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