Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts


quotes from the saints on st. valentine's day

This is a collection of quotes about love pulled from the works of saints who have gone before us. I copied this directly off someone else's blog and printed it for my liturgical notebook, but I didn't write down the source. If you know the source, please tell me so I can put credit here!

"The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love; It signifies Love, It produces Love. The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life." St. Thomas Aquinas

"Pure love... knows that only one thing is needed to please God: to do even the smallest things out of great love - love, and always love." St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul

"Intense love does not mesure... it just gives." Blessed Mother Teresa

"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like." St. Augustine of Hippo

"The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist." Pope St. Gregory the Great


confessions of a christmas music purist

I have been listening to Christmas music for a week now.

There. I said it.

I used to be one of those hardcore "no Christmas music until Thanksgiving is over" people. MAYBE Christmas music could be playing while we cleaned up the meal. MAYBE. But Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and it bugged me that it would get "overlooked" by Christmas hype.

Also, I can be kind of rigid.

I was sort of lacking in the Christmas cheer last year. It all kind of snuck up on me and all of a sudden it was like December 5 and I hadn't even thought about Christmas. It's fine -- I was a little busy last year. But this year, I am really getting in the mood. I am eagerly awaiting Advent at church, and all the crunchy leaves and chilly weather have me ready to celebrate something. I feel, dare I say it, festive. As festive as a humbugger can get, anyway.

So that's why I've been listening to Christmas music for a week. Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday, but I think it's ok to have it share some space with Christmas this year. It's not like I am NOT going to celebrate Thanksgiving and it's not like it means any less to me just because I am hearing Christmas tunes beforehand.


why I use cloth gift bags

I like to decorate for Christmas somewhere between the day after Thanksgiving and the first few days of December. My decorating isn't a huge to-do, but I do the must-haves. Something else I like to do is buy Christmas presents over the course of the year, and then finish my shopping on black Friday/cyber Monday with all the sales and whatnot. That usually translates into a huge pile of gifts that need to be wrapped.

A couple of years ago, to save myself time and money and also to exercise some budding creativity, I started making gift bags. I buy a couple of yards of Christmas fabric every year in mid-December when it goes on sale and add to my collection of bags. It paid off immediately, and it continues to pay off now both as a money savings and an efficiency thing.

The gift bags are very simple to make if you have a functioning sewing machine. I won't bother with a tutorial because there are about a billion already available. Mine are the extremely simple "cut a rectangle, fold it in half with the right sides together, sew along the two edges that share a corner with the folded edge, flip it inside out, and sew a ribbon about 1/3 down" variety, though I could easily get fancier with hemming and decorative edging and making the bottoms more box-shaped and drawstrings and blah blah blah. I don't have time for that nonsense.

And because I had this nifty stash of gift bags ready to go, I saved myself a lot of time and a LOT of trouble with gift-wrapping. I had a pile of presents to wrap, and I was able to get it done in about 10 minutes. Add another 10 minutes to account for time spent making new bags for the oddly shaped gifts, and I was done.

It was glorious.

File this under "do your single-mom-self a favor."


a hope for this year

With like 7 hours to go, a new friend decided to come over and ring in the new year with Gabriel and me. She's awesome. We had a nice time getting to know each other, marveling at the baby, eating way too many snacks, watching an episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, and then watching the final moments of coverage from Times Square.

New Years has never been a "big deal" holiday to me, requiring fancy plans and new dresses and lots of people. I've got some pretty spectacular memories of new year's eves past, but I'm also no stranger to ringing the new year alone-plus-five-dogs. I had fully expected to welcome 2013 by myself, and that was fine with me. But then my sweet friend came over, and I realized how happy I was to have her there.

I haven't really put a whole lot of thought into this new year. I would crack a joke here about not having time for things like thinking, but it's not really a joke. Mostly, though, I think I've been afraid of 2013, with its promise and its potential and its blank slate...its decided lack of answers.

The truth is, I'm afraid of the (un)foreseeable future. It's so....unknown. In previous years, I had my plans (grad school! career paths!) and my life-structures in place (marriage!) and an inkling of what the adventure might be - or at least a sense that the adventure would be unpredictable but good. These days, there's nothing but a to-do list I know I'll never conquer, a sense of urgency that I can't seem to shake, and the two questions that always lurk just behind my eyelids, ready to pounce when I stop moving for half a second: is Gabriel my only child? and am I doing right by him?

