Tag Archives: hobby

The Western Conf. Finals; My Take – By M

I know that you many of you who read our family blog are probably not as into sports -namely pro basketball- as I am.  But after reading page, after page, after article, after article, after blog… I thought it was my turn to break down the NBA Western Conference Finals between the OKC Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs.  (Just a fair warning: if you don’t care about the NBA then feel free to back out of reading this post now)   🙂

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This WCF (Western Conference Final) is going to be one for the ages.  We have the 1 and 2 seeds from the West facing off!   Not only that, they are both small market teams that have made their way to NBA Dominance: The Spurs for the past Decade, the Thunder for the past couple of seasons – so we have this match up of the old guard and the new guard (guaranteed, no matter if the Thunder lose this series, they will be around making some noise for seasons to come).  We also have the original “Big 3” in Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker vs. one of the newest “Big 3’s” in the league in Durant, Westbrook, and Harden.  So as stated above, this match up is going to be one that will definitely go down in the annals of Basketball history.

The Spurs:

There is a lot of talk about the Spurs, and their current Historical 18 game winning streak.  My heart pounds just thinking about the reality that we haven’t lost in nearly a month and a half!  That is ridiculous!  However, every run comes to end and I know that the Thunder will end that streak – I’m just praying it’s not until game 3 in OKC.

Alongside that (and probably the biggest contributor to it), the Spurs, by far, have the deepest team in the league.  To think that our end of the bench, trash time point guard is an Olympic Athlete (for Australia… but STILL) that’s saying something.   To know that basically any guy on our bench could/would be starting on just about any other team in the league is unbelievable!  One of our biggest strengths is that any one -out of 10- players could go off on any given night is awesome.  It seems like we’ve always had someone to pick up the slack of someone else.  Whether its’ Green and Leonard (a rookie nonetheless) dropping 18 or Diaw hitting a crucial 3, or Tiago bringing a well timed pick-and-roll slam dunk, or Ginobili doing what he does, we always have someone there to give us a lift.

Another argument is our playoff history and veteran leadership.

’nuff said…. but I’ll go ahead and mention that we are the most winning team in all 4 major American team sports this decade.

Lastly, we have once again proved our dominance again in rounds 1 and 2 against the Jazz and Clippers.  We smothered a team that they said was “Too Big”, and out ran a team that they said was “Too Athletic”.

I’ve seen lots of Spurs teams (I probably remember a good 19-20 of them -especially all the Duncan era teams) and I can tell that this Spurs Team is Special!

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The Thunder:

The Thunder have been incredible these past 2-3 seasons.  They move cities, have the worst season ever, and comeback full-force heading into the playoffs 3 seasons straight.  Not only that but are in a back-to-back opportunity to win the West.  I have got to give my props there for sure!  Incredible!

The Fans: I usually don’t worry about the Spurs when it comes to homecourt advantage.  We typically do well away from home (i.e. closeout games in LA and, one of the most notorious home crowds, SLC, Utah).  However, the OKC fans are nuts.  I noticed this at my first Thunder/Spurs game back when OKC was still terrible.  They were down by 18 and it still sounded like it was a playoff game.  The Thunder actually managed to rallyback and win that game and by the end of the night, I think my ears rang for a week.  I see it this way: Take a bunch of raucous white folk who are used to cheering on their favorite college football team in a stadium and put a lid on that stadium… These people are used to screaming outdoors, not inside.  I don’t think they know how to bring it down to there inside voices… and that is awesome… frankly, makes me a tad jealous.  Glad we have earned the homecourt this round.

The Youth: Although the Spurs have gotten loads younger this year, with an average age around 27 or something like that, I want to say, we’re not nearly as old as everyone writes us off as.  However, the rub lies in the fact that our big 3 are now all into their 30s where as OKC’s big three are hovering around 25 yrs old. Other than fisher being older than dirt (yes he is older than Timmy D), the rest of the Thunder support cast is young and hungry.  Edge to the Thunder

Riding high:  They swept the “Reigning Champ”* Dallas Mavericks (*More on the asterisk later), and although they didn’t sweep LA, they beat them in pretty sound fashion (The Lakers are the champs from the year before the Mavs).  So OKC is feeling good and like they’re chances now that they have some experience against some big guns

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Conclusion:

The Thunder are rolling, and the Spurs are dominating.  Sunday is truly going to be a clash of two NBA Titans, and I fully believe that the winner of this series will go on to be crowned NBA Champs.  I can’t wait to get this started.

I leave with these last few thoughts on the match-ups and my prediction.

