Agree to Disagree

I don’t think there is anyone in the whole world who is as similar to me as they are different from me. We are alike, we are unalike. Yet, somehow, both these differences and these similarities draw us together, bind us as friends.

Today is the 35th birthday of my best friend, Elena. Lane. Today, we are in her car, driving to Green Bay, to see a country music concert. Jake Owen and The Cadillac Three. Just a couple years ago, she wouldn’t have gone to a country concert (excepting when she went with me to see Christian Kane in 2009–that wasn’t for the concert, that was for me). She didn’t like country music. I did. But now she does and it is another thing to draw us together.

I’ve told the story before, of how I did not like her when we met and how I grew to love her for exactly who she is. It’s just an example. The things that separate us, the things we do not share, that is all I could see of her. But once I got to know her, it was the things that we share, love of books, love of reading, love of fiction, love of Dean Winchester, love of good looking men on television, love of movies, love self analysis, love of intellectual thought, love of cheeseburgers–these are the things that connect us, that thread our lives together, that make us best friends.

But then, we will discuss something and disagree, often, and she doesn’t like to argue and debate. I do. And so she says, “let’s just agree to disagree.” It drives me crazy. I don’t WANT to agree to disagree. I want to disagree and loudly until we’ve reached a point where we can agree or kill each other trying. That’s me. That’s not her.

It’s how we’re different.

It’s how we’re alike.

It’s the things about her that make up who she is, those are the things that I love. It’s that she overpacks and takes things too seriously and thinks I’m funnier than her and depends on me to find her books and never remembers what she’s read and still sighs over Dean Winchester’s perfection and puts up with my obsessive need to talk all the time and likes the culture of drinking but doesn’t really like to drink and is super flexible but wholly stubborn and can crack me up like no one else. These are the things of her. The things that make me so damn happy that she is my best friend.

It’s her birthday. We’re on our way. Jake Owen better rock our respective worlds.

Happy birthday, Lane. Thanks for being such a wonderful friend.


Thirty Five – Part V

Yep, five separate posts just to detail all my celebrations. Anyone else think I’m a little overboard? No? Me neither.

The festivities came to a close on the night of my actual birthday. I had sent an email to all my friends, asking them to meet me out for drinks at RayJs. RayJs used to be my bar, but I so rarely go out anymore that it has now become a thrill. My sister took care of reserving tables for us, right in the party area, near the dartboards. And she decorated with balloons.

My family was there, Kelly and Mark, Elena (my chauffeur), Niki, Frodo, and the Amys. It was a great turnout. Most of the rest of this post will be photo heavy.

Me with my sister.

Kelly and me, wearing the same shirt.


With my mommy.

Brother Zack (yep, he works there now!)

Family photo. I do love this. We don’t do these nearly often enough. So thank you to whomever suggested it (Kel, was it you? I think you took the photo…but I don’t remember, actually).

Lane and me. (And yes, many of these seem a little blurry, the lighting in there is horrible for photos, plus my new camera is a lot harder to use than my old one).

Ooh, how I love this photo. From L-R Niki, Amy Blonde, Amy Red, Me, Frodo. My GW peeps.

This was so dorky/cute. I was sitting at the table and my dad came up and put his arm around my mom and then HE said, “take a picture of us”. He NEVER says that. That could possibly have been the first time in his 60 years he has ever said that. So, I did and he dorked out, as usual.


Elena took a selfie, which cracked me up. Still does, actually. When I was uploading, I didn’t remember she did that and I laughed out loud.

Yet another shot of the people whose job it was to turn me into adult. Explains a lot, right?

I think Lane took this. Wow, I look drunk there. I was, I assume, but I really look it.

My mom, with me and Kel, I really like this shot, too. It’s so cute. The last one of the three of us I believe was at my 30th.

Yep, five years ago.
Me, Mom, and Kelly

And we end with the greatest gift of all. Kelly was the big winner this year, which is saying something because I got some seriously amazing gifts this year. But I actually gasped so loud in the busy, loud, crowded restaurant, that strangers were turning around to see what happened. True story.

I still get giddy when I look at this.