The fact that I don't know the answer to either of those is no small issue for me. In fact, it's kind of terrifying. And this "new year" business conveniently overlapped with Gabriel's first birthday and the year-markers of a bunch of milestones in the demise of my marriage, making my big, scary questions feel bigger and scarier, like a recurring chest pain that might be a serious thing or might just be heartburn, or one of those sores in your mouth from biting your cheek, that you keep re-biting it because it's all swollen and in the way. I'd retire a shirt to the bin of clothes he'd outgrown, and I'd wonder if I'll see it on another baby or if it will be sold to the consignment store in five years. It'd take me weeks to take apart some unused baby gear because I would distract myself while looking for a screwdriver, afraid to acknowledge that he is done with the bouncy seat and maybe we are done with the bouncy seat forever and if he's my only baby, why am I wasting my time on things like folding the laundry and drying the dishes when all I care about is him?

So it was a very big surprise when, at the stroke of 2013, I felt a surge of joy.

Anything could happen this year, I felt somewhere inside. That includes good things. Big things. Happy things.

So I relinquished to God my 2012 and all it brought, I smiled at my new friend, and I sat for a moment, grateful for years passed and for years to come.


Thanksgiving Week: what are your plans?

Maybe you're hosting relatives.

Or maybe you're the one traveling somewhere.

Maybe you don't have plans to visit family - you're an "orphan" for the holiday. Have you found an invitation somewhere? If not, and you're local, you're welcome at my table.

Or maybe you have to work tomorrow. If so, I am inclined to offer you my condolences, but maybe working on Thanksgiving isn't such a bad thing for you. Better tips or overtime pay?

Tomorrow is Gabriel's first Thanksgiving. Now that he's starting to be interested in grown-up foods, he's in for a real treat. And hey, he's sporting two new teeth for the event!

For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful. 


Thanksgiving Week: My Favorite Hallmark Movie of the Holidays So Far

Confession: I've been watching Christmas movies since some point in late October.

In my past life, this behavior would have been shunned. In this current life, however, I need all the cheer I can get, and Hallmark is doing its part!

I have a few staple goofy movies to try to watch every year. My all-time favorite is an odd Mimi Rogers flick called the Christmas List. It that bizarrely bad Christmas movie sort of way.

Christmas movies, as it turns out, have experienced a boom in recent years unlike anything I have ever seen, and I managed to miss out on it because we didn't have cable for the longest time. But one of the perks of my current living situation is that I have access to cable again! Not only does this mean I can watch all the SportsCenter I want, but I have Christmas movies out the wazoo.

In an interesting turn of events, the Hallmark Channel has made a Thanksgiving movie. I'm sure there are Thanksgiving movies out there, but I hadn't really seen any other than the cartoon ones from childhood. Garfield and Charlie Brown and all that.

This movie is called Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. And oh my stars, this movie is so stinkin' cute. Predictable as any Hallmark love story, but so sweet. I loved the characters, it was CLEAN and LIGHT-HEARTED and FAMILY-FRIENDLY, and the acting was even pretty decent. It's about a woman who leads the planning for Chicago's Thanksgiving parade. I don't know if it's still running, but if it is, and you have a spare evening to spend cuddled up under a quilt with the fam, I'd recommend it.

So. Stinkin. Cute.


a new thanksgiving tradition

Around this time last year, I spent a few weeks poking around to find a cornucopia. I found this awesome one (that I still love and am trying to figure out how to rip off) on Etsy, but with a baby on the way I figured it made more sense to find something a little more economical. I ended up finding one at a craft store, probably Michael's, on sale.

Cornucopias are one of the traditional images of Thanksgiving, representing overflowing bounty and, therefore, the many blessings we've received. Lots of families have their own Thanksgiving traditions, but I wanted to start one of my own.

My idea: at some point between its placement on the table and sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, each family member would put something in the basket that represents one thing they are particularly grateful for from the past year. Last year, I put baby socks in the basket. It would be pretty easy as a mom to put something Gabriel-related in there every year, so this year I'm branching out.

