Thursday, December 31, 2009

6 Months Later...

With New Year's upon us and 6 months gone since my birthday, I decided it's time to check-in with some of the goals I set for myself. Especially considering one of my resolutions is to be more accountable to myself and stay committed to things I say I'm going to commit to...

Nike's 24 Year Old Goals Update:

  1. Apply to volunteer at the Portland VA. ---> I have not done this. I am working on making myself useful at work, which will hopefully result in an increase in permanent hours (right now I am working 32-36 hours unofficially).
  2. Seriously make time to practice and study Spanish. ---> I've been speaking Spanish to myself and recently found my books and CDs, so will start studying next week.
  3. Sign up for a monthly volunteer project through Hands on Greater Portland. ---> YES! I love volunteering through Hands On Greater Portland.
  4. Be a team leader for one Hands On project by June 1, 2010. ---> I have led TWO projects and am signed up to lead another two in the next couple months. I also took the training to be a regular Volunteer Leader for The Children's Book Bank
  5. Send a card to someone I have lost contact with weekly. ---> I did this for a month. I suck.
  6. Sew three skirts using the "Sew What Skirts" book. ---> My sewing machine has been out of commission. Jason bought me the part I need, so *fingers crossed* hopefully it fits and I can start taking off with this on Thursday Night Craft Nights.
  7. Blog three times a week for three months, incrementally increase to daily by June 1, 2010. ---> Um, yeah... I'll take a mulligan on this one.
  8. Start running again. ---> I have sort of started running again. Like, once every other week. I forgot this was on my goal list. I have the Hood to Coast deadline looming over me, so that's motivating me.
  9. Apply to a Graduate School of Social Work ---> This has been postponed. I really really really want to go to University of Denver, but it will be another two years before I can apply. Unless I find a school I want to go to half as badly as I want to go to Denver that doesn't require relocating, this will stay on hold.
  10. Learn each of my neighbors' names. ---> I learned the names of all of the neighbors on my side of the drive and then they all moved. The ones on the other side do not want to be my friend. One of the empty townhouses appears to be occupied now, so it may be time for another Neighborhood BBQ at the Bentley's.
Goal Revisions for Goals I Struggle With:
  • Practice/study Spanish on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Send a card to friend/family member once a month
  • Fix sewing machine, then start sewing Sew What Skirts
  • Blog once a week starting Saturday, then increase to three times a week by June
  • Continue doing strength exercises and work in running 3x/week
  • Plan a neighborhood BBQ for March/April, with nametags this time

2009: A Less Than Insightful Review

2010 is upon us, are you ready?! Last year I lifted this exercise from Pink Spandex and it seemed like a worthwhile thing to do again. (For a 2008 refresher, click here.)

I haven't been blogging as regularly, or much at all if I'm honest, as I would like as my free computer time has changed drastically in the last seven months with the boy returning to school. I'll post a blog in honor of So Long 2008 to give a little more depth to my 2009 soon...

2009: The Survey

Was 2009 good for you?
A lot of good came out of 2009, so yes.

What was your favorite moment of the year? Graduating from PSU - finally!

What was your worst moment of the year? The exact moment I realized Gus was paralyzed. The subsequent 24 hours were pretty horrific as well.

Where were you when 2009 began? At the Geiser Grand in Baker City

Who were you with? Some of my favorites

Where were you when 2009 ended? It's here for another 14 hrs and 36 minutes, so I'll tell you tomorrow.

Did you keep your new years resolution of 2009? The only thing I resolved to do was graduate and that I did. Oh, and it looks like I also resolved to keep in better contact with friends and family. I still suck at that.

Do you have a new years resolution for 2010? To keep in better contact with friends and family. <---Let's try that again. Also, to follow through with the not-so-fun commitments I make to myself. Did you fall in love in 2009? I fell more in love.

Did you make any new friends in 2009? No, making new friends is not something that comes easily to me. I became closer to the new friends I made last year. Oh, wait, I did make new friends! I just realized that I didn't know Cliff and Yoshimi prior to May. Now I feel like I've known them forever.

What was your favorite month of 2009? September

Why this month? Jason and I went backpacking in the Strawberry Wilderness for our anniversary and it was the first actual backpacking trip we've taken together.

Did you travel outside of the country in 2009? Still haven't made it to Canada. I have a friend that lives there now, though!

