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Valentine’s Day weekend was wonderful.  Friday I got off work at 3:oo PM (because Monday was a holiday!), and then we headed 50 minutes West to Clarksville, Tennessee, to see one of my all time favorite bands – – Sanctus Real.  I saw Sanctus for the first time almost four years ago at a festival in Illinois called Agape Fest.  It was right between albums two and three.  I loved them instantly.  They were great musicians, good performers, and their music stood out to me.  Plus, their first album cd case shows you how to make a great foil hat, and how can you not be cooler than that?

jg  mw

sr2  sr1

Anyhoo, I had not seen them since (besides three songs at Winter Jam a couple years ago), and album three and four were both great, so I have been dying to see them again.  Clarksville was close enough for me that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  The added bonus was that Jason Gray was opening up for them (and Matthew West), and we’re big fans of Jason, too.  Jeff has had the opportunity to interview him and keep in touch, so it was great for them to finally reconnect and me meet him.  He has such a great story, is a funny guy and is just super talented.  It was just him, a guitar and his great voice, and we didn’t think he needed anything else up there with him.

Saturday, on actual Valentine’s Day, Jeff and I swapped gifts and he brought me breakfast in bed (thank you McD’s for the Egg McMuffins).  Jeff got me beautiful tulips (my favorite!) and Whitman’s chocolate (sooo good!).  I got Jeff his second love – Colbie Caillat.  It was only because I am so confident that I’m his first love that I was able to give him that. 

tulips

colbie

Then Jeff’s friend from Indy and the lady hung out with us most of the day.  Felipe (aka Phil) was a friend Jeff made while studying abroad in Spain during the fall semester of his junior year of college.  Jeff has stayed in touch with several from this time in his life, and I understand why by the stories that he tells.  What’s funny about Felipe is that until about a week before he came, I thought he was French.  I had never ever heard him referred to as Phil.  Sure, I hear Dustin and Jeff go by Diego and Pepe all the time, but I know them.  So I knew better, that those were just Spanish names.  I guess I should’ve known better about Felipe, but I had never heard the name Phil.  Ever.

So, Phil lives and works in Indy at a bank (he doesn’t actually live in the bank) and as a lacrosse coach.  So it’s not too far that a visit to Nashville was totally possible.  They stayed with some of his other friends, but left Saturday to us. And I’m so glad Michelle came with him, because even though Jeff is really my valentine, you’d think with the way Felipe and Pepe said hello that they’d be the couple… which left me and Michelle.

vday09

Seriously, though, they were great company.  We had a blast showing them some sights of the city, playing Mad Gab and drinking expensive soda (just so we could have “rights” to the table we were occupying) at a rotating bar in the Opryland Hotel.  We had dinner at Cabana, where Felipe made our waitress work for every penny of her tip.  If only she could’ve really produced that volcanic chocolate cake with an exploding center…  And we finished the evening off with gelato.  The day was full of stories from Spain, and even though I’ve heard many several times, it was great to hear them tag-teamed with Felipe this time and even hear a few that didn’t sound so familiar.  If it’s one thing that my husband can guarantee, it’s a great, sometimes unbelievable story.  And 99.9% of them really are true, people.

So thanks to Phil and Michelle for making Valentine’s 2009 rock, and we hope to see them again soon!

My apologies for being MIA…  my computer has been in the shop and our Internet has been down at the apartment.

Whoever was the first person to put chocolate and peanut butter together, I would really like to meet you.

Jeff spent the first week of February in Georgia for work – – lots and lots of meetings.  He’s kind of a big deal, and I tend to forget it.  After all, he’s just my Jeffery, and I see him work at home (in PJs sometimes!) and not in an office environment where his “status” would be a bit more obvious.  Anyway, I think this was the most meetings he’s ever sat in, and I think I did pretty good at remembering when he was occupied (and considering the time difference, too)… unlike last time.  Ask him about his cell phones, yes two of them, going off in the middle of a meeting the previous time he was in Gainesville.  He leaves his ringer on and yet I get blamed for the “interruption” and impromptu jam session (his personal cell phone has an awesome rock song ring tone).  Right, of course.  That would absolutely be my fault, and I am most definitely the irresponsible one here.  Whatever.