If you had a tradition like this in your family, what might you put in it this year?


halloween recap

Gabriel got a lot of opportunities to practice being a turtle over the past few days.

First up, the Saturday before Halloween we went to the farmers market in Chapel Hill for their harvest festival. I somehow managed to miss the costume parade (which occurred in the corner of a parking lot) but we didn't miss the Raging Grannies singing such gems as "Food Not Bombs" and "Go Vote," the farmer potluck where we tasted all sorts of yummies put together by the vendors, and the alpaca farmers who I hadn't met yet and who I knew would appreciate his costume.

The next day, Gabriel and I went to a newcomers reception at the church. It was a lot of fun - there was a good crowd, and Gabriel was a little angel as usual (see what I did there?). He's getting quite the reputation around there. It's so cool to see people say "Gabriel's here!" and smile when we walk into a room. Nevermind the fact that nobody says "Ashley's here!"

After the reception we went downstairs and checked out the "Carnifall" being put on by the youth group. It looked like a lot of fun...for kids maybe 4 and up. No biggie - we played with miniature pumpkins and watched the bigger kids go crazy on sugar and cookies for a few minutes.

The next festivities didn't occur until the day of Halloween. That morning was the bible study for young mothers. (Despite the fact that I am nearly 30, I count myself as a young mother. I dare you to challenge me.) By the time 5pm rolled around, Gabriel basically had not napped all day. I took him outside for some photos and then made a Hail Mary-esque attempt at getting him to nap and wake up in time to make the costume contest at the local mall.

Finally, we had BooFest, the neighborhood Halloween party of sorts. BooFest was originally scheduled to take place the Saturday before Halloween, but then-hurricane Sandy had other ideas and the event was postponed. It was pretty fun, though probably a little more interesting for bigger kids who could participate in the activities - corn hole, relay races, cupcake walks, etc. There was a pumpkin decorating contest, which folks entered by bringing their pumpkins from home. The kid winner was a regular pumpkin that had carved-out windows and was painted white to look like Cinderella's carriage. It was complete with some Barbie horses and glitter everywhere. Totally legit. We had hotdogs, too - there's just something about this time of year that makes me need a hotdog. Gabriel had a little bite of chocolate cupcake, but he seemed more interested in smearing it all over his face than in actually eating it.

All in all, it was a great end to the month of October and introduction to fall. Up next, turkey!


gabriel's first costume

Because I have dreams of being that mom, and because I have approximately zero disposable income, and because he's too young to know the difference anyway, I decided to make Gabriel's Halloween costume.

This year Gabriel will be dressing as a turtle. I figured it would be cute because he is crawling and because we call him the little turtle when he pops his head up, it would be "free" because I already had everything I'd need to make it, and it would satisfy my deep, insatiable need to "make stuff." That right there is the costume trifecta for a crafty single mom.

I used bits and bobs from my yarn stash to make several different "granny squares" (actually hexagons) in varying shades of greens and brown. From those, I picked my favorites and then made a total of seven* to assemble for the turtle shell.

Making the shell "blanket" was really fast, and I more or less followed these guidelines.

I seamed them all together (while walking beside the grocery cart at Costco, much to my mom's disturbance), and then had the fun job of figuring out how to get the thing to stay on. Eventually I settled on knitting up a ribbed harnessy-type rig to attach to the front - a stretchy waistband across the middle and then two shoulder straps.

And there we have it! Gabriel the Turtle.

*Ten cool points to the person who can tell me why this is asterisked


Irish Fireside Secret Santa

It should be no surprise that I celebrate Christmas. This year's was great. Really really great. I'm here this morning to share a small piece of it.

Do you know the Irish Fireside? It's a great website and podcast dedicated to Ireland. I've been a listener for years. I just love it. 

Last year the guys at Irish Fireside, Corey and Liam, put together a Secret Santa exchange. I participated, and it was kind of fun but kind of not. I was really excited about the gift I'd sent to my person, but I never heard from her. No response to my emails, no thank you note. It was a real let-down. But that didn't stop me from playing along this year, and I'm so happy I did. 

