Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Memories of Home

I'm a happy subscriber to Sunset magazine. I can't help it. Not only do I love the recipes (cuz, as you may know by now, my husband and I love to create culinary masterpieces in the comfort of our own kitchen), but I also love the articles on NW gardens and weekend getaways.

This month (well... March), I was delighted to see a segment on the West's Top 20 Small Towns. I love small towns. I always thought I was a big city, urban kinda gal. I probably was for a season. But, now that I've weeded out all the noise and I'm settling into a welcomed, peaceful time in my life, I really miss what small towns have to offer. It breaks my heart when I wake up in Salem every day - a town that offers so little; void of identity, ownership, community and heart, but yet has so much potential! I dream of living in a small town again....

I grew up in Corvallis, Oregon. I had a great childhood (in some ways), but once I hit the teen years, I dreamed (drempt? what is the past tense of dream?) of a place where I could spread my wings and taste freedom. (So, I ended up in Los Angeles... Got my taste. Check.) Now, I dream of returning. I love Corvallis. It's such a cute little college town with a ton of culture and life. There are wonderful little eateries, places to taste fine wine and fine food, enjoy community: the central library, Central Park, the Beanery, hiking not too far off, and lots of friendly faces. Got my tattoos in Corvallis (Sacred Art Tattoo, baby!). I have a ton of great memories - baseball games, football games, swimming at the Aquatic Center, 4th of July at the waterfront, barbecues and my dad's company picnics at Avery Park (where the dinosaur bones are!), Ridgewood Hill (my childhood home) summer cleanup, da Vinci Days, the Fall Festival, just too many childhood memories to count. I drank my first beer (both legal and underage - whoops) in Corvallis. I bought my wedding dress in Corvallis. Floated down the Willamette for the first time in Corvallis... (My favorite Chinese restaurant of all time is there - China Blue. Order the Singapore Noodles if you ever have the chance. They are to die for!) Corvallis sure has it changed over the years. It has become a quaint little city, with lots to offer young and old alike. I would love to raise my children there.

Fun fact: Did you know that no building in downtown Corvallis can be taller than the Courthouse? (Actually, according to city planning, no building can exceed 75 feet, which I believe is just shy of the total height of the courthouse...)

So, back to Sunset, Corvallis was listed as one of the Top 20 Small Towns! Yea, Corvallis! (Read the article here.) Who knew that the town I couldn't wait to leave would end up on the West's Top 20 all these years later. So cool. Hats off to all yous who live in Corvallis. I hope you know what a great little town you live in.

Love is a Many Splendored Thing

Scott and I are ridiculous romantics. Sometimes it gets lost in our play, but that's just one of the ways we show our love for each other. Cooking together, sharing a fabulous dinner with soft music in the background, planning weekends away....

When I look back on our courtship (and I use that term deliberately; we never "dated", we ourted), I'm pleased at the way we laid the foundation of our future and our marriage. For our first "date", I surprised him in California for Valentine's Day. We went to Gladstones in Malibu for dinner. We didn't really talk about dating at the time... We just sort of felt like that was the next step after we confessed to one another that we wanted to pursue more than just the goofy friendship we'd been rockin' for the several years before. I took him home to meet my aunt and uncle (my parents, for all intents and purposes). My uncle took me aside and said in a very fatherly way, "Do NOT let him go!" That was the first time he EVER approved of anyone I brought home for the folks to meet... And not only approved, but basically said that he would disown me if I didn't marry him. A fact that he was eager to share at our wedding reception almost 2 years later. Embarrassing.

Scott was attending grad school at Talbot at the time, and we realized that distance was difficult. I had moved to Oregon, he was in Southern CA.... We made the best of it. A few trips back and forth for visits... Travel was getting old, as were the long email conversations and IMs. One of the ways we bridged the distance was through a shared journal. We both wrote a page as an opener... Then we would send it back and forth, sharing our thoughts and trials, and celebrating what God was doing to bring us together in love. He would have it for a couple of weeks, then he'd send it to Oregon and I'd have it for a couple of weeks; back and forth it went. It's wonderful to have a written log of how we fell in love, and all the little bumps along the way. I think that is one of the reasons why we have such a great marriage now. We learned to communicate in very a honest and open way. We had to. If we had any chance of making it work, we had to face the obstacle of distance and find another way of sharing our lives. This journal was our window into one another's heart. It's really beautiful to read through it again.