How many different places did you travel to in 2009? Baker, Metolious, Bend, Prineville, Salem, Seattle, Sisters, John Day, Rockaway Beach, Seaside, Tillamook, San Diego, Denver, Santa Rosa, Boise, and Reno...

Did you miss anybody in the past year? My brother while he was on his second deployment and people I let slip away.

What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2009? UP and The Proposal.

What was your favorite song from 2009? The two that popped in my head are both by Kelly Clarkson - "My Life Would Suck Without You" and "Don't Leave." "I Run to You" by Lady Antebellum was also a favorite.

How many concerts or plays did you see in 2009? I don't think I went to a single concert this year... we didn't even go to the Blues Festival. We went to one play (Faith County put on by Central Nazarene) and also went to Central's Evening in December variety show. Wow, we were not very cultured in 2009.

Did you have a favorite concert in 2009? Obviously not.

What was your favorite book in 2009? I became a Twilight addict in 2009. I'll admit it. Twilight and Breaking Dawn were my favorites.

Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year? Nothing comes to mind...

What was the biggest lie you told in 2009? I told the boy there wasn't anything wrong when I was actually quite perturbed.

Did you treat somebody badly in 2009? If I'm honest, yes.

Did somebody treat you badly in 2009? Yes, but I'm learning to deal with it.

What was your proudest moment of 2009? Receiving my diploma.

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2009? I fell down our friends' porch stairs, twisted my ankle (right before a hiking intensive camping trip), released gas, and landed on my backside. My dear husband, instead of saying, "Are you okay?!" when he saw me on the ground yelled, "You just farted didn't you?!" Which made me want the ground to open up even more.

If you could go back to any moment of 2009 and change something, what would it be? I would have said something to that horrible lady at Pioneer Square.

Where did you work in 2009? LifeWorks NW

Favorite TV shows(s) of 2009? Bones, Lie to Me, The Mentalist, Ghost Whisperer, and Criminal Minds

Favorite Band(s) of 2009? Lady Antebellum and Gloryana

Favorite Food in 2009? Sushi

Favorite Drink in 2009? Vanilla Chai Tea and Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte

Favorite Place in 2009? Denver was pretty awesome

Favorite person(s) to be with in 2009? Jason, Aunt Deb, Dad, the Cook Cousins, and Monday Night Posse

Favorite person(s) to talk to in 2009? Aunt Deb, Bobby, Grandma+pa

Favorite trip in 2009? It's really a toss up between Reno and Denver, but the weekend at Marion Forks was pretty memorable as well.

Favorite stores in 2009? Victoria's Secret and REI... that's a random combo.

Hardest thing you had to go through in 2009? Putting Gus down, dealing with repressed memories, and listening to a very dear friend confess what she had been hiding for the last couple years.

Most exciting moment(s) in 2009? Graduating, trip to Denver, trip to Reno, and Christmas

Funniest moment(s) in 2009? The most recent one was sitting on a plane to San Jose listening to the pilot tell us he was going to turn off the cabin lights and then explain in great detail where the button to turn on your overhead light was located and what it looks like. He said multiple times, "It's the one with the light bulb on it," but he said it in such a way it sounded like he was refraining from saying, "It's the one with the light bulb on it, stupid." So Jason and I are already joking about this, when three rows ahead of me a gentleman hits every button except the one with the light bulb on it, including the Attendant call button. I was like, "No, no, it's the one with the lightbulb on it!" Making sushi with Jason, Crystal, and Yo for Independence Day was pretty funny as well.

Happy New year! May yours be blessed with kept promises, fun, and exciting moments.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Breathing Well

"Breathing is the greatest pleasure in life." ~Giovanni Papini

"For most people, taking a breath is just something you do without even thinking about it. But for me, it has become something that is not only on the front of my mind all the time, but something I must constantly work at to get around from day to day." ~Joel Cummings, 7/20/09

I am sitting in a dark office, my chest constricting, and eyes full of tears. I'm not really sure why the news of Joel's passing hit so hard. Less than an hour ago my best friend texted to ask if I'd heard Joel had died. That short sentence transported me back to 7th grade math class. Though Joel and I had gone to the same church for as long as I could remember, we had never really spoken and I cannot for the life of me remember what we were discussing in math class that resulted in Joel saying, "I'll probably die before I'm 20," but those words and the look on his elfin face were burned into my memory.

