around the ward for the next victim to replace the last teacher that ran away crying.

Ok so that is a bit harsh I know, and it probably really wasn't like that, but that is sort of how I perceived it.

But as you may or may not know, Will and I just moved into a brand new ward - which, I might add, happens to be a smaller ward than our last one and very eager to make us feel welcome by giving us new callings.

So a little background here - for some reason, in our last ward Will was able to fly by the entire year without a calling except for hometeacher. I was in Young Womens - which I really enjoyed and spent every Tuesday evening occupying my time with, as well as the occassional Sunday morning meeting. So when we moved into our new ward, I was curiously interested to see what calling WILL would be getting! Ha!

Three Sundays ago, Will and I were sitting in Sunday School when one of the Bishopric members comes in and taps Will on the shoulder and says "Can you meet by the Bishop's office after church?" I nudged him, gave him a raised eyebrow and a smile.

After church, I went to go find Will and when I did, just thought to ask "Hey do you think it would be okay for me to go with you?" and he said "Of course". So both of us went into the Bishopric member's office and I sat there, completely relaxed yet curious, as to what calling they were going to extend to my husband.

"On behalf of the bishopric, we would like to extend a calling to your wife, to serve in the Primary as a teacher." said Br. So-and-so.

I about fell off my chair. In fact I was speechless. I pointed to myself as if I needed confirmation that he actually meant me and not Will. I was sure that he did not mean me. Why did I not get tapped on the shoulder, and just Will? I was thoroughly confused. And the words in my head were coming across like in the movies when the actor is slowed down and their voice is really low in superslow motion saying "Nnnnnooooo....not....Primary!!!"

Will just looked at me like "Are you going to accept or not?". Thanks to my parents who successfully raised me to never say no to a church calling, I replied reluctantly, "Ok...but I have no clue what to do. I've never served in Primary."

With a short little pep talk about how I would be great and will be briefed by the Primary President, I was thanked, my hand was shaken and we were out the door.

I was still speechless. Will was almost about to laugh. I just gave him a dirty look and said "But...but...." and he just giggled.

So last Sunday was my debut as a Primary teacher to the 5 and 6 year olds. I have 9 of them in my class. I have taught piano to 8 year olds, but there is actually a pretty big difference in attention span between a 5 year old and an 8 year old, so I discovered.

I have to say....I actually had fun. (Shhhh don't tell anyone!)

I think I needed this calling - to remind me of the simple things in the Gospel, to reaffirm my own testimony and to learn things from a child's perspective once again. Those 2 hours in Primary flew by so fast, and my little kids were pretty good (except for one of them hitting the other with her dirty socks). I'm actually looking forward to next Sunday's lesson.

So I might not get to really know any of the Relief Society sisters in my new ward or socialize with grownups, but who cares. Sometimes it's just really nice to be around little people who love you, don't judge you, listen to you and trust you and just want to be around you. And besides, I can remember back to my own Primary teachers when I was a little girl and how much they meant to me. I hope that I can be that for these kids as well.

(This was me when I was 5, and my puppy named Yogi. He was a cocker spaniel mix and ended up really big and shaggy and lost all cuteness about 4 months later - LOL.)

Now I'm just waiting for Will's calling to come and find him....(big grin). And just cuz he still hasn't gotten one - I'm going to embarrass him and put a picture of him in here as well when he was around 5. (I think he is soooo cute! I hope our kids look just like him).


P.S. Will promises to write a blog too real soon, so it's not all just me. :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ahhh, The Great Outdoors...

We finally found some time this past weekend to escape to one of our favorite past-times: Camping.

But first I have to clarify. There are TWO different kinds of camping:

1) Princess camping
2) Camping camping

If you didn't know that there were two different kinds of camping, then chances are...You're a princess.

I am, at heart, a princess camper. I enjoy knowing that my nearest neighbor is only 10 feet from me and that I'm not surrounded by complete and utter darkness at night and left to the bears and cougars. I prefer knowing that the registration booth is only a paved loup away, and that if I get a little dirty, so are the showers. I also enjoy having all of our camping food in a nifty little cooler, having our airmatress that we can blow up thanks to our battery powered air-blower.

Will, is ALL about camping camping. "Princess camping? What is THAT?! You mean all you have to do is swipe your VISA card and they will deliver firewood to your campsite???" Will atually didn't even know that you could reserve campsites at state parks and camp and have such modern conveniences until a few years ago.

