Sunday, May 31, 2009

Starlight Parade

So. . .Russ, in a fit of generosity, decides to volunteer us to be chaperones of the Heritage cheerleaders at the Rose Festival Starlight Parade. I love my husband, but REALLY. . .did he KNOW what he was getting us into? He did not, and, as I began to pessimistically share what our life was going to be for the next several hours, he began to wilt. What a crybaby I was! How glad I am he committed us to the event because it was a lot of fun.

In years past I have gone as a spectator, but this time we were water carriers extraordinaire. Kade (the youngest of the four boys) was up for a visit. I was wondering how he was going to do with the march, but he was a complete stud. He kept up, and swooped upon glow necklaces that had fallen along the way and distributed them to children sitting on the sidelines.

Zak, part of the national championship winning team, and Davey did several tosses whenever our group stopped. We parents were at the tail end marshalling the wagon carrying water and several water bottles. We only had one wagon, and were fortunate that one quick thinking parent, in tandem with the generosity of a local restaurant, refilled the large water carrier so that we would have enough. It was a toasty night, and the band members (wearing their wool uniforms) got heated pretty quickly, as did our cheerleaders and color guard. The kids were troopers, and we'll hear later how they did in the judging.

The Starlight Parade is a much shorter route than the Grand Floral Parade, which I understand is six miles. It was a relief to learn that our route was going to be about half that--which is the amount of walking I do with our Great Dane, Lizzie. We got home around midnight, and every one of us was ready to tuck ourselves in and call it a day. Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! It was a thrill to see our boy up at the front, tossing his flyer. I was also surprised at the number of parade watchers who were cheering for the parents who were following the parade--obviously, it was a bunch who had been there and done that at one point or another themselves. Not only that, I am now becoming a little more adept at squirting water into a moving kid's mouth without drowning them.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Priests, 80th Birthdays, and the Super Bowl

Once again, the weekend seemed to be the highlight. Russ spent the last two days of the week renewing his acquaintance with a colleague whom he respects and appreciates. His boss graciously supported Russ's desire to see how another extremely successful analyst does the job and picked up some insights along the way. He mentioned, though, that he discovered that he and his colleague are apparently sharing a brain--or at least the same tastes in breakfast. Their staple: two hard boiled eggs, a banana, yogurt, and a Starbuck beverage (at least the beverages are different). Given the talent of both of these men, we must conclude that THIS is the breakfast of champions.

Zak and his team competed at Jesuit High School this weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling so stellar, so he had to compete without the benefit of me or his dad cheering from the stands. Our hearts were in it, though. He had to leave before he could see the trophies handed out, so he missed the awards and the immediate knowledge that his team had taken first at this tournament. It was a nice supplement to the state title. Also, it meant they beat some Oregon teams that they didn't see in Everett, but who have given them a run for their competitive money.

He was immediately whisked into the big car and taken to The Rheinlander restaurant--a good German eatery in Portland to celebrate Mom/Grandma Eade's 80th birthday. We were serenaded by Adam and a lovable accordionist whose tunes seemed to have the recurrent theme of beer--good German beer. Too bad we're all teetotallers. Props to Barb who suggested the idea. We enjoyed the time with Barb and Scott and their three closest kids, and our two (lovable) miscreants. This was followed by a rousing game of Outburst--which is always guaranteed to cause dissent. The girls won--although it would have only been good form for the men to allow the woman of the day a moment in the sun. We are thankful for good family who are also good friends. Not everyone is so blessed. It appears that all of our pictures will be overseen by portraits in the background. In this case, we were supervised by the head chef of the Rheinlander who, I think, looks suspiciously like Benny Hill.

The weekend was topped off by the Super Bowl. What a party! Because I was feeling so lousy, my wonderful husband went on a mission to round up the jolly, jolly treat most loved by each family member. It was quite a gastronomic--and, frankly, nuclear--spread. I believe that soda, chips and salsa, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Dominos Pizza, and various and sundry candies are probably not meant to be consumed together. Only one of us REALLY had heartburn, though. Russ had to eat humble pie as the Steelers (the overwhelming favorite of most of those in attendance--Barb, Scott, us, David and Zak) made a couple of impossible plays destined to make the game a nail biter to the very end. It's not an exactly scientific study, but we DID notice that when Zak left the room, the momentum shifted and the Cardinals began to manhandle the Steelers a bit. Quick thinking David (who had a side bet going with Russ) went and brought Zak back to the room, and that was all she wrote. Even Russ had to (grudgingly) admit that the Steelers played well. It was the same recognition I had to cough up (in spite of my bitterness over the Seahawks/Steelers game) when they roundly beat my Chargers. Somewhat disconcertingly, I predicted when the Cards had the ball in the end zone in the first half that there would be an interception that would be run back for a touchdown. Who knew it would actually happen AND be for a 100 yard run?!? Perhaps I should change my name to Fatima or some exotic sounding name and hang a shingle out as a psychic. I can see it now. . ."I predict that if you continue to waste money on getting psychics to tell you how to live your life, you will be poor and miserable."