Yes, it’s true, she got me a wine glass etched with Christian Kane’s FACE. I’m blown away. She and I might have to start a no gift policy because I don’t know how she will ever top this. Unless she actually gets me Christian Kane. Hmm…maybe we’ll keep the gifts in place, just in case. Also, I swore there was a picture of her and I where I was holding up the glass so you could see it, but I can’t find it. Anyone have it on a cell phone maybe?

And that’s all she wrote. Weeks of celebrating, ushering me into the back half of my 30s. Thank you so much to all my friends and family who turned out to celebrate with me. Love you all more than I could possibly express. And I’m pretty good with words.

Oh, and Mark, I did kick your ass at trivia. Deal with it.

Happy 35th to me!

Thirty Five – Part IV

Can you believe it is my actual birthday already?

For this day, I decided to have lunch with my family. My mom was making her famous corned beef and cabbage, which she makes for St. Patty’s day, but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it on the holiday, so my birthday it was. Simon was going to be there to celebrate, and I invited Kelly and the kids to join us.

Lunch was excellent, as always. The kids were a bit thrown by the food, it was not food any of them are used to eating, but they still did well. Then we did some presents. Victoria, Christian, and Brecken got me a beautiful purple watch. I haven’t worn a watch in years, so it was surprising, but I also don’t have one, so it was great. I’ve worn it far more than I expected to!

My amazing mother MADE me beautiful wine glasses. She hand painted them in different colors. They are so me. If I had seen them in a store, I would have probably bought them.
My sister and her family got me a gorgeous silver bracelet from Stella and Dot. It, too, went perfect with my planned evening outfit.

Then, of course, I wanted photos with the kids for my birthday, like last year.
Me Kids Edit

And since they were there, I wanted pictures with Kelly’s kids as well. I don’t know if I have any of me with all three of her kids…but I do now.
(Notice B and I coordinated the rocking striped look!)

And I love this photo, me with my only niece…and Simon in the background.

My sister took this of Brecken because very little is as cute as a baby sucking its thumb. I’ve said this to Kelly over and over again and how much I wanted a pic of him sucking his thumb. But she had never given me one, for whatever reason. I think she thought she had. Anyway, that comment got me an addition to my birthday present.

My birthday cake (the second one!).

What I enjoy about that photo is the two lonely sippy cups in the picture.

And then after everyone had left, it was just me and my mom and Simon hanging out. I asked for a photo with my little buddy because he’s getting so big and we don’t really do that anymore. And that is another treasure from my birthday experience.

(and you can see my new purple watch in that picture)

So the rest of the afternoon was just chatting, talking, and hanging out. It was so relaxed and low key, I absolutely loved it.

Boy, even writing about all my celebrations is exhausting….imagine how I felt living them!

Thirty Five – Part III

This part was my celebration with Elena. She and I had very special plans. Back when I was in grad school, living by myself in DC, I met this girl who was obsessed with the show Veronica Mars. I had never seen it, but had an excess of time on my hands (I didn’t work while living in DC) so I checked it out. I quickly understood why she liked it so much. It’s a smart and savvy show. Unfortunately, it was cancelled, abruptly after the third season and left wide open with no actual conclusion. They always talked about one day doing a VM movie, but as the years passed….

Well, after a record setting kickstarter campaign, they funded it last year and released it to limited theaters just in time for my birthday this year. Last year, after the campaign, I added VM to my tv dates with Lane and she rushed to complete the series just in time for the movie release.

We had to go to an AMC theater to see it. There is one of those about 2 minutes from her house…Roseville, but I don’t like that theater and it is so expensive. I browsed online to find that the Coon Rapids AMC was offering discount tickets to the show, along with DreamLounger and reserved seating. Um, hallelujah? We bought tickets and I reserved two seats for us.

We decided to go to dinner at this place called Patricks? Billys? I seriously cannot remember the name of it. Anyway, it was in the city of Anoka and we were off on an adventure.

Oh, look at that. Apparently Billy’s. And now I remember thinking we should take a photo of ourselves just so I could remember that. I’m so smart.

