Friday, May 30, 2008

And The Winner Is.....

Ka-Ka-Ka-KIA! Who knew??

After selling my Bronco a couple weeks back I started sorting through my car options. I landed on getting something new and cheap. Jen's wisdom tipped the scale. She reminded me that our house is 32 years old and could throw us a $urpri$e at any moment. Ergo, she figured that we should get a vehicle that would be under warranty for the foreseeable future.

I determined that I'd be purchasing a hatchback- because guys always want to be able to transport stuff. Even if we don't actually haul anything, we like to know that we could. So after checking out all the options, Jen and I sat down last Saturday to choose a car. I was just about to tell her that I thought we should buy a Nissan Versa, when Ryan- from the local Kia dealer- called. He told me about some additional discounts they were able to offer me- and suddenly I was driving to Durham to test drive a Kia Spectra 5. After taking one for a spin and settling on a final sales price, my mind was made up.

We picked up the car last night.

Jen hadn't seen it until then and was pleasantly surprised. I'm thrilled. The combination of good gas mileage, decent looks, sporty touches inside, a great list of standard features, nimble handling, a generous warranty and the price ($3100 BELOW INVOICE!) made the decision a no-brainer for me.

On top of all that, I had the best car buying experience I've ever had with a dealer. All the folks at Johnson Kia in Durham treated us well. Our salesperson (Ryan) was incredibly pleasant. The sales manager (Caz) was the most straight-forward car guy I've ever dealt with. The numbers ended up exactly where he promised they would be. Caz also went above and beyond to find a car in the color I wanted and trade another dealer for it. The finance guru (John) even made paying for the thing fairly painless. I was treated like a valued customer and a friend.

If you are in the market for a new hatchback, give Kia's Spectra 5 a look. If you are buying a new Kia, Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep in the Raleigh area- swing by the Johnson dealerships. They'll take good care of you.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

World Class MMA For FREE

For about four years now, Jen and I have been fans of MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting. We got hooked with the UFC's first Ultimate Fighter reality show. Getting to see these athletes as real (and often very intelligent) people gave us a chance to learn the sport and see it for more than the violent, bloody spectacle it is often assumed to be (and sometimes is).

If you've been thinking about catching some MMA or taking a look at the sport for yourself, you're in luck. The VS (versus) channel is broadcasting a night of free MMA fights at 9pm on Sunday, June 1st. The featured bout on the card pits the #1 ranked featherweight (145lbs) and WEC champion Urijah Faber against a legend in the sport- Jens Pulver. These world class fighters are both fairly compelling. Watch them talk about their training HERE.

Faber, "The California Kid", is a great looking, likable guy. He's also an incredible physical specimen who fights at a frenetic pace and seems to invent new moves in every fight. Pulver, "Little Evil", is a former UFC Champion at 155lbs, is undefeated at 145lbs and has been fighting for his survival since he was 5.

So, this is probably more info than you wanted already. Short story- watch this fight. Should be great.

Doorknobs Are There For A Reason...

Our house continues to live in the land of 1/2 finished. One of the many evidences of this is the fact that many of our doors don't have doorknobs on them. We've got the new hardware, but are waiting to install it until we get both coats of new paint up on the doors. If you've ever painted a 6 paneled door, you can appreciate how time consuming this can be.

So, suffice it to say that I've gotten used to closing doors by grabbing the edge, giving it a gentle pull- and then yanking my hand out of the way. This was proving to be a fine strategy- until lunchtime on Tuesday- when I failed to clear my digits in a timely fashion of the slab of wood swinging towards them.

The result was both painful and a bit gross.

Now I've got a bruise rainbow on my finger, with the green band extending below the cuticle and into my skin. (Told you it was gross.)

The worst part? This door actually HAS a doorknob on it.

Next time I'll use it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Turtle Girl...

Ask Addy what her favorite animal is and you'll almost always hear "TURTLE!" in response.

Guess she's admired them for so long that now she's trying to become one.

When I asked her what this pile of pillows was on the couch, she told me from within the mound that it was her shell.

You know what they say about imitation being the most sincerely form of flattery.

Feel flattered all you turtles!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Goodbye...Hello...Old Friends

This past week I said goodbye to my 1988 Ford Bronco. Although I loved having it, I was beginning to cringe every time I hit the gas pump. Around town I was getting 9 miles to the gallon. No, I didn't forget a digit there. 9mg at $3.80 a gallon. I was pouring $150 a month in the tank and not really going much of anywhere. On top of that I needed to spend close to $1K in repairs to get it past its scheduled NC inspection. So, farewell...

Ironically, as we were saying goodbye to one old friend, three others dropped by to see us. Jeremy, Casey & Lily Mae Walker stopped to see us on their way back to Elizabethton TN from a week at Nags Head at the Outer Banks. We've known the Walkers for coming up on 6 years now and have loved them from the first Mexican Dinner we shared together at Church Planter's Assessment. They are kindred spirits and we still hold out hope that one day we can open that retreat center together.

Funny how life pairs things together, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Road Trip, Pizza & Love...

Over the past 5 years we've been honored to call the Carter family our friends. Actually "friends" doesn't really capture it- we think of them more as family.

For some time now they've been working to open their first MARCO'S pizza franchise in the Tri-Cities area of eastern TN. With the grand opening scheduled for Monday, Sunday was deemed "Friends & Family Night". It also happened to be Mother's Day. Blend that on high and you know what you get? ROAD TRIP.

After celebrating Mother's Day on Sunday morning (Jen got a hummingbird feeder, an outfit that Addy helped pick out, and a hot stone massage), we went to church together and grabbed a quick lunch at a local cafe we like (Barry's for all you Raleigh folks). Then we ditched the kids....errr....left them in the loving care of grandparents, and headed east.