More next week.

Monday, January 26, 2009

We are the Champions. . .and other items

This week was quite a week. Russ returned home from his off-site training at Las Vegas. He had the Will Smith suite. Fortunately, he got to pursue Happyness at home this weekend before flying off to San Francisco to continue the good work that he does.

We drove Zak and one other cheerleader (Davey)to Everett, Washington to the Comcast Arena to watch the WIAA Cheerleading State Championship. It was a long drive and a longer day, but the squad of 25 came away victorious, pocketing another trophy and garnering another plaque for the Heritage High School gym. Only two of the squad are seniors, so it bodes pretty well for next year's competition as well. After one day off from practice, the team is back on the mats preparing for a competition at Jesuit this weekend and polishing their skills for the USA National Competition in Anaheim. Much to Zak's chagrin, he is going to have to go to the "Happiest Freakin' Place on Earth" and be surrounded by cute girls in short skirts. It's a heavy burden he bears. The team peformed flawlessly, and the crowd was awestruck. The Heritage High School squad has at least one other guy as big and strong as Zak, and between all of the rather buff guys, the girls who are flyers get some amazng height. It was an impressive exhibition, and the crowd sat in stunned silence for about 30 seconds with only a collective "WOW" to really do the performance justice. We're quite proud, but the adrenaline cost the lad and he is STILL trying to catch up on his sleep. Note the new pic FROM the event. Zak is in the top row--the dark haired one with the VERY wide grin. Also, the two young ladies to the left of the picture are true Dairy Queens. I believe they were officially crowned by the Washington Dairy Farmers.

David got his first freeway driving experience today. We drove the tank (otherwise known as the TE station wagon). He made it onto the onramp from SR500--which is always tricky--and then onto I-5 from 205. There are no bumps or bruises to the car, and there are no claw marks on the arm rest created by a tense mother. We made the trip up to Longview so I could prepare for Round 2 (second semester).

I am reading like crazy and trying to get caught up on all the YA review books I have stacked on the glass table at the end of our hallway. Since mid-December I have logged about eleven books on the review list, and feel pretty good about that. I am also starting to work out again, though slowly. I doubt I will be fully up to speed for some time; however, between the salads and the half-hour stints on the exercise bike, I hope to be back into fighting shape for the trip to Puerto Vallarte that my parents gave us as a wedding present. There are rumors, too, that IPA may send employees and their spouses to a training in the Bahamas. . .so. . .in spite of the Super Bowl that is to come, I am trying to behave. Okay. . .trying to behave a little at a time. I have just discovered the Bath and Bodyworks Black Amythest and have fallen in love. Fortunately for my sweetie, love is shared, never diminished.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year from the Kruse Clan

What follows is a copy of what we are sending to those who don't get to hear from us as often. However, upon consideration, it also summed up our year pretty nicely.

Welcome to the first installation of The Kruse News. This was originally
intended to be a Christmas letter, but what with all the snow and excitement
(and editing) it has turned into a reflection on the year that was and what we
have learned.

Lesson No. 1- No Wedding is Perfect
But ours was
pretty close. Russ popped the question that changed his life in February, and
the rest is history. Our initial plan—get married at the Skamania Lodge and,
after the ceremony, tee off with Barb and Scott Miller on the 13th hole. Who
would have thought it would snow/hail/pour in April? The ceremony itself was a
stress free memorable event shared with a few close family members. We are now
embarking on the “and they lived happily ever after” part.

Lesson No. 2
- If You Want Adventure, Buy a House on Short Sale
A bigger family made a
bigger house desirable. The first house we put an offer on fell through the day
of closing. Fortunately, there was a Plan B (and eleven months worth of housing
inventory to choose from). We are now in our own home—the first one Jodi has
ever had in her name.

Lesson No. 3 – Dinner Parties Are Fun
hosted her first family Thanksgiving in the new digs. The Hardys came to dinner
and survived the experience—which marked it as a success.

Lesson No. 4 –
Blogs Are Only Informative When Updated
If you want the long, entertaining
version of events in our lives, check out
It turns out there are two Jodi Kruses in the northwest. Jodi will try to keep
it more current, but makes no promises.