But this past weekend, we went camping the manly way: Camping camping.
We strapped on backpacks that are built to carry up to 50 - 60 lbs. All of our food fit inside, was either freeze-dried or granola. There were no showers where we went - only the icy cold glacier lake if you're brave enough. And you can't drive there. You must hike in - 3 miles in, 3 miles out. And your nearest neighbors are in fact, bears and cougars. (luckily ours were our friends Aaron and Erika).

So the four of us, after getting a late start Friday night after work, hiked up into a lake in the Cascades, pitched our tents, ate our scrumptous dinner of freeze-dried-just-add-boiling-water Chilly and Hawaiin Chicken, and went to sleep under a vast sky of the most brilliant stars you've ever seen.

(Erika and I soaking our feet in the lake....Brrrrrrr!)

(Aaron sunbathing upon the rocks)
(And Will sunBURNING upon the rocks)

P.S. This was not my first backpacking trip, and it was by far the easiest. Last summer Will and I backpacked 10 miles into a tiny lake in the middle of the Olympic Mountains, and I also backpacked for 2 weeks in the mountains with my grandparents, who have both been avid backpackers for 25 years.
But I still prefer the princess camping. :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Visit with Niece Elena

Sometimes my parents invite one of their grandkids to come solo and spend a week with them in the summertime. It was Elena's turn, and so we went up to visit her while she was there.  

She was quite the little dancer, and enjoyed dancing while I played the violin.

I Love My Money-Managing Husband

I don't know how most couples manage their finances, but Will and I have a budget that we adhere to on a bi-monthly basis.

Within that budget, we also set aside an "allowance" for the each of us to use on whatever we want to. I usually blow mine as soon as I get it on clothes or whatnot. But Will, on the otherhand....he will invest his in the stock market so that it doubles or triples in no time at all. He has the most amazing control over his spending - like nothing I've ever seen before.

So for the last year, he was actually saving his 'allowance' for a toy he'd had his eye on for a very long time: a kayak.

TWO KAYAKS, actually ($$$$ ca-ching, ca-ching). You might think "What is so miraculous about that?" Well, hello, our personal allowance is only $30 every 2 weeks. Now do the math and consider just how long he had to save....LOL

And get this:

To pay for his "investment" (Don't worry, I also had to ask him how kayaks were an "investment" as well), he now rents them whenever we aren't using them.

And then here I am, shaking my head because I'm ever unceasingly put to shame by his finance skills over my own (is there any way I could rent out my clothes? LOL).

Here is his creative Craigslist ad - I got a kick out of it:

It's time to cool off and enjoy some of this beautiful weather. What better way to do that then by exploring our breathtaking waterways.

Have you been thinking of buying a Kayak? Here's your chance to own one for the day, weekend, or until you decide you want one for yourself. Take it out for a paddle and see if a Kayak is in your future.

What destination do you want to explore today? Try paddling along houseboats, and under skyscraper shadows along Lake Union. Explore the many parks and wildlife areas with the abundant lakes and calm rivers surrounding us. Soaking in a sunset with a paddle around Alki beach is a great date idea. Head up to the San Juan Islands for the weekend and explore all the inlets and bays.

So many people I have talked to have always wanted to try kayaking but never have because it's not a cheap sport to buy all the equipment to find out you don't like it as much as you thought. These are my personal kayaks that I bought for recreational use for my family. They are great entry level recreational touring kayaks for day paddling. I figured there are plenty of people out there that would crave the experience of paddling that's why I offer my kayaks for rent when we are not using them.

Just swing on by and I'll show you how to load them onto your car. They are extremely lightweight and fit on 95% of all cars (not the best for a convertible, and other random shaped cars).

If you're not sure where to put them in the water, I can point you to a few great local places depending on what you are looking for.

All equipment that is needed will be included in your Rental:
-Over 10 foot long sturdy & lightweight Pelican Sit-in Kayak w/padded adjustable seat & foot pads
-Fully Adjustable Paddle
-Type III certified paddling life vest
-Water repellant spray skirt to keep you and your gear dry when paddling
-Temporary vehicle roof carriers that fit 95% of all vehicles will let you go where no kayak has gone before, or just down to your nearest watering hole.
-All self rescue equipment incase your daring adventure turns upside down.

Here's your chance to do all this at rates less then what rental shops will charge for an hour:
-$25 per day per Kayak (2 Kayaks available)
-One Rental Day is considered any day you have the Kayak more than 12 hours (minimum 1 day rental)
-Discounts offered for rentals over 2 days.

Let me know what days you would be interested in. Weekends fill up fast. Give it a try! You know you want to! Email me and let me know what days you want to have fun! Pick up location is at the south end of Lake Washington near Ikea.