And then it was off to Coon Rapids to the theater. And they had those crazy new touch screen pop dispensers. I honestly was stymied by it. I couldn’t figure out how to get pop from that machine. Luckily the girls using the machine next to me were kind enough to teach me. Crazy machines. So high tech. And slightly annoying to pay like $5 for a 16 oz pop that I have to serve myself. Basically paying for the cup.

And here we are in front of the theater marquee. It’s harder to read than I thought it would be.

Then in our dream loungers.

Yes, we’re pretending to sleep…and yes, she is peeking.

And the movie.


It was awesome. Can’t recall the last time I had so much fun at a movie. Knowing every person in there was a fan of the show…we all loved it already. It was a little like seeing a movie with all your friends…everyone in there. We were talking and chatting with strangers. Cheering for the movie to begin. Applauding when it was over. Crazy. And fun.

Elena and I (and many others) actually GASPED loudly when Logan first appeared on screen. It was priceless. A wonderful way to celebrate my birthday.

And then when we got back to her house, I got loads of gifts. A beautiful necklace that she MADE for me. This was weird, because as I was driving to her house that day, I was planning my outfit for my actual birthday and worrying because I didn’t think I had the right necklace for it. Then she gave me one…and it was perfect. And she had no idea what I was wearing. She’s a little psychic like that. She did the exact same thing a few years ago…got me the perfect necklace for a birthday outfit. How does she always know?

She also got me a wall hanging for my entry way that is so incredibly perfect I couldn’t have picked better myself. And beautiful decorative plates that still need a home, I’m working on that. And black lentils…which was just funny. But the best was she filled the bottoms of the gift bags with candy. I never thought of that, but what a great way to make a gift extra special.

It was a terrific and memorable way to continue ringing in my birthday.


Thirty Five – Part II

During the week of my birthday, I had several lovely surprises. A community partner at work came in and brought me these beautiful flowers. I actually just threw them out on Sunday. They lasted over two weeks! I had to refill the vase of water twice…these were some amazingly fresh flowers.

I like the second photo because you can see the new clock Elena bought me for Christmas. The most perfect clock in the entire world…so incredibly glad I waited for the right item.

A coworker brought me a birthday gift of a water feature. It’s a little fountain that sits on my desk. It is beautiful and tranquil, the only flaw? It’s a huge battery suck. It eats through an entire set of batteries in about 40 hours. Yep, needs new batteries every WEEK. So now it sits on my desk without being on and I still enjoy it.

Then I stopped by my sister’s house to drop off a balloon for the kids. I got a cute photo of me and them in their jammies as an early birthday gift. And Arionna asked me what I was wearing to her birthday party, which was two weeks after mine. I asked what she wanted me to wear. “A red dress.” More on that later.

Then Kelly had requested to take me out to birthday lunch on Thursday. She was on spring break and was putting the kids in daycare to have a free day for mom. I decided to take a half day at work and join her for the afternoon. We met for lunch, then went and did some shopping. I got new shoes at DSW. These ones here. In the orange. We also hit Lane Bryant so I could get a new shirt for my birthday. Kelly got one, too. Actually, the exact same shirt, but in different colors. It was an amazing afternoon.

This second photo is me driving home after my shopping afternoon. I text this photo to my cousin in Alabama. Sara and company think 60 degrees is cold. I captioned the photo “it is 48 degrees. Driving with sunroof open and windows down, wearing a t shirt. Thought you’d get a kick out of it.” She did. (And Sara, notice how I’m not chastising you for NOT sending me my very favorite birthday video this year….)

As a matter of fact, considering how low key this week was, it was the perfect way to celebrate a big birthday.

And that covers the miscellany. And yes, this is two full posts before we’ve even reached my actual birthday.

Thirty Five – Part I

Well, it’s official, I’m 35. I’m feeling pretty good about this year. The festivities for this year were unusual. We began the week prior with a birthday dinner. Tom and Mindy hosted, Elena, Niki, and Finn were the other guests.

Mindy made an amazing meal, tarragon chicken with harissa sauce and braised black lentils.


It was as beautiful as it was delicious.