As mentioned, the Spurs are on a historical run here.  It won’t last forever, but they have lots of momentum and lots of depth to carry them through.  The Thunder are riding high on their round 1 and 2 victories as well.  However, not to discredit what they’ve done, but to get to my asterisk in the above paragraph, I think annalists are giving a little too much weight to the Thunder in their wins, and taking away from what the Spurs have done in theirs.

I don’t/didn’t see Dallas as the reigning champs this year.  In fact, I rarely see any team as the reigning champs unless they bring back their core and prove themselves.  Dallas lost several key players in the off-season, got off to a rocky start, and never fully recovered.  They struggled to enter the playoffs as the 7th seed that they did, and did not play like champions all year, much less in the playoffs.  I’m not discrediting them, just saying that I think anyone has to admit that this was clearly not the team that won it all in last season.  Secondly, LA was not the LA of old.  Pau showed no dominance like he has in the past.  He was essentially a ghost in the series.  When he’s your #2 guy and the TNT analyst says that Kobe should have never passed him the ball at the end of the game for the winning shot, that’s saying something (and it aint anything good).  No one would ever say that if TP dumped it off to Duncan, Ginobili, or a handful of other Spurs in the same situation.  Artest World Peace was clearly not into the series, and more into himself.  And Bynum was as immature as ever.  This was not a championship team.  There really was no “team” at all.  What the Thunder have done to get this point is nothing less than impressive, but the Spurs will be a completely different animal to beat.

The Spurs have been discredited by some (not by all) in the fact that they took down 2 clearly inferior teams.  The problem with that statement is that most people said that the Jazz were “Too Big/Young” and said that they would take the upset much like the Grizz did last year.  Now that they got swept, the pundits say “they were no good”.  A little flip-flop on the stance if you ask me. It was the same thing in LA.  Before-hand “They’re too athletic/young”.  Now, once again.  “They didn’t stand a chance” “They were the 5th seed” “They were too banged up” “they weren’t ready”.  Flip-flop of opinion again?

I know this has been a long post, but this is one thing that I am passionate about.  I love my Spurs!  On the same note, I try to be as unbiased as I can when I state my opinion… it’s hard… but I try…

I sum all this up to say that the Thunder are good!  Really Good!

…But this year, the Spurs are better!  I kind of feel bad because I think, otherwise, the Thunder had a shot.  I don’t feel bad because I miss that championship feeling, and the Spurs have worked just as hard to get to this point one more time.

I’m calling it – Spurs in 6.

It will be a tough series.  But ultimately I think the Spurs have too much depth.  They are playing good (if not great) team defense again and have way too many options on the offensive end.  I want the “Drive for 5” to stay alive!  Cant Wait for Sunday 7:30pm!!!!  Get here soon!

And, GO SPURS GO!!!!

-What are some of your thoughts?  What do you predict?-

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– M


Fall Break Camping

This past weekend, we went camping with my parents and sister.  We drove to Purtis Creek (near Athens, TX) since it was about half-way between us.  Since Michael and I get Fridays off (for the most part) and it was my parents’ Fall Break, it worked out perfectly!

We were supposed to leave around 4:00, but it ended up being closer to 5:00.  When we pulled in to the site around 9:00, we were greeted with the site of my dad and sister trying to figure out how to put together a tent.  It was great.

My mom used to tent camp all the time when she was little, but my dad has only camped in a tent once.  They’ve had an RV since I was in Junior High, and tent camping hasn’t even crossed their minds since then — that is, until last weekend.  Since their RV needed some work done, they had to borrow my brother’s tent for the weekend.

It was hilarious watching them try to put it up!  Thankfully Michael saved the day and helped them figure it out.  My mom was a great supervisor.

I don’t want to brag, but we had both of our tents put up in less time than it took them to figure out their one.  (Actually, I do want to brag…hehe.)  And theirs (the middle one) looked pretty hilarious even after it was put together.  We were all laughing so hard.

Even though Em swore she wouldn’t sleep by herself — the bears might come and get her! — she ended up sleeping in the smaller tent next to my parents.  And she was the only one that could fall asleep for a long time.  Around 1:40 Michael got up to get us a blanket from the car and we both fell asleep a little after that…

…Only to be awakened by RAIN coming through the mesh roof at 3:00!  I’ve never seen 4 adults shoot out of bed (and their tents) and scramble around so quickly in my life.  I’m pretty sure it was record-breaking rain shield putting on-ing.  Thankfully it didn’t get too wet.  I thought it was hilarious — it only added to the adventure.  And to the fact that my dad was camping in a tent.