My gift-giver is a lady in Texas named Judy, who is a crocheter. In her card to me, she mentioned that she crochets things to send to a nun friend of hers in Ireland who sells them for the orphanage (at least, I think that's how the story goes!). She sent me three crocheted ornaments for the tree (two angels and a snowflake) and a celtic cross pendant to boot. I really like the ornaments - they add some personality to our tree. And the pendant is just perfect. Presbyterians, of which I am one, incorporate the Celtic cross in worship (meaning, decor). I like the symbol, and I've been looking at Celtic cross pendants for a little while now, but I haven't found one that I really like. Until now, that is! I really like how the knots in the design mimic the ones in my wedding rings. So cool. These are really special gifts that I plan to treasure for a long time to come. I think Judy and I may keep in touch, too - and that's pretty cool!

Anyway. On to the photos!

What's the best Secret Santa gift you've ever received?


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Image from Homemade by Lisa.

by JJ Leyden

March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day.
There is a gathering of family and friends.
Traditional corn beef, cabbage, and boiled potatoes.

We linger at the table and talk.
There is a catching up on news and gossip.
Drinks are shared and laughter abounds.
Old bonds are re-cemented.
There is closeness available nowhere else.

The dearly departed and their deeds are remembered.
We speak of our children and their accomplishments.
Old family stories, told time and time again,
are told once more, and relished.

A celebration of family and our Irish ethnicity.
Isn't it grand, just being part of it?

John Leyden

I'm wishing a happy St. Patrick's Day to all my friends, 
Irish or not.
How will you celebrate?

(And in case you are wondering, YES, I am very Irish. 
Sullivan on one side of the family tree, Gainer on the other.)


bragging on him

You guys, I have the best husband. Here's how we celebrated Valentine's day, a day early:

Saturday morning we were both beat from staying up watching the Olympics opening ceremonies late into the night. I got up around 7 with the dogs (apparently they were beat too!) and decided I was too tired to be up for the day. So I collected the pups and we went into our room - where the dogs usually aren't allowed - and the 4 of us cuddled for a few hours. It was really cute - Eli is a pro at settling into a pile of blankets and Rory even managed not to fidget for up to a minute at a time. That was something I couldn't pull often - we're pretty set on not letting dogs in the bedroom. But it was a really nice special occasion.

I ended up giving Brian his present while we were all cuddling, because I couldn't wait. It's a universal remote. I know, exciting, right?  Well, we juggle 4 remotes (5 if you count the one for the stereo) and he's been wanting one of those Harmony (read: $$$) remotes for months now. I read a bunch of reviews and found that some people who do get the Harmony have some serious complaints, and I ended up getting the (much more affordable) one that some former Harmony users switched to.

We got up eventually and started poking around for food. Brian put in the movie Troy, which we had been talking about watching a little while earlier, and he played around setting up the remote.

After Troy, we went out to lunch. Brian didn't tell me where we were going, so I dressed in a medium-nice-casual kind of outfit - a maroon jersey knee-length dress, black cardigan, and my boots. Turns out I was really overdressed for where we went - a subversive Mexican-ish place (more like Q'doba or Chipotle) called Illegal Pete's, over by campus. We'd never been there before, and it was great. Not authentic Mexican, but really good. Kind of an anti-establishment choice for Valentine's day, but that's how we roll.

We were near the church and Brian said he needed to swing by, so he dropped me at the Sunflower market so I could pick up some produce and coconut oil - and Girl Scout cookies - and he went to the church. When he picked me up, there was my present! He'd been collecting small things for me that he thought I'd like - two boxes of tea and a mug with Van Gogh's Starry Night on it (he'd heard me mention that I like that painting), a giant kiss, and a hand-made card saying he's hunting down a used copy of Spanish language Rosetta stone for me to get ready for our trip to Guatemala this summer. (I'm sure he'll be using it too!) What a surprise! We aren't really big on Valentine's day, so I was shocked! In a good way :) I'm really looking forward to reclaiming the Spanish language.

The rest of the day was pretty low-key. I had some kind of weird stomach/headache thing  (I was really dehydrated) so we just chilled and watched the Olympics (and I inhaled a bunch of water). Brian caught up on some work and I did some knitting. Not exactly an evening filled with romance, but that's not our style anyway. It was nice to have some down time together. I sure love my hubby.

Do you celebrate Valentine's day? How did you spend your weekend?