So… Jeffery, the mister straight forward that he is, sure did a lot of dropping hints about buckeyes while in Georgia.  Do you know what these are?   These are like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups made in your own kitchen.  These are like little drops of heaven.  These are the best things ever!  I got at least one email (more like four) every day from him that at some point referenced these delicious yumminesses, and I learned that they are worth more to him than, well… his health (heard about that salmonella scare down here?).  And so I decided to assume my role as the awesome wife that I am and surprise him with them when he came home that Friday night.

buckeyes1  buckeyes2

buckeyes3  buckeyes4 

Here are the things I learned:

1)  Contrary to what the recipe says, a food processor is not necessary to mix the peanut butter, butter and powered sugar.  A hand mixer will do just fine.

2)  The recipe calls for a ridiculous amount of powered sugar.  I’d venture to say that it could be made with less… I will try next time.

3)  Unless I am missing the magic baker’s touch (which it’s very possible that I am – – I don’t consider myself “gifted” in the kitchen), it is impossible to dip the peanut butter balls in the melted chocolate after only refrigerating them.  Next time I will freeze them.

4)  Melting chocolate chips in the microwave is so easy (when done in small segments as suggested).  I don’t know what they were talking about… double broiler not needed.

So even though my buckeyes looked more like chocolate peanut butter mountain tops rather than buckeyes, they tasted just as good.  So forgoing presentation to save the peanut butter balls (I had to pour chocolate on top rather than dipping the peanut butter in the chocolate) did not hinder the amazing taste in any way.

After the hubby came back, I also purposed a dare to him.  Have you heard of the 25 cent Chicken McNuggets at McD’s?  See I love these things (but don’t eat them much), and I’ve always thought six was too little and ten too much.  So when they came out with this while Jeff was in Georgia, it made my day, week even.  We were going through drive-thru to get a drink, and I dared him to order just one.  Yes, just one, and he does not take dares lightly.  Not only did we get the “just one?” question from the speaker and the lady at the first window, but we also got the “you wanted just one nugget?” sarcastic comment from the lady at the second window when she gave us the bag.   I’m not joking, here’s the proof:

25nugget1

The weekend also included one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to.  One of my (former) co-workers married the love of her life on February 7th, and it was the cutest thing ever.  Both of their personalities totally shined through and so did their love for each other and the Lord.  Few things warm my heart more than seeing two people the the Lord has brought together celebrate their life and love in marriage.  And this one was no exception, light sabers and Converses (the men forwent traditional dress shoes) included.  I loved it.  Poor Jeff (my Jeff) had to go against his better judgement and “deface” a guitar.  Yes, folks, the guest book was a guitar, and I think it is one of the most cleverest things I have ever seen at a wedding.

  owens

So congrats Jeff and Heather, and many blessings on you in this next chapter of your life!

Jeff and I aren’t big football fans.  I loved high school games back in the day when I had to dance at half time, but professional football just isn’t our thing.  Although, being in Nashville with the Titans’ awesome, well start, to their season was pretty exciting.  Too bad it didn’t end as well as it began…

Anyway, despite all that, I never miss a Super Bowl.  Why?  Well, because they’re fun.  It’s an opportunity to be social, because someone is usually having a big shindig (thank you to the Faiths who have hosted all of us from church the last two years!).  And I usually think the commercials are funny (except for this year).  But…  the big reason is because I danced at Super Bowl XXXV.  Yea, the really bad one, where the Ravens slaughtered the Giants 34-7.

superbowl

Yep, there I am.  Seventeen and a senior in high school.  Because of American All-Star, who always did our dance camps in the summer before the school year started, I was able to perform during pre-game of Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.  Every year, they’d pick a handful from each team that did great during camp and would select them as All-Stars, and they would have the opportunity to travel somewhere overseas around Thanksgiving to perform somewhere.  And out of the hundreds of All-Stars chosen throughout the states, only 100 high school All-Stars  got picked to dance at the Super Bowl. 

I got picked as an All-Star in eighth grade.  That year they were going to London to dance at Disneyland.  The parentals thought I was too young to go, so I thought, “well maybe in high school.”  But, when I got into high school and was able to start dancing as a sophomore, I learned about the Super Bowl gig.  In junior high I never heard about it, because junior highers weren’t eligible.  But when I learned of this opportunity in high school, this became a dream and a goal.  Wow… to dance on national TV, what a gig!

