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Archive for "Hobbies"

Warren 21 – It’s About Time

Posted on May 21, 2016 by under Confessions, Hobbies, Things to Do.    

When Brian and I first started dating almost 20 years ago, we went to the movies a lot. Probably at least once a week. Sometimes even twice. This diminished over time partly because of the rising cost of going to the movies (after paying for the astronomically price movie tickets and buying concessions, you’re completely broke) but mostly because the experience of watching movies in the theater really wasn’t that great.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. There was a period of time between 2004 and 2007 when we didn’t go to the movies at all and it was strictly because of our finances. We were paying off debt (we kind of did the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace thing even without knowing about him or the concept) and going to the movies was one of the luxuries (among other things like monthly massages and dining out) that we decided we could live without on our journey to becoming completely debt free.

It’s amazing how much disposable income you really have when you’re not a slave to credit card bills and outrageous interest. I think one of the moments of clarity for me was when I looked at a statement and saw $600 in interest. You can buy a lot of stuff with that! And that was only one card! Granted, it was the one with the highest balance, but it should give you an idea of how much debt we had accumulated after a short amount of time. We were paying so much money in interest and not getting anything for it. We both realized that the amount we were paying in interest could pay for the things we wanted/needed outright instead of buying on credit.

Long story short, we paid off all of our credit cards by 2007 and decided to never again borrow money for stuff. We lived a pretty minimal lifestyle. If we couldn’t pay cash for it, we didn’t need it. By 2008 we didn’t have any car payments. And, after not having monthly debt payments, we used the extra money to pay off my student loans. We missed our goal of paying off my loans by 2012. I think it was January or February 2013 when were finally fully paid.

We don’t buy new cars because we don’t like the monthly payments so when I got a car a few years ago, we pretty much paid for it outright. We didn’t want to wipe out our savings account so we financed it for a year and then a year later, when we had saved up enough, we paid it in full. In the case of Brian’s car last year, we just saved and saved and saved until we had enough to buy him his car. That’s pretty much our MO these days to maintain our debt-free lifestyle, we just don’t incur any new debt.

The only thing we owe money on is our house which is the only monthly payment we make besides utility bills. Without two $400 a month car payments, $500 a month in student loan payments, and however much in credit card payments, we really can go to the movies as much as we want. The cost is no longer in the equation. Why then we’re we going more frequently, considering that it’s Brian’s favorite pastime?

One could argue that after a couple of years of forcing ourselves to not go to the movies, we’ve worked it out of our system and simply had no desire to go. If you look at our busy schedule, you could also argue that we’re just too busy to go the movies. Yes, we are super busy but we still found time to watch movies at home. We both really enjoy watching movies (Brian probably more so than me but, I’m not going to lie, I enjoy it too) and nothing is better than watching it on a giant movie screen.

The bottomline is that watching movies at home was a far better experience than watching them in the theater (giant screen and all). We don’t have a giant TV but it’s a decent size. It looked bigger in our old townhouse than it does in our basement. We could probably get a bigger TV but this one works so we don’t need one. The basement is really comfortable and we have the best seats in the house. Even the balcony experience at the Warren doesn’t compare.

Don’t even get me started about the regular theater. Crying kids, chatty teenagers, and (for the movies that we really want to see) you’d have to endure waiting in line or get there early for good seats (because everyone else wants to see them too). I have to be smack dab in the middle of the theater. I’d rather just watch the movie when it’s released on video than watch it in the theater with bad seats. It really doesn’t take long before movies are available on DVD any more these days.

When Warren 21 opened a few weeks ago, we didn’t clamor to it on opening day. I guess we were a bit skeptical. How much could it have improved the general movie watching experience? Honestly? We’d probably still prefer to watch movies at home, right?

Brian and I decided to test this theory last weekend. I owed him a reward for helping with the map painting project at Prairie Creek Elementary with Old Town Rotary. Brian’s favorite rewards are video game playing time and going to the movies. He’s easy that way. Plus, he’d been wanting to see Captain America: Civil War.

We were originally going to take Nickira to see the Jungle Book but she was in trouble for keeping her room clean. Her mom said she had to stay home and clean her room instead. Brian lucked out and got to pick the movie.


Warren 21 is like a theater within a theater. You still enter the theater through the main entry doors like you usually do but then, to get to your theater auditorium, you enter another set of doors. These doors remind me of the entrance to an exclusive, fancy nightly club only accessible to very special people. When the theater attendants simultaneously open both sides of the door in unison, you suddenly hear the sound of angels and it’s like the gates of movie watching heaven just opened.

They’ve really tried to elevate the entire experience (and succeeded). Concession is even upgraded. You can order things that aren’t available at the regular concession stand like real food and alcoholic beverages.