New Year, So What

I generally stick to a MWF post schedule - generally - but I haven't posted in almost a week. Each time I've sat here, determined to write something to share with y'all, I get nothing. And it's my fault.

You see, everybody else out there is posting their resolutions goals for the new year (and calling them goals, eschewing the outmoded notion of 'new year's resolutions' for some strange reason). And while that's all well and good for them, I'm not there yet. I don't really know what my concrete goals are. Which makes me feel like I have nothing to say, this first week of January.

But I do know what I want, in a vague and unattainable but easily shaped and mapped out way. And it's not confined to a calendar year. The start date isn't January 1 and the cutoff isn't December 31. I'm talking an overhaul on my (our) modus operandi.  I want less so that I can have more. This is something I worked toward last year as we prepared to move, and have continued to do as I unpack all of our belongings and decide what stays and what goes.

What does that mean? Here are some of my thoughts.

I want less stuff, to have more space to live. Lower spending to have higher savings and maybe a house toward the end of the year. Less time wasted (hello, Google Reader) to give way to more time spent on things that matter (like reading, and drumming up some freelance work, and knitting, and walking the dogs an hour or so each day). Less time being 'busy' at home, where I am alone and isolated, and more time being OUT, doing things, seeing people, making friends.

Less pee in the carpet, so the smell is less bad, so that I can invite [more] people over. Rory, I'm looking at you.

I think my overall approach to this new year - this new life in Colorado, really - is to simply. Take a look around, boil everything down to the essentials, and free up the time, the space, the resources and the brain power, to do the things that really matter to us. We have so much stuff, so much going on, so many to-dos. How much of it actually matters? And what is it preventing us from having, or doing, or spending time on?

People. Eli and Rory. Giving. Becoming more self-reliant. Getting outdoors. Traveling around this new state of ours. For me, having high-quality yarn is big. As is learning how to grow things. And spending a lot of quiet time, learning who I am and letting Ashley come through, rather than studying up on how I 'should' be or look or do or decorate. (Brian might add sub-zero sleeping bags and trips to the lake and these things called Yak Tracks.)

I really want to get rid of the white noise in our lives, so to speak. Make more room for people, not stuff, as my sister-in-law aptly put it. That's what I want this year.

What about you?


Christmas Tear-Down

At the church of my youth, the contemporary (and the largest) service was at 9am in a giant multipurpose room called the Center for New Life.  We had church setup and church tear down.  I don't remember when setup happened, but tear down happened at the end of the Sunday service.  Everybody stacked their chairs up in the back, put the hymnals away, moved the communion table (which we mistakenly called the altar) back to its weekday place, etc.  Every week there was a list of families in charge of making it happen.  It was regular - a set thing.  You knew when tear down was supposed to happen.

Not so with Christmas.  Our tree is dried up, our stockings are empty, there are no more presents to open, and I am debating whether I should let it linger, or if I should put everything away and get back to the business of unpacking.  Most years I am all about the lingering and letting Christmas extend way into the new year, but I began feeling the tear down itch first thing Saturday morning and I haven't been able to shake it yet.

How long do you leave your Christmas decorations up?


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my friends who celebrate!

Please enjoy this view of our supremely crooked tree.


Advent Wreath on the Mantle

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Growing up, I kind of missed the whole Advent boat. I didn't learn much about it at church and I didn't learn much about it at home.  Advent was, in my eyes, church lingo for 'the Christmas season.'  In recent conversations, I've learned that a lot of churches fail when it comes to teaching about Advent.  If you missed that one Sunday school lesson or that Bible study night, you're in the dark.  We light these random candles up by the communion table (not the altar, as so many people call it) or on the chancel (maybe it's a pulpit to you) and read some stuff and then get on with the service.

In the past couple of years, my attention has been turned to Advent and learning what it's all about.  I get the hope/peace/joy/love thing now, the quietly preparing our hearts for the arrival of the Savior thing.  Advent has added a whole new dimension to my experience of Christmas.

For a couple of years now, I've wanted to make an Advent wreath. As an Advent 'novice,' I thought there was a specific way to make a other words, a right way or a wrong way.  I thought it needed to be round. I thought there had to be greenery. I thought you had to have the right colored candles or else your Advent wreath wasn't really an Advent wreath. I just didn't know any better.  So I bought a foam ring, but the process stopped there.  Because I don't know how to build an advent wreath from a foam circle.  As Advent arrived this year, I sighed and thought about how maybe by next year I will have figured it out.

