A Short Word on Politics

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 29, 2008 in Family Stuff, Uncategorized

I am not normally a political activist – I mean, I do listen to the news (mainly on NPR – I’m such a geek!), research the candidates and have voted in every election since I was old enough.

And this is not a political blog – I’m sure that there are others who can debate the issues with much more knowledge and passion than I.

However, I have been watching the Democratic National Convention all week with great interest.  I have been so impressed with the speeches given by Hillary and President Clinton and have come to greatly admire Joe Biden and his strength and commitment to his family.

And after listening to Barack Obama’s speech last night, I feel more strongly than ever that he should be our next president.

There – I said it!  That’s my political opinion – for whatever it’s worth.

Mike and I sat in silence for a moment after the speech was over and I had actual tears in my eyes, I was so moved.  We looked at each other and said, “How can he NOT win this election?!?!?!”

But we realize that there are those who don’t agree.

We saw one of those American citizens on the way home the other day. I was horrified when I saw an actual bumper sticker on the car in front of us that read, “Nuke their ass, steal their gas!”.

God help us if those who feel that way remain in power for another four years…

Let me add that I realize that is not the sentiment of most McCain supporters – he’s certainly an honorable man that has served his country well.  I have great respect for him – and that respect was echoed during the speeches given during the DNC this week (including Barack’s).

But there are still those who feel that “Nuke their ass, steal their gas!” sentiment so strongly that they would not only say it, but would wear it proudly on their car bumper for all the world to see.

I know American citizens are better than that…


Get Well, Ken!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 23, 2008 in Cards, Crafts

My brother had surgery this week – hope you’re feeling better, Ken – and I made him a quick masculine get-well card:



Our Own Runway Show

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 23, 2008 in Crafts, Family Stuff

Emily and I were excited to find a new item at Michaels – a Project Runway fashion doll kit!

As I may have mentioned, Project Runway is my favorite show – I don’t know who was more excited about the doll – Emily or ME (I think it was me)!

The kit has a paper doll, stencils to make different pieces of clothing, patterned paper and accessories like gems, sequins and trims.

Here is Emily’s first creation:


Emily LOVES to mix the patterns!

And here is mine:


How fun!  I love having a daughter!


Take a Hike

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 23, 2008 in Family Stuff, Our Goldendoodle Puppies, Today's Photo

We took advantage of the gorgeous weather with a hike in Ceres Park this week.  It’s only about a mile from our house, but I haven’t been there in YEARS. 

It’s not your typical park with a playground and picnic benches – instead, there are lots of hiking trails leading to a lake and beautiful clear stream.  I forgot how pretty it is back there…



We took the dogs along – Daisy loved swimming in the stream:


But Geddy wasn’t having any parts of it. I wish we could let Daisy off the leash, but prior experience tells me that she WILL make a run for it as soon as she’s free…


Thank You Card

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 21, 2008 in Cards, Crafts, Today's Photo

I had a chance to play with some of my new Stampin’ Up! products for the first time the other day.  I made a quick thank you card for Ray and Barbara in Eagle River, Alaska to thank them for hosting us in their home last week.



I used two of the new In Colors – Kiwi Kiss and Baja Breeze – I love this combination!  I can see using Kiwi Kiss with a LOT of other colors as well.

I also used a piece of Not Quite Navy cardstock and scalloped the edges with the new large scallop punch – so easy!

The flowers were stamped tone-on-tone with the Baja Breeze and then a few were embossed with white embossing powder.


A Glimpse Inside the Teenage Brain

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 21, 2008 in Family Stuff, Scrapbooks

Now that I’m the parent of a teenager (Seriously?!?! Am I really that old????), I am amazed at the lack of common sense that a child of that age possesses.

Apparently, scientific research has shown that teenager’s brains are not fully developed – especially the parts that handle logic and reasoning.  This leads to risky behavior – and apparently an extreme lack of common sense.

Case in point – we were having corn-on-the-cob for dinner the other night and I left a few ears in the pot of hot water on the stove so that it would stay warm.  Andrew (my 14 year old) went to grab an ear of corn out of the pot and instead of using the tongs that were on the counter, he reached into the pot with his bare hands! At which point he screamed that the water was hot – duh!

