Thursday, July 31, 2008


I've entered a karaoke competition from one of my favorite Broadway composers, Jason Robert Brown. Details here. If you would be so kind, would you take a few minutes and listen to my entry - here. If you like it, you can vote for me by sending an email to, with the subject line "I Vote For Amanda Stretch". That's the really important part. If you really like it, tell all your friends, neighbors, and coworkers to vote for me too! Keep in mind that the recording quality is lacking, but at least I didn't record it on a cell phone like one poor contestant.

So, I hope you enjoyed it, and, more importantly, that you vote for me!

Thank you!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Reason

It all makes so much sense now. (click on the images to enlarge)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

The oldest daughter of a friend is probably moving out soon, to go to college, and my friend is curious about the experience of others - when/why the moved, if they ever moved back in, etc.

I moved out the first time for my freshman year of college, and lived in the dorms. Deciding to save money, I stayed home for the next two years (except the two months I was in London for study abroad). It was mostly good, but sometimes finding a balance between adult and child was difficult for all of us. Once I graduated in April (and my really awful year started), I moved in with friends in south Orem in September, the same month I started my first post-college job. Moved here to DC ten months later. It's been two years since then.

My really awful year was, well, just that, and having my parents close by was really good for me, but being on my own really helped me learn a lot. I've learned even more being across the country. I was just telling my mom again last week that I never, ever plan on living at home again, barring any absolutely extreme circumstances, and she completely agrees.

One friend told how when she met her husband " he had recently moved back to his parents due to a failed engagement. They had an entire apartment in the their Avenues (a wealthy SLC neighborhood) home that was empty, and a little hole of a bedroom in the basement - but he was sleeping on a cot next to the washing machine, and paying rent. Wise mother."

There comes a time in everyone's life where they need to learn to spread their wings and fly. Far be it from me to say when anyone else's time is, but I'm glad I found mine. The air is nice up here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Father of Mine

Today is my dad's 50th birthday! Happy Birthday!! Some of the things I've inherited from my dad - musical talent, goofiness, affinity for movies, and a love of people. He really is one of my favorite people in the world, and I'm glad he's in my life forever!

One of the perks of his job is getting to do PR for a Blues Cruise, and what better way to learn about the cruise than to experience it! I'm a bit jealous of the fact that he's been on one or two of these for the last few years. He loves blues music and has been able to rub elbows with several names in the business. I have no idea who he's talking about half the time, but he loves it! There's always someone playing somewhere on the ship, and sometimes he gets to jam with them. Here he is playing the bass with Joe Louis Walker and Roy Gaines on guitar.

Love you, Dad!

Two more years

Yesterday was my two year anniversary of making DC my home! In that time, I've lived in one house, two different bedrooms, had five different couches, and have made countless memories. Every once in awhile, I have an existential crisis about where I'm living and why and how my life is so different now, but the move was the right thing to do. I love living here, the opportunities I've had, and the friends I've made along the way. Thanks again to Cheeky for finding my job!

True to form, Cheeky has found something to make July memorable. She started a blog!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's the little things

I've been on a couple dates recently, and I wanted to share some things that stood out to me. These little things that helped the gentlemen I was with earn points with me, and I'm sure most girls would agree.

Complimenting my appearance - You don't have to go overboard and say something every ten minutes, but I definitely made some effort to look nice for our outing, and it's nice when you notice.

Flowers - They're pretty. Be reasonable, as a dozen red, long-stemmed roses on a first date is a little much. However, seeing the flowers in a vase at home will remind me of the date long after it's over.

Paying for dinner, even after I asked you out - Absolutely not necessary, but a very nice gesture.

Making the most of it - Sometimes things don't go as planned, but having fun anyway is a huge plus.

Post-date text/call - To let me know you got home safe (especially if you live a considerable distance away) and that you enjoyed our date. It also lets me know you're still thinking about me, at least a little.

None of these things are going to make or break an evening, but they certainly add a nice touch.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sing a Song

I feel like I'm singing constantly. If I don't have music playing audibly, there is almost always something playing in my head, or I'm thinking about listening to something. I can almost always come up with a song in response to something that was said or done, and I am, therefore, almost constantly breaking into song.

So, why is it that when my "nephew" is crying, I can't think of a single song to sing? I sang "Popcorn Popping" twice last night because it was the only song I could think of. Twice. (One time, with a different baby, I sang some eighteen verses of "Old MacDonald".) I couldn't think of a single showtune, hymn, pop song, nada. He doesn't understand half of what is said to him, so I could likely sing anything I want to, as long as I sing it in a soothing, happy voice. Yet, nothing comes out.

This happens every time I try to sing to the boy. Stage fright, maybe? I'm afraid he's going to suddenly learn how to talk and then give me some Simon Cowell-esque critique?

Even as I was feeding and rocking him, and listening to his instrumental lullaby song CD, I couldn't think of the lyrics to the songs that were playing.

"Lullaby, and good night, la la la la, la la la."

We opted to just sit quietly.

I need to expand my repertoire of songs to sing to babies.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

525,600 Minutes

Well, I completely forgot about my blog-iversary. It's now been one year and four days since my very first post here at The Book Guardian. It's been a good year, I think. I started school, joined a choir, went on lots of trips, and tried to maintain my sanity, among other things.

Happy Blog-iversary to me!

In other news, this was in the weekly letter from my grandparents yesterday, Grandpa is speaking:

Monday morning started off with a trip to Walla Walla -to see Dr. Tokar-optometrist. Not much change but enough that he recommended new glasses for distance. He mentioned that bifocals would also help, or that I could just buy a pair of reading glasses-either at WalMart or the dollar store. I opted for the reading glasses-I only need help with smaller than normal or lighter print. Priced the glasses at WalMart-$19.00, bought a pair at the dollar store for a dollar. They do help when needed. I still need to get the prescription for the driving glasses filled
That just made my week. [/sarcasm] My 73-year-old grandfather got reading glasses the same week I did. Awesome. My eyes are old. Also, I spent a lot more than that. Hooray! What's actually exciting is that my grandparents are coming to visit me in August! Yay!

So, that's how things go around here. A roller coaster of crazy events. Here's to another year of blogging, with hopefully more ups than downs!