Throughout the rest of junior high and all through high school it was easy to forget Joel had a terminal illness - Cystic Fibrosis. We traveled together on youth group trips and he was active in tennis. I never saw the appeal of the sport in which felted yellow balls were launched at mach speed at my head, but had several friends who did. Our older siblings dated for awhile, which resulted in several shared meals and holiday celebrations. We graduated from high school in 2003 and went on our separate paths - seeing each other from time to time during the holidays at church, but never really speaking.

It wasn't until several months ago I started hearing rumors that Joel was in desperate of a lung transplant. The town rallied together and organized fundraiser after fundraiser to help Joel and his wife raise the $250,000 needed in hand to be evaluated for a lung transplant. The last I had heard a couple lungs had come through.

Last night, Joel passed on - leaving a young widow, three dogs, his family, and a community grieving. I rejoice in knowing Joel is breathing the fresh air of Heaven with 100% lung capacity now. He's probably playing tennis with the angels as I type this.

Joel, I bet Jesus will school you on your backhand. Peace until we meet again, brother.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pinch Me, I Must be Dreaming!

12,000 runners. World's largest relay race.
1,000 teams accepted and more than 850 teams turned away.
197 miles - from majestic Mt. Hood to the sandy beach of Seaside.

Guess who was not turned away for the 29th Annual Hood to Coast Relay? That's right - ME! My check was cashed in October, but I waited nearly a month for the official acceptance letter. When I found it in my inbox Monday morning I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Because, here's the thing: I am not much of a runner. In fact, I haven't ran consistently in more than three years. One thing I've always known, however, is that one day I wanted to participate in the Hood to Coast. Last year the bug hit me hard and I called my dad and said, "Daddy, I bet you want to run the Hood to Coast for your 50th birthday." Much to my surprise (and delight) he confessed he too had always dreamed of running in this epic relay.

(Of course, this was a little more exciting when NIKE was the lead sponsor. I enjoyed the irony of seeing banners proclaiming "Nike's Hood to Coast Relay" everywhere and was looking forward to having a shirt that boasted the same, but, alas, OfficeMax stepped up as the headliner sponsor this year. So our shirts will scream "OfficeMax's Hood to Coast Relay," which doesn't quite have the same appeal.)

I have been wanting - but not bad enough to actually do anything about it - to start running again and with an August 27th deadline and 9.5 minute mile requirement my motivation has arrived. Team Speedy Turtles is ready to take on the challenge!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On th Edge

(Post started on June 4th.)

It hit me today. In less than 9 days I will graduate from PSU with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. I have been freely tossing around the fact that I'm graduating in a week, but today reality sunk in. And I kind of freaked.

What do I have to show for my (non-consecutive) four years of pursuing higher ed? I have learned the world is so much bigger than me and the town I grew up in. I have learned to listen to ideas that clash with my values and beliefs without accepting them unless their argument proves truer than mine. As Aristotle said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain an idea without accepting it." I hope I'm leaving my undergraduate work with some semblance of critical thinking skills.

As I prepare my final papers, tests, and project I am still left wondering, could I have done better? For some reason I feel like I missed something. Do all graduates feel this way?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What's another year?

My birthday was two days ago. Here is an untimely post that is a testament to how scattered I have been the last few weeks...

In the last year I caught a glimpse of the life a pastor's wife leads and did my best to be supportive. I also learned the importance of having supportive laymen in a church. Laymen make all the difference between the success or failure of a ministry. I am more determined than ever to be a supportive layperson - after taking some time to recoup.

In the last year I welcomed my brother home, only to see him ship off to the Middle East a short time later. I have learned how to say, "I love you" in a multitude of ways cause sometimes the words aren't said before the satellite phone cuts out.

In the last year I made some wonderful new friends and learned to manage life changes. I've had some adventures and learned that growing up is pretty difficult, but each new step is totally worth it.

A year ago I decided to return to school after an 18 month hiatus. In a week and three days I will walk in PSU's commencement ceremony and symbolically receive my Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. (Symbolically because we don't actually receive our diplomas at commencement. Lame.) It's been a six year process, but after a lot of sweat and tears I'm nearly finished.

In my 24th year, I want to live with purpose. Up to this point my life has revolved around school, work, and trying to figure out all my new roles in life. I want my life to be about serving others and not so much about what I want and need. Below is my list, tune in next year to see where I have gone....