Lesson No. 5 – Good-byes Aren’t
This year Grandpa Kruse lost his fight with cancer. Barbara spent a lot
of time at the end caring for him and letting him know how much he was loved.
His death was as private as his life, but still leaves a space for those who are
left behind. Our prayers are with Joan as she begins to transition to a new
phase of her life.

And now. . .the short version of what is going on
with each of us and individual lessons learned:

Russ (49): Still works
for IPA and collects frequent flyer miles at a stunning pace. Jodi is becoming
an excellent travel agent when he gets stuck and needs a hotel and rental car.
Russ has learned that beauty sleep isn’t just a luxury.

Jodi (42): Still
works at R. A. Long High School in Longview. She is teaching Special Education
and continues to coach the Speech & Debate team. She is no longer
threatening to try to find a job in Vancouver. Jodi learned that a Mercedes
SL500 makes the bad commute go away. She no longer remembers what she used to
drive. . .it’s on the tip of her tongue. . .oh, yeah. . .an Eclipse.

Amber (25): Graduated from Sacramento State this December with a degree
in Business Administration and a concentration in Human Resources. “No more
retail,” she says gleefully. Her intensified job hunt resumes in January. She
continues to make incredible pieces of handmade jewelry. She learned that you
can walk in graduation without tripping.

Tyler (20): Is going to the
University of Nevada, Reno. He and some buddies decided to move into a house of
their own. Rumor has it that the house may double as a sled. It has a few cracks
and teeters alarmingly (okay—maybe not that dramatically, but we’re trying to
make this entertaining) on the hillside. T-Man has learned that Engineering is a
particularly good major if you need to figure out a way to prop up your
house—here’s to him successfully accomplishing that for the next two years.

Zak (16): Has become a valuable part of the Heritage High School
cheerleading squad. Under the direction of an incredible coach, Zak and his team
will be attending the USA Cheerleading Competition in Anaheim during Spring
Break. Zak has learned that a hit (in the face) from a flying cheerleader can be
almost as painful as a hit from a football lineman.

David (16): Has
finally found his passion—photography. According to his teacher, he is quite
talented. He is now saving his pennies for a digital SLR camera. David has
learned that there is life after getting stuck in Longview during a snow
storm—it is a quieter, less populated, one, though.

Zane (14): Is a part
of the Chandler High School Marching Band in Arizona where he lives with his
mother. Rumor has it that he will be marching with his band in the Fiesta Bowl.
He continues to be an avid reader and champion Scrabble player. He has learned
that, while puddles can be dangerous to band members, nothing stops a Kruse with
screws (in his ankle)!

Kolby (12): Started his first year of junior high
in Chandler. He is becoming quite a baseball player. He also has an impressive
command of the NFL workings. Kole has learned that stopping line drives with
anything other than your mitt can open up a whole new technicolored world.

Kade (7): Is working hard at being the best youngest brother he can be.
He can play a mean Guitar Hero, but doesn’t let that success go to his head. He
is just as lovable as ever. Kade has learned that tubing behind the Miller’s
boat is a good thing.

As you begin your own new year, we pray that yours
will be as blessed as ours has been.

Jodi, Russ, and the Kids

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby!

It's official! Russ is knocking on the door of the BIG ONE. . .the birthday that means he has been on this earth for a full half a century. In one year, he will be 50! As one who turned 40 not long ago, I can say with confidence, that, aside from the fact that it is harder than it used to be to work out, it doesn't really feel like we are getting older. Our kids do seem to be getting taller and have deeper voices, though, so I suppose we must be aging.

On the actual DAY that Russ turned 49 (December 18), we were in Sacramento celebrating Amber's graduation (look for the blog titled "Amberific" in the next couple of days). As is Mom Eade's tradition, she and Ray host a lunch or dinner at the restaurant of the honored person's choice, and Russ loves Benihana. The unusual amount of ice and snow (which kept us all pretty much housebound save for Christmas day when Scotty rescued us in the four-wheel drive and chauffered everyone to the Miller home on Prune Hill in Camas) precluded much of a celebration on Russ's behalf, so when a night of rain thawed our part of the world sufficient to get out, we all made the most of it.

We ate until we could eat no more. We took doggy bags and enjoyed the fruits of those leftovers today (well, at least I did). The picture tells the tale. We have, however, promised Scotty that we will attempt to PhotoShop the picture at some point so it doesn't look like he has a Japanese man licking him upside the head. Now. . .all I have to do is make a cake. I'm thinking lemon with chocolate frosting. . .