It's also fun to look back and seen how far we've come. We dealt with some pretty tough stuff early on. Our entire engagement was a training ground for marriage. A lot of couples use that as a time for fun and games, but, ya know, marriage isn't about fun and games. Really, bottom line, marriage is about Jesus. And if we wanted to honor Jesus via our marriage, we knew we had a lot of changing to do. We both came with past hurts, pain, issues and insecurities. I actually take quite a lot of the burden just because I had quite the past. (What a blessing it was that my beloved offered such grace... He's so like Jesus in that way.) But the truth is that we both needed Jesus. When you're first in love, it's easy to see all the good, and, oh, isn't he perfect? I think that's why the first year of marriage, for so many, is bliss; the honeymoon period. What happens when that wears off? Ah, yes. Reality of the little things sets in. Toilet seat is up. (Or, for him, the toilet seat is down.) One is tidy, the other messy. One eats junk food and likes to have it well stocked in the pantry. The other is an organic health nut and despises the sight of pre-packaged food. Enter your own list - you know you could make one at least 150 items long.

For us, we used our engagement and our first year as an opportunity to lay the framework for the next 50+ years, God willing. It wasn't bliss. It was hard. It was really hard. We had to look in the mirror and see ourselves for who we really were - broken, fallen, imperfect, selfish, impatient, unkind, etc. etc. But we gave each other room to grow. We allowed mistakes to happen. We talked about our pain and our sufferings along the way. We didn't blame the other. We didn't point at one another. We looked at ourselves. One of the biggest lessons to learn in marriage is how to truly put the other person first and serve as if our life-mate was our ministry. That's what Jesus did. He served. And since we want to look like Him, we, in turn, served one another.

Listen up. If you're suffering in a marriage that is unkind (in word or deed), selfish and constantly at odds, what are you doing to contribute? Do you react in an unChristlike way? Do you use words to hurt? Why? I tell you, if you use your words to build up, edify, bless and honor, your marriage will change. Maybe not overnight, but it will change. When you speak words of blessing to your spouse in every situation (even when you're pissed beyond comprehension), it will diffuse the situation rapidly. Trust is built. You learn to lean on one another. It's pretty amazing.

We don't have this down perfectly, but we're getting pretty good at it. Scott was my best friend going into it, but now he's my best friend, my lover, my better half, my mate, my joy. We enjoy a darn good marriage. And I think we bring honor to God through it. I can't think of a better gift to give my son than a picture of what it means to follow Jesus, and what it means to love.

Scott, my love, I'm grateful to you for all you are and all you aspire to be. I'm honored to be your cheerleader in every decision you make on behalf of our family and your ministry. I trust and believe that you desire above all else to follow Jesus and that you love Him above anything else - including me. And in that, I can't think of a better way to be loved. I'm grateful for all the sufferings that we've endured together, and for our hearts that have been interwoven. You're beautiful. I adore you.

The very thought of you makes my heart sing,
Like an April breeze on the wings of spring
And you come to me all your splendor, My one and only love
The shadow's fall and spread their mystique charms
In the hush of night, while you're in my arms.
I feel your lips, so warm and tender, My one and only love
The touch of your hand is like heaven.
A heaven that I've never known
The blush on your cheek whenever I speak,
Tells me that you are my own
You fill my eager heart with such desire
Every kiss you give sets my soul on fire
I give myself in sweet surrender, My one and only love
"My One and Only Love"
(Written by Louis Armstrong... who knew?)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bathroom stories

Everyone loves a little potty humor. Don't lie. You may say out loud that it's entirely inappropriate, but you know you secretly laugh inside when someone farts.