In the auditoriums you sit in recliner seats that are amazingly comfortable. It’s reserved seating so you never end up in a bad seat unless you intentionally choose it. Obviously, Brian and I picked seats in the middle because that’s how we roll. LOL.

There are no screaming kids or unruly teenagers. It doesn’t take long to figure out how to lay back in your motorized, fully-reclining, heated seat (though we didn’t need the heated part last weekend). The only thing left to do is kick off your shoes and enjoy the movie. Bill Warren is definitely on to something.

Yes, the tickets cost more: $12 matinee and $16 evening. After concessions, you’re going to spend upwards of $50. Going to the movies these days is definitely not cheap but, if you enjoy the experience, then it’s worth every penny.

After our Warren 21 trial run, Brian and I came to the same conclusion. We’re putting going to the movies back on the regular date night rotation.

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I Have the Most Awesome Coworkers

Posted on March 10, 2015 by under Hobbies, Projects, Things to Do.    

Fwd: Backstage makeup studio

I have the most awesome coworkers who have taught me a lot, including make up and crafts. Here are some pictures from our outing at Backstage Makeup Studio.


Fwd: Backstage makeup studio

Fwd: Backstage makeup studio

Besides learning about make up, I also learned to crochet. Thanks to Jodi and Krystee’s lunch time lesson a couple of weeks ago.


Crocheting is actually helping my bowling. I’ve bowled a 500 series twice since I learned how to crochet. I consider it cross-training.



Here’s a picture of my 200 game last Wednesday. I hope I can repeat it tomorrow. It’s the cleanest game I have bowled in a long time.


My newly acquired skill allowed me to create this beautiful scarf for grandma.


I foresee handcrafted Christmas presents for everyone this year!

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Things are Getting Serious

Posted on January 5, 2015 by under Family, Hobbies.    


I just ordered a new ball. I haven’t bought a bowling ball in 20 years. Things must be getting serious. The next thing you know I’ll be sporting a wrist brace and everything.

Speaking of, we debuted our new team uniforms at bowling on Sunday. You can’t see them very well in this photo but this is what the outfits look like.



Brian and I already had the sweatpants. We got them at the last Zumba Convention. Brian actually found the sweatpants when he was shopping at the store while I was in one of my training workshops. When I got back to the hotel room and saw them, I sent him back to the store to get me a pair also. They are so comfortable that we’ve been wearing them to bowling every Sunday. Rather than buying a whole new set of uniforms for everyone, I ended up just ordering the same sweatpants for mom and dad. So then I just had to buy us all some black shirts to wear with them. Voila! Bowling uniforms.

Mom and dad really love the new bowling outfits. I shouldn’t have been so surprised, though. How can you go wrong with comfy sweats? I joked today that if we start doing really well, I will spring for “real” bowling uniforms. Like legit bowling polos (complete with our embroidered team name and logo) and maybe khaki pants for the guys and khaki skirts for mom and me. But then, after getting used to wearing sweats to bowing it’s going to be hard to go back to wearing regular clothes. Our current bowling uniforms are super comfy.

Anyway, I saw some videos of the jet black Hammer Taboo bowling ball and it really made me want to buy one. However, dad said that drilling will run me around $60 and it might not even be the right ball for me. He suggested that I talk to someone from the local pro-shop about a suitable ball and if I buy the ball from them then the price of the ball usually includes the cost of drilling.

I still really like the jet black Taboo but after talking to both dad and Kevin Andes at Wichita Bowling Supply I realized that the Taboo may be too much ball for me. I ended up just ordering a Blur Pearl because it’s going to give me more predictable results and will suit my style of bowling better. I’m really optimistic that the new ball will improve my game. Anything is better than my ancient Columbia 300 Quantum, which is at least 20 years old. Surely.

Incidentally, the Blur Pearl is also manufactured by Columbia 300. And, this entire time I thought I was using a 12-pound ball but my current ball actually weighs 13 pounds. I wanted to go up to 13 pounds anyway so I get my wish. LOL. Eventually I’m thinking of going up another pound but it may be a couple of years before I’m ready to throw a 14-pound ball. I need to get stronger first.


Speaking of strong, I’m off to a great start this year. I bowled a 500-series last night. It felt great. I was the only one on our team who consistently bowled above my average every game. I earned my new bowling ball, I’d say!

When I bowl a 600-series I’m totally getting that jet black Taboo! I don’t care if it’s too much bowling ball for me. It will serve as a trophy to commemorate my achievement. LOL.

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Brian Gets Balls, Bowls 172

Posted on May 26, 2014 by under Family, Hobbies.    