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Do not adjust your screen. This picture that you see is Amber on the big screen at Arco Stadium, home of the Sacramento Kings and temporary sanctuary to a several hundred undergrads and graduates of the Sacramento State School of Business.

I wish I could claim some credit for the amazing young woman that is Amber Kruse. On December 18 I flew down to join Russ, Tyler, and Amber in celebration of her graduation. To truly appreciate how incredible this accomplishment is, one must appreciate the strong, independent streak Amber inherited from her mother, Sheila, and the natural aptitude for math and business that she inherited from Russ but has honed all on her own.

What was initially planned for a 7:30 pm dinner at Red Lobster had to be bumped back an hour and a half in the mess that was Portland International Airport. All flights to Spokane were cancelled as a result of the weather (this was the first wave of the ice and snow that blanketed Washington), meaning my plane, which was supposed to come from Spokane, was significantly delayed. Russ picked me up at just before 9 pm, and we hustled to the restaurant to enjoy a meal that EVERYONE now was looking forward to consuming. As it turned out, it gave Amber and Tyler a little more time to o their Christmas shopping.

Russ presented Amber with our gift to her: a Visconti Opera pen. The cap of this particular pen can be customized, so an AK (Amber Kruse, not Alaska) is on its way to grace to top of her pen. Amber has developed an appreciation for fine pens. It is our hope that this pen will be the one that signs her first contract. We also exchanged Christmas presents with Amber and Tyler.

For those who have not heard me go on and on about Amber's talents, Amber makes custom jewelry. If you find that you have lost a jewel in any of your jewelry or a mate to an earring that renders the jewelry less than what it once was, Amber is able to turn it into something beautiful. She and Tyler gave Russ a great pen (with German directions--well done-- in the father tongue no less) and a wooden cross puzzle. They presented me with the beautiful green bracelet and earrings pictured below. To say that I was touched would be an understatement.

As graduations go, it was a nice ceremony befitting all the hard work that we know Amber put into her achievement. My parents wanted very much to provide a college education for me, and so they invested in my own undergraduate degree. I contributed a little, but my mom and dad were the heaviest contributors. Amber did it on her own while living independently. She now hits the street with management experience at Office Depot as well as a bachelor's degree in Business Administration specializing in Human Resources. When we asked her what she plans on doing, she indicated that she is considering a lot of different options, but was looking at hospital administration as an option. We couldn't be more proud of her!

NOTE: For those wondering what is going on with Tyler, he is following in his sister's footsteps. He is attending the University of Nevada at Reno where he works at Office Depot and shares a house with several young men who are also attending UNR. He is driving a Chevy Camaro that is his pride and joy and is considering Engineering as a degree program. He knows the stats on cars the way some young enthusiasts know the stats of their favorite sports players. We're pretty proud of him, too.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Marriage makes for changes. As a part of a married couple, I am now beginning to create my own family traditions apart from those of my parents. This year was the first year I hosted a real, live Thanksgiving dinner in a home that is bigger than a postage stamp and has my name on the paperwork as an owner rather than a renter.

Dinner was scheduled for early afternoon with my parents, brother, and his family as the guests of honor (for a grand total of 11 of us eating). If I had been a little more proactive, my dining room furniture would have been refinished in time for the occasion. As it stands, if I had been a little more proactive, this blog entry would have been a little closer to the actual date of Thanksgiving, too, but the hustle and bustle of life and work seem to conspire to leave me less than motivated to wax eloquent about life in our corner of the world.

In a side note, as you look at the table, the china is a combination of dishes that both Russ and I brought to our marriage. When we were first getting to know each other, I mentioned that I should show him my china pattern. The Noritake Halifax was a pattern I selected in 1989 when I first got married. In the initial stages of our relationship, he and I happened to be unpacking some items he had gotten out of his storage unit in Sacramento, California. Lo and behold, the newly uncovered china revealed that he ALSO had the Noritake Halifax pattern. It has been discontinued; however, a couple of years ago I was able to find some incredibly good deals on it on eBay, so our china has been rounded out sufficient to entertain.

If the success of a celebration is measured by the people you enjoy leaving not much in the way of potential leftovers, this event could be deemed a success. I fixed two kinds of turkey breast for those in attendance, a cranberry sauce made from scratch, a stuffing suggested by my wonderful sister, Barb (whose culinary/hostessing activities are legend), mashed potatoes and gravy, a green bean casserole, and some peas and carrots in a honey glaze. It is a fine art to be able to have all the food prepared and hot for when everyone is ready to sit down and eat. It's something that my mother, Russ's mother, and other hostesses I admire seem able to do with ease. I came close--but that only means I need to continue the efforts in order to become more proficient. Mom Hardy provided TONS of delectable desserts.