It is in that spirit that I share the following bathroom stories:

  1. Squiggle Poop
  2. Whistler Mountain Poop
  3. Tiny Zoo Potty
  4. Human Poop in the Living Room
  5. The Flaming Poop

I was reminded of a couple of these stories last week just through innocent unrelated conversation. It's funny how one or two words can remind you of random incidents.

Anyway... here we go.

I don't know what it is about siblings growing up. Perhaps you can relate. My sister and I, when we were very young, were always intrigued by each other's poop. If it was big or funny shaped, we always called the other into the bathroom for a little gander. For some reason, this seemed normal. (I actually can't believe I'm writing about this in my blog... My sister is going to kill me.) Anyway, one day when I was probably 5 or 6 (my sister was 7 or 8), I'm just minding my own business when I hear, "Ky! Come quick! I have to show you something!"

The fervor in which this was declared would tempt any naive child. So, baited, I ran into the bathroom sure to be astonished by the poop that would be exhibited there. To my horror and amusement, as I peered over the top of the porcelain, I practically had to rub my eyes in utter disbelief. What was floating in the water was unlike anything I had ever seen in all my young years. White, squiggly poop. (As an adult looking back, I would swear it was a huge tape worm. That's exactly what it looked like.) It was amazing. I just looked at my sister and said something to the effect, "Something is wrong with you."

Fast forward at least a good 15 years, and after having told this story at least as many times, my sister, one fateful day, confessed the truth. She took me aside and quietly reported that she had, in fact, taken a tube of suntan lotion and squirted it into the toilet. (What would possess her in the first place is truly beyond me.) It all became crystal clear. Why, after 15 years, I still believed that her poop would actually be white and squiggly in and of itself is hilarious. Then, top that off with the fact that it wasn't poop, but suntan lotion...

Lesson learned #1: Never believe a thing your older sister tells you.

As you may know, my husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our nuptuals each November. We typically go some place fabulous,; often times the location is a surprise to me. On our second anniversary, Scott was taking care of all the travel arrangements and just told me to pack warm. I had no clue where we were headed. Such fun!

The surprise: An 8 day vacation to Whistler, BC. We stayed at the Whistler Fairmont Chateau - a gorgeous hotel with all the amenities. The evening we arrived, we enjoyed relaxing facials in the 5-star spa. It was awesome. He done good.

For 8 days, we took long, refreshing walks, all around the Village (lovingly referred to as the Willage) and the outlying areas - golf courses, lakes, beautiful vacation homes, etc. We hiked to our favorite little breakfast place each morning - probably about 3/4 mile from the Fairmont. We usually hiked back to our room for a mid-morning nap, then head out again for a long walk in search of a unique lunch experience. This particular morning, however, we had just finished a fairly large breakfast and felt like we should probably walk it off. So, instead of heading back to the room, we headed in the opposite direction towards Alta Lake (I think - location matters none). It was a long, long walk. We walked through the Willage, to the Whistler version of the suburbs, where we were met with several posted trail maps. We chose a direction that we knew would take us another 2-3 miles, around this beautiful marshy area to a lake. We were about a mile in and I realized, I had to go. So, we kept walking until we found another posted map, which would give us an indication of where the public restrooms were located. (I had some facial tissue in my coat pocket - I never leave on a hike without them!) But, it wasn't like these trails were void of other hikers. So, it wasn't as simple as just hopping off the trail and squatting next to a tree. (HA!)

45 minutes into the walk, I was really needing to go. And not just, "Gosh, it'd be nice to go to the bathroom." I'm talking about the gotta-go that makes you grumpy. #1 and #2 grumpy. And growing more irritated and rather anxious by the minute. Scott was just moseying along, taking in the gorgeous landscape as I was nervously trying to rush (without running) down the trail. Finally, in the distance we saw the restrooms. I was almost as relieved as I would have been actually using the restroom. By this time, I was power-walking. (All I can say is thank God I was blessed with bladder control.) We got about 100 yards when I thought outloud, "Oh, geez, I hope they're open. It'd be just my luck that they'd be locked." Scott assured me that, certainly, they would be open.