Now he's only had this ad posted for 4 hours and he's already rented them out for the weekend, AND has about 13 more booked. WOW. LOL

Friday, July 6, 2007

Road Rules

We work too much.

Between the two of us, we've managed to squeeze in 5 jobs. Not that we ever really intended spread ourselves that thin, but it's just how things have "worked" out. Will is up to 3 jobs - Estimator, Real Estate Agent and part-time maintenance man at the complex that we manage and reside at. Jenni is holding steady at 2 - managing the complex full time and being a professional musician.

Fortunately, we were able to take a much needed vacation this past week. Will was able to take an entire week off of work, and Jenni's summer intern covered for her in her absense. Isn't it crazy that you work a full year so that you can accumulate 1 week's worth of vacation time? I propose that America adopt a more relaxed lifestyle like the European's do. Naptime in the afternoon, at least 1 month of vacation time every year, and close the office by 3pm.

So...the whole beginnings of this trip started out with a stripper who has been driving our car for the past 3 years in Vegas.

No, we're not joking.

Just before we got married, I (Jenni) decided to sublease my brand new 2004 VW Jetta out instead of making the payments on it. Will had a car that was fully paid for, so why not? Well, we found a company that takes care of subleasing your car out for you. Somewhere in that first year we lost contact with the subleasing contractor, had no idea where my car was, and later found out the company went belly up.

Fortunately, the person driving my car was honest enough to call VW and find me and tell me he had my car. He was in Vegas and it was his girlfriend (the stripper) who had been driving the car. 2 years and a nearly-over 4 year lease plan later, the stripper decided that unless she "had a really good month", she wouldn't be able to buy the car as planned.

Enter Will and Jenni's vacation.

So last week, we flew down to Vegas to pick up the car and drive it back to Seattle. I have to admit, I was a teensy-weensy bit excited to see my car again. The beautiful charcoal grey finish, power windows, leather and chrome dash, 8-speaker stereo system, cruise control (all things our Kia lacks)...I couldn't wait to drive it again.

Vegas was hot....110 degrees hot. And two detailed cleanings, an oil change, complete disinfectant and upholstry shampooing, and dent repair later...the car was driveable. Fortunately the condoms we found in the backseat were unopened. I don't even want to know...

Here is a fine dent in my baby:

After a fun night in Vegas at The Paris, we headed to LA.

We then headed to LA and stayed with Will's Uncle Kevin and Aunt Ellen. We went to Disneyland (the castle was much smaller than I remember it being). We also toured Beverly Hills, went to Malibu and up the CA coastline. And I thought Seattle traffic was horendous...

(Will smiling it up on the Jungle Cruise ride. You know he's lovin' it.)

(Jenni in line for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland)(Will, the hamburger connoisseur, not so impressed with his Disneyland burger.)

We then headed up to San Francisco, up through the Redwoods, and the California Coast. I loved San Francisco! They have fir trees AND palm trees. (I've always complained that Seattle needed to plant some palm trees).
(A trolley in San Francisco)

(below: Jenni at home on beach at Crescent City, California).
(Us in front of the Palace of Fine Arts)

(Jenni by a column in the Palace of Fine Arts)(Have you ever seen anything so beautiful? It's like out of a fairytale)

Eventually we made our way over to Eastern Oregon - where Will grew up. We were able to go through the tiny town of Paisley, Oregon - population 200. We stopped in at the local diner for some milkshakes, and fortunately we were able to catch the town mechanic to fix our flat tire that we obtained while travelling over gravel roads (the only roads over the mountains to Paisley!).

(This is the high school that Will graduated from. Class of 1995 - how many in his graduating class? Nine! The high school was also the junior high.)

(Will standing in front of their old home in Chiloquin, Oregon. It's now a Bed & Breakfast. We tried to get a room for the night, but they were booked. A disappointed Will said "I know how many rooms there are in that house, they could put us in the basement!")

(We also made it to Crater Lake - the deepest lake in the United States and the 7th deepest fresh water lake in the world. Something around 1,900 feet deep! And the water color was sooooo blue - almost turquoise like Hawaii water.)

We ended the trip by swinging to my grandparents home in Pendleton, Oregon and then making it home in time for us both to get to work by noon. So back to work it is.
We'll just keep working so we can afford the vacations. :)
Till next time,
Will and Jenni

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Missing Your Mark

This is pretty funny. This was Will and Daniel goofing off at Whistler earlier this year.