There were a couple of people who asked for my recipes. . .so. . .for your cooking pleasure, here they are (and credited to those who contributed--all but the stuffing came from

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey (contributed by The Mad Russian)
5 - slices bacon
1 - 5.5 lb. bone-in turkey breast (skin removed)
1/2 t. garlic pepper
1 - 10.5 oz. can turkey gravy
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. dried sage

1. Brown bacon and crumble it
2. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray. Place turkey in the slow cooker. Season with garlic pepper. In a bowl, mix the bacon, gravy, flour, Worcestershire sauce, and sage. Pour over turkeyin the slow cooker.
3. Cover slow cooker and cook turkey 8 hours on Low. (I put it on high and wound up cooking only a couple of hours before the turkey button popped and it turned out just fine--in fact, it was so tender it was falling off the bone.)

Cranberry Stuffed Turkey Breasts (submitted by Esther Nelson)
2 - boneless and skinless turkey breasts
1 - 12 oz. pakage herb-seasoned dry bread stuffing mix
1.5 c. sweetened-dried cranberries
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. pecan halves
2 T. olive oil

1.Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions, set aside and let cool.
2. With a sharp knife, butterfly breasts open to lay flat. Place each breast between two sheets of waxed paper and flatten with a mallet.
3. On each breast, spread prepared stuffing to 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle with most of the dried cranberries and all of the chopped pecans. Roll up "jellyroll" style, starting with the long end and roll tightly. Tuck in ends and tie in sections with string, about 4 sections around middle and one running the length of the roll to secure the ends.
4.Place the olive oil in an oven proof skillet and heat. Carefully brown rolls on all sides. Place skillet in oven, uncovered and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 1 hour or until a knife inserted draws clear juices. Do not allow these to get overly dry. Allow rolls to set for 15 minutes before slicing into 1/2 - 3/4 inch circles. Leave one roll whole and slice the other for presentation. Stuffing will be spiraled into meat. Present on your prettiest platter on a bed for curly lettuce, garnish by sprinkling with the whole pecans and some dried cranberries.

Cranberry Sauce (submitted by Toni with variations by other contributors)
12 oz. cranberries
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. pineapple juice
6 oz. raspberries
14 oz. crushed pineapple
1/4 c. Grand Marnier
1/4 c. crushed (or chopped) pecans

1. Boil cranberries, sugar, OJ, pineapple juice until the cranberries pop. (I added sugar until it tasted sweet enough for me--I think we wound up using about 2 cups total)
2. Add raspberries and mash.
3. Add Grand Marnier, pineapple and pecans.
4. Cook until thickened and refrigerate.
(I did this the night before)

Barbara's Stuffing
1 pkg. seasoned stuffing mix
3/4 lb. ground pork sausage
1/2 med. yellow onion
2 stalks of celery
1 can water chestnuts (chopped)
1 - 2 cans of chicken broth
1/2 c. pecans
1/2 c. dried cranberries

1. Brown the pork sausage.
2. Chop onion, celery, water chestnuts and add to the seasoned stuffing mix.
3. Add the pecans and cranberries to the seasoned stuffing mix.
4. Mix in as much chicken broth as you want so it is as moist as you like it.
5. Bake in a 9 x 12 inch pan for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Campbell's Green Bean Casserole (submitted by Campbell's Kitchen)
2 - 10.75 oz cans Campbell's Condesned Cream of Mushroom Soup (I used Cream of Celery)
1 c. milk (I used half and half)
2 t. soy sauche
1/4 t. ground black pepper
8 c. cooked cut green beans
2 2/3 c. French Fried Onions
1/2 can of water chestnuts* (my addition--but the idea came from Barb Miller)

1. Cook beans (don't overcook--you want them to be slightly crunchy still)
2. Stir soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, beans, waterchestnuts and 1 1/3 c. onions in 3-qt casserole dish.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until hot. Stir.
3. Top with remaining onions. Bake for 5 minutes more.

Honey Glazed Pea Pods and Carrots (submitted by Michele O'Sullivan with additions by others)
1 pkg. baby carrots
1/2 lb. trimmed snow peas
3 T. butter
1/2 t. cornstarch
2 T. honey
1/2 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. oregano (I used sage since I already had used that with the turkey)

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender crisp (10 - 12 minutes). Add pea pods and cook until tender crisp. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter in the same pan and stir in cornstarch. Return carrots and peas to pan and stir in honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.