Au contraire. To my horror and consistent with my luck, they were closed. I don't remember exactly, but I'm quite certain that at this time, I swore. A lot. There was another little building back in the main park by the lake, just 75 yards or so away. I'd try them. I'd try anything.

Nope. All was in lock down.

Side note. While vacationing in the off-season is awesome for the bank account, it sometimes is not awesome for available amenities. Note to self.

Scott, by this time, was amused by my urgency, but also annoyed that I was snapping at every little breath he made in my direction. He was not helping.

I looked back to where the restrooms were, and noticed a small trail that led to the woods, along the railroad tracks. I just looked at Scott and said, "Let's go." He knew what I meant. He's very intuitive that way.

We hiked several hundred feet into the woods. I was getting my facial tissue ready (which is the very reason I carry it) looking for the lucky tree that would block the view of my back side from the trail. Scott's responsibility was to ensure that no other hikers would unknowingly bump into me.

I identified a massive tree, ran to said tree, dug a quick hole, dropped my pants and squatted.

Ahhhhhh.... Sweet relief. #1 followed by an urgent #2, my senses began to come back to me. As I squatted, I decided to take in the scenery. A beautiful view... Tall pines, fresh air (relatively speaking)... I looked back over my shoulder to make sure Scott was standing guard, when I heard a very loud engine roar past. Gosh, that sounded like a semi... In the middle of the woods? Nah... It was then I realized I just might be taking a poop in someone's back yard. Just several yards away was a huge picture window directly facing my butt. Oh, and that was the highway just several yards past that.... As I was busily cleaning up and burying the evidence, I thought to myself, "I wonder if I ruined someone's morning coffee...."

Lesson learned #2: The woods have eyes... and living room windows.

About 4 years ago, Scott and I flew out to Chicago to visit family - mom, bro & sis-in-law. We headed out to the zoo one fateful day... Five of us all smooshed into a little 4-door sedan (emphasis on the “little”) flying down the highway until… we hit traffic. And lots of it. Not a big deal, really, under normal circumstances. But, I really had to go. It’s one of those things that as time progresses, things stop being funny and start being more serious. That’s because you’re seriously concentrating on not peeing your pants. At least I was.

So we finally made it, and, just my luck, there were restrooms right by the front gate. Wahoo! True to form, there were no lines going into the men’s restroom, but the line for the women’s wrapped around the side. Yea.

Standing in line, doing the pee-pee dance, minutes passed, and I was, at last, next in line. The first stall door opened, and I rushed in…

Now… I had never seen one like this before. In fact, I didn’t even know they existed. But, had it been under normal circumstances, I would have thought, “Whoever thought of this is brilliant!” And not only brilliant, but most likely a millionaire. There before me, was a teeny, tiny toilet. Probably only 12 inches from floor to seat. The thought flashed through one-half of my pee-filled brain, “You should wait for an adult-sized stall…” And then the other half responded, “Do you want to have an accident?” Knowing that my answer was “no”, I decided to use the tot-potty. So… down came the pants, and down I squatted… lower… lower… lower…

Once again, as I was feeling the sense of sweet relief, my cognitive abilities regained strength and I realized… Wow… These stall walls are really high.

As I began to analyze the wall height in relation to the elevation of my tush, I quickly reasoned that, indeed, my butt was lower than the walls. Which meant that everyone standing in line was at this very moment observing an adult butt hovering over a tot-potty. Lovely.

I hurriedly finished my business, washed my hands and fled. I’m pretty sure that I would never see any of these people again in my life.

Lesson learned #3: Tot potties are for tots.

Everyone loves a naked baby. There is something so cute about a tiny little naked person running around the house. Little chubby legs and chubby feet pitter-pattering… Jeffrey LOVES to be naked. In fact, once he gets a taste of freedom, he will stop at nothing to keep from getting captured and forced into a giant cotton-filled pad we call a diaper. It isn’t often that we let him run around like this because, with boys, the mess is more far-reaching than with a girl, if you know what I mean.

Several months ago, just after bath time, I let Jeffrey run unabashed throughout the house. I thought, very naively, that it was safe. Scott, sitting on one couch, and I on another, watching proudly as our son danced and giggled. A beautiful thing.