Me with the little lads. Lewie was determined not to look, though you can clearly tell he IS smiling. Finn and Clay were much more cooperative.

Here’s a shot of the adults:



Clay was kind enough to take these for us.

Then he asked if he could take some more.

Here’s just the ladies:


Yes, we look a little weird….

My amazing birthday cake that Mindy made and Lewie decorated.

Then Clay took this one of Finn and me, one of my favorite birthday photos.

Then we wanted a better ladies pic, so we enlisted Tom to help us out.

After that, it was game time, we just sat around and chatted and played board games. I love that Clay is big enough to play adult trivia games, but is still little boy enough to sit on his daddy’s lap.


It was an amazing experience, full of laughter, friends, good food, good drink, and shots of whiskey. What more could a girl ask for?

***Edited to ADD*** I cannot believe I forgot to mention this as it was my favorite part of the night. Clayton, just shy of 10 years old, plays the trombone at school. He was chosen for the trombone because he has the longest arms. Anyway, I knew he played, but he would never play for me. But that day, for my birthday, he had gone online and printed the sheet music for Happy Birthday and then, in front of audience, never having played it before, he played the song for me. He did amazing. Then he played it again and everyone sang along. It was so special to me, I don’t want to forget it. I wanted to record it, but I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I just sat and listened and enjoyed. Thanks, Clay! I loved that gift from you.


Happy Birthday, Kelly Jo!

Today, on your 35th birthday we are going to celebrate by listing 35 things that were created AFTER you. So, without further ado, here are 35 things that you are older and more awesome than….

35. Plinko

Invented in 1983.

34. Roller blades

Invented in 1979.

33. Ryan Lochte

Born in 1984.

32. The Moonwalk

Invented in 1982.

31. Sweet Valley High

First published in 1983. Did you love them as much as I did?

30. Hooter’s

No, seriously. We are older than Hooter’s. God Bless America

29. Cabbage Patch Kids

Created by Xavier Roberts in 1982. I think that might actually be a picture of my Andy….

28. Cell phone

Was first marketed in 1979…an original ad.

27. Disposable contact lenses

And, yes, that photo creeps me out. First invented in 1987. When did you get your first pair?

26. The Disney Channel

First launched in 1983. Imagine, if that hadn’t happened, Miley Cyrus might have never been famous. Honorable mention to Miley Cyrus…

….born 1992.

25. J. Crew

Somehow this retailer has only been around for 30 years…

24. Viagra

Believe it or not, until 1998, men had to get erections the old fashioned way.

23. Sony Walkman

TPS-L2 headphone Stereo Walkman

Invented in 1979. Hard to believe that this was the epitome of cool. And the precursor to the iPod…

22. Macaulay Culkin

For some reason it’s weird to me that we’re older than Kevin McAllister. Born in 1980.

21. Tom Cruise going crazy

Remember when he was the coolest guy alive?

Oh, yeah. And long being a staple of our friendship, he had to make the list.

20. My Little Pony

Invented in 1983. And now popular again, Arionna loves them…above is her favorite, Rainbow Dash.

19. Garbage Plates

Also known as a sampler platter. Technically, these have been around a lot longer than you, but the name “garbage plate” was not trademarked until 1992. So I’m including it, because it’s your birthday, and you love the sampler platter. Or garbage plate.

18. Microsoft Word

Released the first version in November of 1983. What on earth did people use to write before that? Oh yeah…paper.

17. Mario Brothers

My brothers and I used to play this on our original Nintendo. Some of my very favorite childhood memories. Oddly, this year there were STILL kids dressed up as Mario and Luigi. I guess they are still cool after 30 years.

16. Baby Got Back

Weirdly, it seems wrong that we were old enough to listen to this when it came out in 1992. But stranger still is thinking that this song is old enough to drink.