Nike's 24 Year Old Goals:
  1. Apply to volunteer at the Portland VA.
  2. Seriously make time to practice and study Spanish.
  3. Sign up for a monthly volunteer project through Hands on Greater Portland.
  4. Be a team leader for one Hands On project by June 1, 2010.
  5. Send a card to someone I have lost contact with weekly.
  6. Sew three skirts using the "Sew What Skirts" book.
  7. Blog three times a week for three months, incrementally increase to daily by June 1, 2010.
  8. Start running again.
  9. Apply to a Graduate School of Social Work
  10. Learn each of my neighbors' names.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


To Do:
1. Final Paper
2. "Where We Stand: Class Matters" reflection paper
3. "Killing Rage: Ending Racism" reflection paper
4. Vision Project
5. Graduate
5. Buy plane tickets - check!
6. Find place to stay - check!

Colorado, here I come! (In a couple months...)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Open Letter to Tri-Met

Dear Tri-Met,

As a dedicated patron of public transportation for the last five years, I would like to take this time to thank you for your service.

First, thank you, Number 4, for faithfully taking me to school and returning me safely home for the first two years I lived in SE Portland. Thank you, also, No. 20 and MAX Blue line for taking me to work, most of the time in a timely manner, when I was a new bride.

I now live on the West side, and my husband utilizes the 54 bus and MAX blue line in the wee hours of early morning when no sane person should be awake. Your bus drivers have only on occasion passed him by while he waited to make the Beaverton Transit connection. (It's not entirely your fault, I told him he should take a flashlight on rainy days.)

Yes, from school to work to jaunts to Saturday Market or to watch the Blazers play a home game, the MAX has become a convenient form of transportation for us. Though often not as fast as driving ourselves, you save us gas money and parking headaches. For this, we are grateful. Unfortunately, I have been noticing some disturbing trends: increase in fare and checking tickets.

Now, first let me explain I understand why you increase fares. People are riding free and you need to make up the loss income somewhere. Punishing those of us who are already paying is not the answer. It just ticks us off and tempts us to stop being model citizens.

Second, checking tickets is a wonderful idea and I support this endeavor wholeheartedly. I do not, however, support your checking people getting OFF the train at PGE. I have to admit, I thought that PGE was the last stop in Fareless Square and based on the people I saw ticketed last week I was not alone in this confusion. Check the people who are continuing on to Beaverton, they are the ones who are stealing from the public. I'm not sure one stop past Fareless Square is worth the time when you have a trainload you're sending West without a second glance.

These are my suggestions: check people on the trains at stops that are obviously outside of Fareless Square, put in a system that prevents people from boarding without a ticket (I believe the BART in San Francisco has such a system), and stabilize fare prices.

Thank you for your years of service getting me where I need to go. You are appreciated.

Faithfully yours...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Things I Keep Meaning to Blog About

1. bell hooks' genius
2. Creating Beloved Community - Roslyn Farrington's lecture
3. Church searching
4. Upcoming events (birthday, graduation, girl day, trip to Denver...)
5. My displeasure with Trimet

Instead, I've been writing papers and getting ready for graduation. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Taste of Lime and Tears

Coast Guard Rescues 9, Search for 4 More Continues.

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Flying Colours.

Newport sailors keep watch for Flying Colours.

Search ceases for boat carrying former Baker City Woman.

Two years ago today I received the chilling call that we all hope only happens in movies. My best friend called me during a mundane day at work, which was unusual since we regularly IMed or e-mailed, and said flatly, "Rhiannon's boat is missing."

That message gave birth to an obsession with Coast Guard news, the Boston Globe, and all things storm and Rhode Island oriented. There is a binder in my closet with every story that ran about the Flying Colours from May 7, 2007 to mid-July of the same year. The cover is the flier that was made for the "Keep the Faith Vigil" that was held in my hometown the day before many of my high school peers graduated from college.

When we lose someone, there comes an obsession with the relationship we had with them and all the could've, should've, would'ves that that entails. I have a lot of should'ves. I should have called and written more often.... I should have asked what was going on in her life.... I should've planned the trip to Rhode Island earlier... Had I known it was the last time, I would have had a less superficial conversation with her....