I heard, “HE’S POOPING!” My head whipped in the direction of my son. And to my horror, he was now squatting on the floor holding on to the coffee table, as poop, like Play-Doh from the Ice Cream Shoppe, oozed onto my living room carpet. There really wasn't anything anyone could do. It was already there. Too late.

My husband proudly stated, "I never thought there would ever be human poop on my living room floor." As if it's ok to have non-human poop in the living room.

Lesson learned #4: They make diapers for a reason.

This one is a bit of a repeat, but the story is totally worth repeating. Mostly because hardly anyone believes me until my husband confirms that it is true. Because I've told this in a previous entry (November or December 2006), I won't go into the detail that I once did.

In November 2006, my husband and I were blessed to visit my uncle and his wife (who I will call my aunt, but I don't want to confuse you by saying "aunt and uncle" as if they are relating in any other way other than marriage... which they aren't... we're not from Arkansas....) in Santa Fe. They had just retired and sold their home in Los Angeles where they had lived for... well... forever. They bought this beautiful little adobe in the midst of the Pojoaque Indian reservation. Needless to say, when you live off the beaten path in a little po-dunk town, you may or may not have all the amenities of a the city... such as the city sewer system.

This isn't anything unusual. I grew up on a hillside in the country where we had a well and septic system. Not that different other than the occasional pumping and some extra infrequent maintenance.

But, for some reason, my aunt and uncle were taking matters in their own hands. Literally. Rather than flushing the paper with which you use to wipe your nether regions, they would place it in a trash receptacle (with a lid, but without a trash bag, ewww). We were told on our evening of arrival the proper methods of waste. Awesome. (I'll just say that this lasted, for me, one day - then everything was flushed the way that God intended. It lasted for-never for Scott, who refused to do anything but flush everything.)

One particular day, my uncle, having announced that he was experiencing the call of nature, excused himself for... quite a while. Scott and I played computer games sitting in the living room, while my aunt read in a chair next to us. Ahh, peaceful.

Peaceful until my uncle came a-whistling around the corner with a big ol' wad of toilet paper, and chucked it into the fire place to be burned.

Did you hear what I just said? He threw his poopy-paper in the FIRE! TO BE BURNED!!!!

Now, I was always told that you should never pee on a fire because the smell is something else. Ok... so... what about poop? I'm pretty certain that, likewise, poo and fire do not mix. I'm fairly certain that this might have something to do with pollutants and free radicals and global warming.

Lesson learned #5: Don't roast marshmallows at my aunt & uncle's house.

I could probably write all day about funny bathroom stories, but I think 5 is enough... for now.

Happy pottying!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gossip sucks

There are few things I hate more than gossip.

Proverbs 11:13, "A tale-bearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter."

Proverbs 19:1, "Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips and is a fool."

Proverbs 16:27, "An ungodly man digs up evil and it is on his lips like a burning fire."

Proverbs 10:14, "Wise people store up knowledge but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction."

Proverbs 15:2, "The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness."

1 Timothy 5:13, "And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies saying things they ought not."

So many verses about gossip. Why do you think?

I'm very angry.

Our trust in some people has been severely wounded. It's extremely hurtful when people nose around behind our backs trying to gain information - only in the name of personal gain and satisfaction, and maybe a hint of entitlement - particularly when we have purposefully chosen not share. They're not interested in our privacy, nor in treating information they've been given with due respect. Perhaps not even knowing the whole truth of the situation, they share it like it was front page news.

It's really unfortunate. All it takes is one little slip of the tongue to get the rumor mill running at full bore - and off it goes.

If you're reading this and you're someone who is participating in this, please just stop. If it's not your information to share, shut your mouth. Seriously. Respect my family's privacy. If something is asked about innocently, refer them back to us. If you offer something in the tale-tell gossip sign of "did you know", then you should be rebuked!

At this point, we're very guarded. We have our reasons for keeping our private information just that. So please don't be offended when we say we don't want to talk about it.