We enjoyed the drive, some time to talk without "distractions" and the scenery. In addition to the mountains we saw some nice stretches of wildflowers.

We were able to surprise Bryan, Erika & Brady by showing up unannounced at the store.

We got the full tour of the restaurant, watched Brady make fresh pizza dough and sampled the wares to our heart's content and stomach's limits. We ate nearly everything on the menu and enjoyed it all. The Italian sausage and CinnaSquares were standouts for me. The store officially opened at about 1:30 on Monday and I had the honor of being the first paying customer. What did I buy? CinnaSquares of course.

Although it was a quick trip, we had a great time getting away, supporting our friends and reconnecting with each other. We're so excited for the Carters and this new chapter in their lives. If past ventures are any indicator, this will be wildly successful.

If you find yourself hungry in Johnson City, stop by the Marco's Pizza right across from ETSU. And don't forget the CinnaSquares!

If you are interested in opening a Marco's franchise in the Tri-Cities, Knoxville or anywhere up I-75 to Lexington, let me know. I'll put you in touch with the area rep.

He's like a brother to me.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

And We're Back...

The fine folks from Time Warner Cable came today and ushered us back into the 21st century with high speed internet and 200 channels of cable tv- including a dvr and a magic glow-in-the-dark-remote. (Yes, I'll keep pushing the button even in broad daylight.)

I wasn't home for the install, but Jen says it took about 4 hours and that the cable guys were not only chased over the fence by my in-laws' dog (all 12 pounds of her), but that they had to run all new cable and do a lot of work in our crawl space. That's what you call earning your money.

How does this news affect you?

  • If you've been looking for Jen online or via email- she's back! Anyone selling any kind of household good on Craigslist will be thrilled to hear this since Jen will check the new listings every night.
  • If we've watched the same tv shows in the past, we'll suddenly be conversant again. 5 months without a dvr put a serious dent in our keeping up with our favorite shows.
  • If you feel horrible about that fact that you watch too much tv, don't exercise enough and aren't as productive as you should be- you 'll know for sure now that you aren't alone. Glad we can ease your guilty conscience.
  • If you've been thinking about a career in cable installation, and don't like running from dogs or spending hours crawling under homes- think again.
That is all for now. As you were.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

And I'm Official...

Finally got my NC Driver's License today. I chose this date because it was voting day in my new state and I thought there'd be no lines at the DMV. There weren't and the whole deal took about 15 minutes. Genius!

Of course, that doesn't count the time I spent studying for the written test. Yeah, you read that right. I had to take a written test to get my license in NC. Well, not just me- but everyone applying for NC driving privileges for the first time. (Having a valid license from another state did exempt me from taking a driving test.)

After talking with a friend who failed the written test the first time, I decided to study and am glad I did. The exam included lots of NC specific info- like the b.a.c. that triggers a dwi (.08), the number of points on your license that earns you a defensive driving class (7) and the % of accidents in my new state that involve alcohol (38%). Reading the 108 page driver's handbook through once and 15 minutes worth of online practice tests did the trick and earned me a passing grade.

When I first found out that I'd have to take the written test, I scoffed. Now that I'm on the other side of the process, I think the mandatory testing is a good idea. Just reviewing the info has made me drive differently today. I'm practicing the 2 second rule, and checking my blind spots more regularly.

As a bonus for jumping through the testing hoops, NC gives adults ages 21-54 licenses that don't expire for 8 years. That means the next time I'm back at the DMV I'll be in my mid 40's with kids who are 9 and 12.

Sounds ok to me.

Wii Round 2

Jen and Judy continued their Wii battles last night and this time I risked life and limb to snap a couple of pictures for you.

I won't expose myself any more by commenting on who has been getting the better of these exchanges. (I can't win either way.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Transfer of Energy

We've been in the house full-time now for almost a week and the pace of home improvement has slowed considerably. My guess is that we worked so hard for so long just to get in, that we've gone into recovery mode.

We still don't have cable yet (that should happen on Thursday), but we've discovered that we can get about 10 channels with a good old fashioned set of rabbit ears. Know what 10 channels have in common with the 200 that cable offers? There's not anything you want to watch on them either.

Well, at least we'll be back on the internet at home on Thursday....

In the meantime, we finally unpacked the Wii we got back in March and have been playing in the evenings. Last night Jen and Judy went one on one in about every game we own. I'd have taken pictures, but feared they might chuck one of the remotes at me. And they both have a pretty mean forehand in the tennis game.

My guess is that we'll get back to work in the next few days and I'll have more to show you then.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Apologies, The Move, The Daughter

Sorry for the lapse in activity here. Been busy making the move from the apartment to the house in Raleigh. We're finally in, but far from unpacked. And we LOVE our new place. But more on that later.

Last night I got a reminder that despite all of the transition in our lives, some things don't change. Like my daughter's ability to make me laugh by simply stating the obvious truth. We were sitting in our new living room (which now has a floor, but still lacks new paint, curtains, pics on the wall and finishing trim- see bad pic below) watching tv.

Addy was due to go to bed in about 10 minutes. (We put her down between 8:30-9pm every evening. She's usually still awake when we turn in between 11-12pm.) The show we were watching went to commercial. I started sorting through a stack of mail, only vaguely aware of the Ambien CR sleep-aid pitch droning in the background. After it finished, Addy turned, caught my eye and said,

"Dad, I have trouble going to sleep at night."
So there you have it.
My daughter IS paying attention to all the commercials on tv.
She wants drugs.
AND she is adorable.

I'll keep the last one and try to do something about the first two.
After we get unpacked of course.