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I woke up rested and ready to start the day.  When we came back from the bath houses, my fam was heading towards them.  We decided to fix the tent rain shields since we’d just thrown them on in the middle of the night.  We fixed ours first, and we just HAD TO snap a picture of it and my parents’ when we finished.

Isn’t that sad?!  We were pretty proud of ours.

I was playing around with the macro setting on my camera and decided to capture the left-over rain drops:

When my family came back, it was time for breakfast.  Michael and Emily fought over who got to flip the pancakes.  They both think they’re the world’s greatest pancake makers.

After breakfast we decided to go on a walk and explore the area.  I took lots of “nature pictures” but I’ll save those for another post.

We saw a huge beaver dam…

…some beaver-chewed wood…

…and what remained of the beaver.  Yuck.

There were shells everywhere!

And there were trees sticking out all over the water.

We took a “girl pic”…

…And then my parents took a pic…

…But Michael was too busy trying to pry open a shell and then throw it into the water.

Emily used the branch as a limbo bar (I was too slow with my camera…my dad did it first),

Michael was a macho man,

And then they played around on a shaky dock thing.

We had a great walk!

I snapped a picture of our campsite, and then it was time to go into town.

We were all hungry already, so we got lunch at a place called Rounders Pizza.  It was really good!  I should have taken a picture of our pizza, but I was too hungry.  I snapped a few shots before the food came, though.  It was decorated really cute inside.

When we finished our pizza, we went to Wal-Mart to buy a few more things.  My parents ended up buying this covered table tent thing.  It turned out to be SUCH a good purchase.

We ate Hobo Dinners for dinner.  YUM!!  (For those of you who don’t know, Hobo Dinners are hamburger patties, carrots, potatoes and onions in a foil packet, cooked on the coals.  And then we put cheese on top of them when they’re finished.  They’re amazing!)  Michael and my dad took care of the fire and “supervised”.

After dinner, it was time for S’mores!  My mom brought pant hangers which, needless to say, didn’t work very well.  So we threw away the metal and watched the pant part burn.

The S’mores were delicious!

Can you tell I was excited?!

I tried to take a picture of all of this smoke coming out of the logs.  It looked so neat!

I decided to have one more, minus the graham cracker.  It was messy, but soooo yummy.

We played a game of “Chicken Foot” (dominoes) and then got ready for bed.  It’d been a fantastic, relaxing day.

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The second night was uneventful.  We’d gone ahead and left the rain covering things on, but we ended up not needing them.  And I actually slept like a rock.  I woke up feeling so rested.

For breakfast, my mom and I had rice and bacon, my dad had oatmeal and bacon, Michael had pancakes and bacon, and Emily had pancakes, bacon, and rice.  I guess a little variety never hurt anyone.  Emily had fun throwing all of our trash in the fire.

We decided to fold up the net part of the table tent and put away our tents before it started raining some more (it’d been sprinkling off and on all morning).

And then we played a game of “Risk” — the new one.  Instead of it being “world domination” (we think it must have been politically incorrect or something), you now have to complete 3 objectives to win the game.  I actually like it a lot more than the original game.

We had a lot of fun!  Emily ended up losing big time (she was red) ad my dad ended up winning.  My mom probably could have won, but she let him complete another objective since it was getting close to time to go.

After our game was over, it was time to pack up and go home.  But not before a family picture!

They didn’t give me much to work with…

It’s scary how well Michael fits in.

The next one was better.

It’d been an INCREDIBLE weekend — just what we all needed.  It was so good to be with my family and get some rest.  I’m so thankful that we’re still close enough to meet in the middle every once in a while.

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Since it’d rained on our tents, we had to set them up when we got home.  And since we don’t have a backyard to set them up in (and I don’t think we’d get away with setting them up on our back porch), we had to put them up in our house to dry out.  It was lovely.

The bigger one was in the living room, along with the table and camping chairs…

…the smaller one was in the office…

…and the rain covers and tarp were in the guest bathroom.

It was VERY nice when we finally got to put them away on Tuesday.

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But even with us having to set up camp in our house afterwards, I wouldn’t change a thing about the weekend.  It was SO good!

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–Staci

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Q for you:  When was the last time you went camping?  Did you stay in an RV or tent camp?

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The Best Playlist Ever

Michael and I have what we consider the best playlist ever.  It’s the one we hate to hear end after 53 songs…  The one that makes people driving next to us think we’re crazy…  The one that “takes us back” to somewhere between elementary school and high school with every song…  The one that we keep going back to over and over and over.

And today I’m going to share it with you.