As a junior, I got selected as an All-Star, my first time in high school.  My parents had told me that I could only pick one – – overseas or Super Bowl.  I knew my chances were pretty slim as a junior to get picked for the Bowl, but I held out.  Sure enough, I didn’t get it.  But there was always next year.

And then came the fall of 2000.  Dance camp had come and gone.  I was selected as an All-Star again that summer.  I think the trip was Berlin that year (I’m probably getting these all mixed up – – it’s been years!).  Part of me wanted to do it, because I knew this was it.  But I also knew that if I did go overseas, and then got picked for the Bowl, that I would be mad at myself for not holding out.

So I waited.

They had told us at camp that those selected for the Super Bowl would be notified, by mail, by the end of September.   August passed, and day after day in September passed.  I remember the last Friday of the month we had a Friday night football game.  A football game meant a quick run through of our routine on the field after school, then head home to get ready.  The handful of us that had been selected as All-Stars had been so nervous the last week, knowing that the month was so close to the end.  As of Friday’s practice, none of us had heard anything.

So we practiced, then I headed home.  I walked in, and in the middle of the entry room floor were some balloons and an envelope.  I paused, bent down, opened up the card from my parents, and inside was a letter from American All-Star!  I started screaming, jumping, crying, the whole bit.  This is the only time in my life I have reacted like a girl.  My parents came in laughing, and they proceded to show me that they’d hid the video camera.  So yes, this is all on tape (but I don’t know where it’s at this very moment, so don’t ask to see it!). 

So you can imagine the excitement and awkwardness that followed me to the game.  How do you ask everyone else if they got that letter?  Well, it wasn’t hard when it was written all over the others’ faces that got accepted!

So after the letter came videos for learning dances at home.  Then the week before the game in January, we all hopped on a plane to Tampa.  The week in Florida was crazy insane, boot camp really.  Practice after practice trying to get the dances together.  But we also got to play a bit, dance on one of the morning shows (don’t remember which one) and spent a day at Magic Kingdom and Busch Gardens. 

So it was so neat to watch the Super Bowl this year, because it was the same place I’d been.  They showed the field, they showed the tunnels, and I could say I’d been there!  I had danced on the 45 yard line in beach clothes to some cheesy girl band (they lip synced), watched girls dance to Styx (also lip synced) while I changed for “Roxanne” on the side lines, then came back out to dance to Sting (who actually sang!).  And I’ve heard “America the Beautiful” (sang by Ray Charles) and “The National Anthem” there (sang by the Backstreet Boys) while standing under the American flag we made out on the field.  And since I was stuck under it, holding up a piece, I didn’t think it was fair I couldn’t actually see them.  So I peeked, by watching the jumbo tron, only to see a big whole in the flag on the screen and actually see the camera zoom by me, only to put the two together and realize that was my hole! (yes, it was very obvious on TV, not me but the hole!).  Yep, that’s my claim to fame. 🙂

And because the head of American All-Star was also in charge of the half time show (back when MTV was still allowed to participate hahaha), she pulled strings and got us all in as part of “the crowd” that rushed the stage when ‘N Sync, Aerosmith, Mary J.  Blige and Britney Spears sang.  The best part was, I had the privilege of standing on the side that Britney came up, and I totally saw her trip up the stairs!

So… Super Bowl Sunday is a pretty big day for me every year.  Even though it’s not like it was (I’m not even sure American All-Star has anything to do with it anymore), it’s still a big deal.  This was a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after all.  And many might not understand.  Sure, they think it’s cool that I was on TV, and when I still wear my jacket and people notice, I get the “oh, that’s cool!” comments.  But most don’t understand that it was so much more than that.  It was one of the first dreams of my life to come true… and having had that, having worked for it and waited and leaped for it and actually been given it, it makes going after more dreams a bit easier.  And I’m thankful for that, because it’s those things that led me here to Nashville, led me to actually try to work in Christian music.  Had I not known that experience, I would’ve thought many of my dreams were too big.

Oh, and no, I didn’t actually get to see the game live.  When we weren’t changing out of our uniforms or in holding tanks waiting for halftime, we saw it on TVs just like most everyone else.  But I did get to meet all the performers and just happened to run into Rob Schneider backstage.