Brian inherited a couple of bowling balls from his late grandfather a few years ago, but he never got them drilled. He just kept bowling with them even though they didn’t fit properly. It wasn’t really a big deal when we were only bowling occasionally (as in, once a year, if that). Since we recently joined a summer bowling league with mom and dad, we figured it was time to get the balls properly fitted.


We left the two bowling balls at the bowling alley’s pro shop and they said to just come 30 minutes early the following Sunday to pick them up. For the first time ever Brian switched to a finger tip grip. When he tested the balls, he got three strikes and a spare. He was hesitant to go from conventional grip to finger tip grip at first, but now I think he’s sold. LOL.


With his brand new bowling shoes (only worn twice so far) and newly drilled and fitted bowling balls he was probably feeling pretty legit. He actually bowled better than the rest of us on his first game.


Mom, dad, and I cleaned house last week when we were supposed to be sandbagging and then totally tanked yesterday. Well, dad did alright. Mom and I didn’t live up to our averages. Needless to say, we lost to the opposing team. Blech.


The men carried us last night. It as a little disappointing but at least the other team was nice about it. They didn’t gloat like we would have if we would’ve won. LOL. I’m kidding! We wouldn’t have gloated. We are good sports too. Anyway, congrats to both Brian and dad for bowling above their respective averages.

As for me, I plan to bowl my first 200 game of the bowling league (and my first one of the year) next week. Stay tuned!

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Flip and Ching Join a Bowling League

Posted on May 21, 2014 by under Family, Hobbies.    


After over a decade of marriage Brian and I finally joined our first bowling league. It’s a mixed league at Derby Bowl on Sunday nights. We are on a team with mom and dad. We named our team ALOBAKER because it’s a combination of our last names. Not very creative, but it works. LOL.


Our first league night was last Sunday. We had to be there early for a league meeting, to make some decisions about what to do about the holiday weekend, prize pool, etc. We also had to pay our sanction fees. The guy in charge of the league gave us the option of paying $21 to be sanctioned for a full year or $10 for just the summer league, which is an option if you’re not interested in being eligible for awards.

Brian asked what option I wanted. He was leaning more towards just paying the $10 because he didn’t foresee joining another league after this one ends. I was like, “Hello? Do you know who you’re talking to?” I want to get awards!

We both opted to pay the full sanction fee. Dad hadn’t bowled in a league in several years so he had to pay the sanction fee as well. Mom was already a sanctioned member.

Since the three of us were new league bowlers we had to set our averages. I wanted to set a low one so I could get a higher handicap. I think that was the plan for all of us. It was not to be, though. Dad bowled amazing. I bowled pretty well too despite all my efforts to sandbag. Mom says the more you try to sandbag, the more relaxed you are and you actually end up bowling better.

Let me explain the whole bowling handicap concept. The idea is to add points/pins to the score to make the game more competitive for less experienced and expert bowlers alike. Without the handicap the better bowlers will always win and it wouldn’t be as much fun playing. Handicaps equalize the playing field so as long as you bowl your average game or better then you have a fair shot at winning.

The handicap is based on a percentage of the difference between a bowler’s average score and the basis score. For our league we agreed upon a bowling handicap of 90% of 210. Since I bowled an average of 150 over three games last Sunday, my handicap is 54.

Here’s the calculation:
210 – 150 = 60
60 X .90 = 54

This means that when we bowl next week I get to add 54 points to my total for each game. This is why I wanted to set a low average. I was actually going for 130 which would have given me a handicap of 72. Knowing that I’m fully capable of consistently bowling an average of 150, that would have given me a 20 pin advantage. Now imagine if Brian and dad sandbagged also. We’d win every week!

Alas, I set my normal average. I tried to sandbag, but it didn’t work. Mom blames it on the law of averages — the belief that outcomes of a random event will tend to even out. For instance, she bowled 192 on her first game and 200 on her second game. Guess what she scored on the final game. She bowled a 109. It is a terrible game by mom’s standards but she explains it away as the law of averages at work. Mom’s average is around 170. The average of her three games that night is 167, not far from her typical performance. So she predicted that she would bowl a lower scoring third game because the law of averages assumes that it has to balance out.

I believe in the law of averages over the long term, but I avoid thinking about it or using it to explain events because I think it then becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If you bowl two great games as mom did and you believe that the third game will be crappy (because of the law of averages) then that’s exactly what will happen. Why? Because energy follows thought. I think mom was fully capable of bowling a 600 series that night. She’s done it before so it wouldn’t be such a fluke. She just had to believe that she could do it rather than thinking that the third game was the balancing event according to the law of averages. As for me, I intend to bowl better than my average every week from here on out. I want to win some awards, darn it!

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