You’re welcome.  : )

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  1. If You’re Gone — Matchbox 20
  2. Only Wanna Be with You — Hootie & the Blowfish
  3. Bittersweet Symphony — The Verve “
  4. When I Come Around — Green Day
  5. Black Balloon — Goo Goo Dolls
  6. Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) — Offspring
  7. Absolutely (Story of a Girl) — Nine Days
  8. Semi-Charmed Life — Third Eye Blind
  9. Everything You Want — Vertical Horizon
  10. When It’s Over — Sugar Ray
  11. How’s It Going to Be — Third Eye Blind
  12. Never Let You Go — Third Eye Blind
  13. She Will Be Loved — Maroon 5
  14. Fly — Sugar Ray (feat. Super Cat)
  15. Wonderwall — Oasis
  16. God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You — N’Sync
  17. Glycerine — Push
  18. I’ll Be — Edwin McCain
  19. Meet Virginia — Train
  20. Unwell — Matchbox 20
  21. You’re a God — Vertical Horizon
  22. Be Like That — 3 Doors Down
  23. Mambo No. 5 — Lou Bega
  24. Walkin on the Sun — Smash Mouth
  25. Real World — Matchbox 20
  26. Every Morning — Sugar Ray
  27. Bent — Matchbox 20
  28. Drops of Jupiter — Train
  29. Champagne Supernova — Oasis
  30. One Headlight — The Wallflowers
  31. Scar Tissue — Red Hot Chili Peppers
  32. Fly Away — Lenny Kravitz
  33. 3 AM — Matchbox 20
  34. Cherry Cola — Savage Garden
  35. Back at One — Bryan McKnight
  36. Slide — Goo Goo Dolls
  37. Push — Matchbox 20
  38. Truly, Madly, Deeply — Savage Garden
  39. Rock-A-Bye — Black Buddafly
  40. Iris — Goo Goo Dolls
  41. Freshman — The Verve Pipe
  42. Beautiful Oblivion — Eve 6
  43. Kiss From a Rose — Seal
  44. Back 2 Good — Matchbox 20
  45. Here is Gone — Goo Goo Dolls
  46. Tearin’ Up My Heart — N’Sync
  47. Wherever You Will Go — The Calling
  48. Deep Inside of You — Third Eye Blind
  49. All Star — Smash Mouth
  50. Save Tonight — Eagle Eye Cherry
  51. Someday — Sugar Ray
  52. Jumper — Third Eye Blind
  53. Sympathy — Goo Goo Dolls

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Anything we should add from this era?  What are a few songs on you “Best Playlist Ever”?

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–Staci

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Marathoning TV Series

Michael and I have a thing for marathoning TV series.  It seems to have become a sort of tradition for us.

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FIRST MARATHONED SERIES:  “The Office”

Two summers ago we decided that I needed to catch up on “The Office” before the next season (at that time it was Season 5) started in the fall.  Michael had been a fan from the beginning, but I’d never seen an episode.

In fact, I hadn’t even heard about “The Office” until I was at The Forge (leadership training program), and then it was impossible to do anything to right that wrong since we weren’t allowed to watch TV (or movies) for the duration of the program.

After I graduated from The Forge, we started watching through the seasons.  Michael already owned all of the seasons on DVD, so it made for cheap date nights.

We were engaged and we’d decided to not be in a house by ourselves, so we watched many-an-episode either on my porch or at the park.  One of my favorite times was when we were shopping in Norman, OK one day.  I’m pretty sure we were registering for our wedding gifts.  Anyway, we had brought Michael’s laptop, along with one of the season DVDs (of course!), and we decided to sneak in an episode (or two, or three) while we ate.  So we bought Papa John’s pizza and had a picnic close to the university while we caught up on some more episodes.

We finished the first 4 seasons in plenty of time for Season 5 to air.  And for the past two years, we’ve watched it (usually online after the TV showing) at the normal pace.

WHAT WE LOVE:  “The Office” cracks us up.  Creed is probably both of our favorite character;  he says the most ridiculous things and he’s such a creeper (but in a funny way).  It’s hilarious to watch the characters interact.  There are so many awkward characters, which makes for so many awkward moments.  It’s classic.  I think the thing we love the most is that it’s a brainless break with lots of laughs.

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SECOND MARATHONED SERIES:  “24”

This is one that I was a little hesitant to start watching.  I’d seen part of one episode with Michael and my roommate, Maranda, when we were sophomores in college, and I couldn’t understand any of it.  I definitely didn’t see what they hype was about.  I was really confused about the whole “real time” thing.