And then I read this post by Rachel from Small Notebook.  And I realized that an Advent wreath is really just 5 candles, with one taller or bigger or otherwise distinguished from the rest.  There aren't really rules to follow.  There isn't a wrong way to celebrate Advent.

It's amazing how bound up we can be without even realizing it. There is so much freedom to be had when we lose the fear of doing something incorrectly. Flylady has so much to say on this very topic (and for those of you who are struggling with feeling overwhelmed, I encourage you to check out Flylady. She has changed my life, for the better).

I went to my candle/vase shelf in my linen closet (I have a linen closet now!!) and pulled out five candle holders - four little red ones I'd just picked up from Pier 1 on the clearance shelf as a whim, and a red-and-gold cut glass one my mom gave me a few years ago.  Up they went on the mantle.

And now we have an Advent wreath.


christmas doesn't look as good this year

I spent most of yesterday wrapping up and boxing all our Christmas gifts for family back east.  I am looking forward to what might become my new Christmas tradition:  setting up a wrapping station in front of the TV, munching on a giant Hershey bar and watching soap operas.

I have always liked wrapping gifts and coming up with a new way to do it.  This year, my plan was to make fabric gift bags for everything.  And then, I got sick.

SICK.  ugh.  During one of the more inconvenient weeks of the year.  I'd had big plans for this week that's wrapping up right about now: finish unpacking the living room, finish decorating the apartment for Christmas, finish Christmas shopping (that was supposed to be this past weekend) and then pack everything up, including making all the gift bags and stamping our 80 Christmas cards, with PLENTY of time to get everything to all the right places before the big day without having to pay an arm and a leg in shipping.

Well, most of that didn't happen.  And saddest of all: I couldn't find my supplies for a backup wrapping job, since there was no way I would make it to the fabric store, unearth the sewing machine, and get all the sewing and wrapping and packing and shipping done in the brief window of feeling like a human that I had yesterday.  My backup plan?  Wrap everything in brown paper, tie with twine, and hand-stamp the receiver's name on the package.  Cute and old-timey and coherent.

Except I couldn't find my twine.  Or my stamps.  (They are probably not unpacked yet.)  Not even my emergency jingle bell stash!!  And I had like 2 hours to get it all done.  No time for trips to the store or anything.

So this year, everybody's presents from Brian and Ashley are wrapped in brown package paper and written on with silver Sharpie.

I make Christmas ugly.

I do take solace in the fact that they will be arriving on time, however.  That counts for something, right?  Even though the wrapped gifts are a bit of an eyesore?


happy birthday boy

I would like to take this opportunity to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers.  (And if you're a reader but not a friend, let's fix that!)  We are spending the holiday with another couple from church - a retired minister and his wife, as well as a couple other guests of theirs.  We are having turkey and pie - and as best I can tell, nothing else.  AWESOME.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish my super secret spy husband a very happy birthday.  For super secret spy reasons, I won't say exactly when his birthday is, but it's always around Thanksgiving, so there you go.  Happy birthday, love.  You are still my favorite, and I'm grateful for another year with you.


oh yeah...the white elephant game...

You know those white elephant games that some groups of fun-loving people like to play?  Where everyone brings a gag gift, and you go around the room taking turns either picking from the pile of gifts or stealing from someone who's already opened one?  

Last month, Pap911 had a big white elephant game as a holiday fundraiser.  I was fortunate enough to get to play.  And I wanted, from the get-go, this pillow that was blue with a brown/white papillon embroidered on the front.  It goes well with the furniture, the dog reminds me of Eli, and I figured that someone would pick it before me, which would mean that I could steal it.  Bonus!  because I love stealing.

Someone did pick it before me, which means that I ended up stealing it, and I blamed Eli for making me do it.  This led to some humorous photo-edited banter, the pinnacle (in my opinion) of which, I thought I would share with you:

Brian informs me that this is NOT FUNNY, but I think it is, even a month later.

Note:  I took the photo but didn't edit it to add the pillow and the words.