Remember the less-than-bright Vinnie Barbarino from the TV show Welcome Back Kotter?  That’s how Andrew’s been acting this summer…”What?”  “Where?” “Who?”

“Take what trash out?  Where do I put it?”

“I don’t know how to put dishes in the dishwasher [make a bed, mow the lawn, run the vacuum…].”

“We have a hamper?”

“Was that my iPod that went through the washing machine?”

“I’m supposed to flush the toilet after I go?”

“Where’s my cell phone [book, shoes, Nintendo DS, jacket, belt…]?”

Okay – that last one applies to most males I know, so I guess that’s not just the teenage brain…


Blogging The Recession

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 17, 2008 in Local Community

Is anyone else out there being hit hard by the recession?  Or am I the only one counting each and every penny we spend, hoping that this month we’re able to rob from Peter to pay Paul once again?

Kristen at Motherhood Uncensored (and I DO mean uncensored!) has decided to start a ‘blog the recession’ movement to help out those bloggers that get paid by their advertisers per hit.  I WISH I had advertisers…but I’d like to pass the word along anyway.


I was just reading through Kristen’s blog and I have to say that I love it – she’s saying the things all moms feel but aren’t quite so comfortable saying out loud.  Or posting online.  But God bless you, Kristen, for doing it anyway…and making me laugh.

So back to the recession…

The Torrence family is – as of the beginning of August – now on a VERY strict and painfully-detailed budget with a plan to pay off all those nasty bills that keep coming (and coming, and coming…) in 5 years.  Gulp…that sounds like a long time, doesn’t it?  But if we had just used this plan 5 years ago, we wouldn’t be where we are now – gotta start somewhere.

Our credit cards are gone.  It’s only cash from here on out.  And there’s not much of it, I’m afraid.  So there’s not going to be much ‘back-to-school’ shopping going on over here.  Here’s hoping the kids fit into most of their clothes from last year.  Stop growing, darn you all! (Kristen would have said it MUCH better than that!)

So help out some fellow bloggers and click through some links from her site…every little bit helps…


Home At Last!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 17, 2008 in Today's Photo, Uncategorized

Remind me NEVER to take a red-eye back from Alaska again!  The problem is that almost every flight back from Anchorage turns into a red-eye at some point because of the long distance and time difference. 

I have come to the realization that I am just not capable of sleeping on an airplane.  I was lucky enough to get upgraded to first class for my long leg from Anchorage to Chicago, but I still couldn’t sleep no matter what I tried.  It might have been the man snoring loudly next to me…or the fact that I was in the first row right behind the kitchen where the light stayed on all night and the flight attendants were buzzing around the entire flight…or the severe turbulence that we were in for what seemed like about an hour somewhere over Canada.  By the way, United Airlines has a cool new feature for control freaks like me – you can plug in your headphones and listen to communications between the plane and the air traffic controllers.  I listened in during the turbulence and got to hear all the details.

I certainly did appreciate the first class service – free drinks, a lovely fruit and cheese plate, a hot towel, a warm blanket…I just wish it also included a big fluffy pillow and most importantly, a bed where I could lay flat.

I really wish that I had also been upgraded to first class for the second leg…I ended up sitting in a row with an extremely odiferous older gentleman in the window seat.  Not only did he possess a certain odor about him, but he kept repeatedly and loudly burping (without apology) an even more offensive scent.  After we reached our cruising altitude, I nudged the poor girl in the center seat and said, “You wanna make a run for it – there are some empty seats behind us?!?!” – and so we did.  But even 5 or 6 rows back, you couldn’t escape the smell – at least the burping noises were obscured by the sound of the engines.

After we landed in Philadelphia, I was so excited to see one of my bags on the luggage carousel that I actually cheered and jumped up and down (that would have really embarrassed Andrew if he were with me).  Unfortunately, my excitement was shortlived when after all of the other bags were sent out, my black bag was not among them… :(

I filed another missing bag report with the airline (I’m an old pro at it after this trip) and the man working the counter told me that O’Hare is notorious for losing bags and that he had filed 3 missing bag reports the previous day for people flying from ANC to PHL.  And as of this morning, they have still not located my suitcase.