15. The minivan

  Hard to believe that this didn’t exist until Dodge invented it in 1983. And now, some of us can’t live without one….
14. World Wide Web
was not invented until 1989. Sometimes my parents will tell me how when they were kids color television didn’t exist. But, luckily, I can say “ha! at least you HAD a tv, when *I* was a kid there was no INTERNET!” I was 15 before I ever surfed the web, I remember doing it for the first time. You?
13. Bon Jovi
They didn’t form until 1983…sometimes I’m sad that I lived the first four years of my life without hearing them…
12. Nicotine patch
patented in 1985, but they didn’t hit stores until 1992.
11. Compact Disc
Compact disc.svg
Can you believe it? We used cassettes.
bonus picture there, just for you.
But, anyway, the CD was invented in 1982.
10. Text messaging
Yeah, until 1996, a year before we graduated high school, this was not an option. (and yes, that is a REAL text of ours..guess which one is you?)
9.  Air Jordan
Founded in 1984. I can think of dozens of boys who would show off their Jordans and pretend they could jump like that.
8. Guess Jeans
I think you had a pair…right? I did not. I always wanted a pair though.
7. Prince William
The most famous prince in the world, who will likely become King of England in our lifetime, was not born until 1982.
6. Forrest Gump
This movie was released in 1994. I can actually remember DRIVING to this movie, the first one ever. Granted, I only had my permit, so my mom was with, but I remember. And it was July…so you couldn’t quite drive yet. As a matter of fact, only a couple months after this release, we would meet Jesus.
5. Justin Bieber
Yes, yes I did. I put the Biebs on the list. He wasn’t born until 1994…which means…technically, we’re old enough to be his *cough* mother.
And also, because if not for teen boy idols like…..
then the Biebs wouldn’t be the success he is today. Plus, it was another excuse to insert a Jordan Knight reference for your pleasure. I’m all about you today….
4. D.A.R.E
DARE was created in 1983. Quick, Kel, what does it stand for?
Did you get it?
Drug Abuse Reistance Education. And unless I’m nuts, we were in DARE together in the 5th grade…right?
3. New Kids on the Block
Formed in 1984. Yeah, I know, you expected them to be #1, but I like to keep you on your toes. Plus, this is not news, but #2 was…at least to me. And #1…well, you’ll see.
However, they are #3 because I’m grateful. This band gave me a lifelong friend, I’ll always be loving you forever, because of them.
2. The Chicken McNugget
Seriously, this one SHOCKED me. How in HELL can we be older than chicken nuggets? They were invented in 1983.
Are you ready?
Here it comes….
1. Olivia
That’s right. Born in 1979, you are, technically, 4 months and 1 week older than me. And that is not one of my favorite pictures of me, but since I am in YOUR chair, reading to Team 214, I thought it was the perfect way to tell you how much I love you, no matter how old you get.
Happy Birthday to my “oldest” friend in the world, who will never be old, so long as she listens to New Kids on the Block.
Love you, Kel!
And, just because, here are a few of my favorite Kelly posts.
I was going to do 5 posts….but she’ll appreciate it more if there are only four.
Happy 35!

Thirty Five Years

These fine people:

have been married for 35 years, today. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Let’s do a little comparison, shall we?


Average cost of a new house? $43,400

Average cost of a new car? $5,010

Average cost of a gallon of gas? $0.59 (That is 59 CENTS, people!)

Average cost for a movie ticket? $2.00

A stamp cost $0.13

A gallon of milk cost $1.65

Gerald Ford was the 38th President

Apple Computers was founded

An Apple computer would have cost $1,298 with a base of 4 kB of RAM


Average cost of a new home? $266,400

Average cost of a new car? $29,217

Average cost of a gallon of gas? $3.78

Average cost for a movie ticket? $9.00

A stamp costs $0.44

A gallon of milk costs $2.63

Barack Obama is the 44th President

Apple Computers ranks #1 on Forbes’ Fortune 500 list and is considered the best company in America.

An Apple iMac, the closest comparable computer today, starts at a base price of $1,199 (cheaper!) and begins with 6 MB of RAM *as a comparison, 6 MB is equivalent to 6,144 kB*


Other things that have changed?

Well, they have four children and two grandchildren. They live in their second home. And they are, quite simply, the best people that I know. I love you both.


Happy Anniversary! To 35 more, wonderful, years.