Michael, however, had started watching it the Christmas break before.  Seasons 4 and 5 had been on sale at Blockbuster, and he decided to go for it.  He and his mom were the only ones home and they both got HOOKED.  They watched Season 4 in 2-3 days, and then watched half of Season 5.  He finished 5 right before classes  started in January — just in time to watch Season 6 as it aired.

The winter/spring after we got married, Michael would catch Season 7 on HULU after they aired each week.  (By the way, between 6 and 7 was The Writer’s Strike” so they didn’t have a season.)  He was always SO into it, but I wasn’t really interested.  Besides, I was SO busy trying to finish school.

After I graduated at the end of last summer, I told Michael that I’d try to watch a couple of episodes of Season 1 (he’d bought this one too, but he’d never seen it).  Let’s just say “a couple of episodes” turned into us watching (and buying) ALL of the seasons before Season 8 aired this past January.

That’s 7 Seasons + 24 hours each — which equals 168 hours (plus a 2 hr feature in-between 6 & 7) in 6 months!!

We barely finished Season 7 (which is by far the BEST season) in time to catch 8 before they took it off the computer.  Michael had already been obsessed, but he told me that I was officially obsessed the night I wanted to stay up and watch 2 more episodes even though it was “past my bedtime”.  What can I say, it’s a great show!

WHAT WE LOVE:  24 is about as suspenseful as you can get (in our opinion).  We absolutely love how it pulls you in and you “have to” finish the season once you start it.  The writers were absolutely ingenious to do the show like they did.  We love the fact that it’s in “real time”; it’s awesome to be able to see the events unfold over the 24 hour time period.  When I first started watching it, I was so impressed with the multiple camera angles on the same scene.  They just do such a great job.  We also like how attached you get to the different characters.  Jack is our favorite (I mean, come on…he’s Jack Bauer) and Tony is my #2, while Bill is Michael’s.  We’re so sad to see it end, but we’re really excited about the possibility of a movie in a few years!

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THIRD MARATHONED SERIES:  “LOST”

Neither one of us had ever seen “LOST”, but we know lots of people who are/were completely obsessed with it.  It was one of those things that we just didn’t know if we wanted to commit to it or not.  But when “24” ended in June, we promised Danna and Jonathan that we would start “LOST” if they would start “24”.

So we watched the pilot episodes of each show together, and then switched DVDs.  People had told us that if we liked “24” we’ll love “LOST”, but it was nothing like it.  They’re completely different types of shows.  We really liked “LOST” from the beginning, but it’s not like “24” at all.  When we watched “LOST”, we felt like we were watching a good novel — if that makes any sense.

We watched it leisurely since  there wasn’t any big deadline to make (like with the others).  However, somehow we still ended up finishing it in less than 2.5 months.  We loved that we didn’t have to wait weeks and months and years to get to the end.  I don’t think we could have done it if that was the case.  There were just WAY too many questions at the beginning (and throughout the other seasons) and it would have been frustrating.  But watching it like we did was great!

WHAT WE LOVE:  Like I said earlier, we loved that it felt like we were watching a really good novel (think Ted Dekker).  The writers and cast did an absolutely incredible job developing the characters.  We truly felt like we were a part of their lives.  One of our favorite things was watching one of the characters go from being an absolute jerk to a leader who actually cared about people.  From the beginning, we were more into the characters’ stories than having all of our questions answered, so we thought the ending was perfect!  We also liked how they weren’t afraid to bring up religion and all kinds of issues in the series.  It gave us SO much to talk about — we only wish that we could have talked to other “LOST” fans about it while it was happening instead of after the show was finished.  Michael’s favorite character is Charlie, with Sawyer and Hurley tied for #2.  Sawyer is my favorite, with Hurley as my #2.  It truly is an amazingly creative show.

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So there you have it…our Marathoned Series.  We’re not TV watchers at all, but we really like movies, and watching the Season DVDs feels more like a movie to us.  There aren’t any others that we’d like to start (unless you have any suggestions).

Since all of “our shows” are over (well, “The Office” isn’t ending until probably after this season), we’re going to give a new show a try.  “The Event” on NBC.  We’ll probably have to watch it online after it’s been aired, but it looks really good!

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–Staci

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Q for you:  Do you have any “shows”?  What are your favorites?  Any you’ve seen advertised for the fall that look good?

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Books Page

I just wanted to let you all know that I’ve added a Books Page to our blog.  You can click on the tab at the top or the list at the right.  Each book has a short description and what I thought about it.  You can click on each title to see that book on Amazon.  Right now I only have one genre up but I’ll be working on adding more all the time.

YEP.  I’m a nerd.

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–Staci