So let this be a lesson – DO NOT fly United Airlines through Chicago…unless you plan on carrying on with you everything you need.

I was so out of sorts yesterday between my lack of sleep and the time difference – I got home at about 10am and forced myself to stay up until about 8pm – then I crashed HARD. I’m still not close to feeling back to normal this morning even after all that sleep.  I tend to get a little bit of motion sickness for the next day or so even after I landed (and all that turbulence didn’t help my case any).

But I did manage to unload my camera – I really didn’t take many photos because I spent most of my time either working or shopping for clothes to replace those in my lost luggage (I guess I can’t do that for THIS missing bag since I’m home now, can I?).  But here’s a shot of the mountain view from the back door of Ray’s house (the man who hosted the dinner):


And a picture of all of us on his back deck:


Poor Ray is trying to poke his head into the picture through my bushy hair at the upper right of the photo!  You’ll also notice a pair of hands at the left of the photo.  That is our project manager from Washington DC, Barbara – she said that she was uncomfortable having her photo on the web, so at her request, I cropped her out of the picture.  But from left to right, that’s Jeff (from the Tech Center), Norman (also from DC), Larry (Tech Center), Ed. T (from Anchorage), David (from Fairbanks), me, part of our host Ray’s face and Mark (from DC).

Here’s another less flattering photo of the group taken inside (Barbara was conveniently on the side again, so she’s cropped again):


That our host Ray on the upper right – thanks for a great time, Ray!  And also a huge thanks to Ray’s lovely wife Barbara – she did a wonderful job!


Beautiful Alaska!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 15, 2008 in Uncategorized

I finally had a chance to drive around the area last night – one of our FAA counterparts kindly offered to host a little get-together at his home.  He had a beautiful home with a GORGEOUS view of the mountains!  I can’t image waking up to that every morning!  He lives in a community called Eagle River – a large subdivision north of Anchorage with lots of attractive homes.  I liked that all of the homes were different – not the same style – and each was on a hill with that same wonderful moutain view.   There are also paved walking paths all through the community – in fact, those paths are everywhere along the sides of the roads.  Bike-riding in the summer (and I imagine cross country skiiing in the winter) are really big up here.

Everything here is so pretty right now – I didn’t expect things to be so green and lush.  I always thought the moutains were more rocky, but they are covered with green trees in the summer time.  I think the summers here would more than make up for the lousy winters!  There are beautiful wildflowers growing everywhere and everyone’s gardens are filled with the most lovely delphiniums and other colorful flowers.  Apparently, things grow extremely well here because of the long hours of daylight (it hasn’t been getting dark until about 10:30pm every day) and mild temperatures.  Veggies grow bigger, lawns are greener and flowers are everywhere!

They said that this has been the coolest summer on record – the warmest temperature since we’ve been here was about 70 degrees.  The end of the week has been cool and rainy, but we had some pretty days when we got here (when I was running around downtown trying to buy things to wear).

But just to remind you of where you really are, they’ve been having a lot of bear problems in the local neighborhoods.  Bears have been attacking bikers and have been seen in people’s yards and even on their patios and decks.  They also like to go through trash – there are actually laws about how to store your trash to avoid attracting bears!  And I’m not talking about little Pooh bears – these are LARGE black bears and even grizzlys!

Still, I’d like to come back for a vacation and do some touring of the area some time, but for now, I’m ready to come home.  My flight home leaves at about 8:30 tonight and goes through Chicago – I hope my bags make it this time!


My Bags Are Here!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Aug 14, 2008 in Uncategorized

Good news – my luggage finally showed up last night!  I hope that my trip starts to get better from here…

We’ve been working like crazy and tonight I am finally taking a few minutes to relax.  I need to catch up on my sleep – I am experiencing MAJOR jetlag.  The circles under my eyes are huge – but at least now that I have my suitcase (and toiletries), I have concealer to help hide them, right?

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