I feel enormously blessed that I was able to talk to Rhiannon a couple weeks before she left on the trip she wouldn't return from. At the time I was planning my wedding and was so excited that Rhi would be flying out for it. We hadn't seen each other in two years. The picture above is one of my favorites of Rhiannon (middle), Leslie (right) and myself. It has even more meaning to me now because the pictures from that day at the Lake are the last ones of us all together. Some of my best memories are of all of us at the Lake roasting hotdogs, make s'mores, laughing and being ridiculous.

Today I had a lime tortilla chip and burst into tears. Rhiannon loved lime tortilla chips. She brought them on one of our Lake trips and we thought they were the strangest things we'd ever heard of. She insisted they were the best and her favorite. They have since become one of my favorite chips as well and I can't eat them or see a bag without thinking of her. These are the little things I keep with me.

Until we meet again, my friend, fair winds and following seas.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Living Life

On Monday nights I gather with several other friends who I am "living life with." We gather to snack, laugh, read the Bible, and talk about what is going on in our lives. The phrase "living life together" was coined in one of our early gatherings as we were expressing how special the group had become to each on of us individually. We joke and have a good time together, but we also lay all our crap on the table. None of us is perfect and we're all trying to find our place in this world - not only as Christians, but as idealistic 20-somethings that want to revolutionize our world. Together we listen and encourage one another as we journey down the path.

Tonight some of the group was missing and we didn't pick up where we left off in the Book of Acts, but we did have one of those really intimate times that I've come to treasure. We began talking about how we did to go through the motions and "do church" without actually expecting to get anything out of it, while at the same time we've limited God's work to Sunday mornings between 10:45 and Noon. One of our girlfriends told a story of how she had a friend who would ask her what God was teaching her every day. Over time she became conditioned to actively look at her life and see where she was growing (or needed improvement). This in turn led to the seven of us who were there this evening sharing what is going on in our lives.

I am horrible at remembering and/or recognizing the work God is doing in my life. I love hearing other people's stories because it reminds me of things I have to be thankful in my own life. Tonight I was reminded that a year ago I was stressed out about possibly not being able to go back to school because Jason was out of work. I had called a friend and asked her to pray with me about this situation and less than fifteen minutes later Jason called and had accepted a temp position that would last part-way through the Winter term. I am now five weeks from graduation and while we're by no means rolling in the dough, we are sustained. It's nice to have people to live life with who remind you of all the ways God is faithful, cause I would have kept rolling through these last few weeks and possibly not even remembered a year ago I didn't think school was going to be an option.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Things I Take Joy In

People are emotional beings. Some of us more than others. Me more than most. The first couple weeks of May have become rather stressful for me the last couple years as they now mark the anniversary of a horrific point in my life. In an effort to cheer myself up, I have been looking at old pictures and making a list of things that make me happy. Enjoy.

1.Ice cream. Especially with good friends in a foreign country.

2. My sister. She's a good kid and always makes me laugh.

3. My daddy. He's my hero.

4. Traveling and getting to kiss historic sculptures. (Parque Guille)
5. Phillip's Lake - I have many fond memories on this bank made with friends and family alike.

6. Pineapple drinks the size of my head in Mexico definitely make me happy.
7. Being married to the greatest man.
8. Cute Christmas ornaments. And Christmas. And holidays in general
9. Gus & Claire (though Gus is more photogenic)
10. Warm beaches
11. Sunsets.
12. My brother (whom I have posted more than enough pictures of)
13. My friends
14. My nephews
15. Reading
16. Nature
17. Hot baths
18. A rousing game of Canasta
19. Worship music
20. Cuddling

I have a lot to be thankful and there's still a lot of good in the world. Those are the things I should spend more time focusing on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Once a Marine

I picked up Once a Marine on a whim from my local library. It is not often that I come across a book, much less a memoir, that is so powerfully written or where the author's voice rings through so clearly. Regardless of how you feel about the war in Iraq or the military, Nick Popaditch's story is worth your time. Anyone that has ever believed in a cause or built their life around something only to have it snatched away from them will be able to relate. This is more than a war story, it is a story of courage, perseverance, and adjustment. Nick Popaditch has earned my utmost respect and admiration and is the symbol of so many others that go unrecognized.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Claiming the Promise

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. - Psalm 91:1

Sometimes there is bad news after the good. And sometimes life is a little scary. I've just been reminded that sometimes life is cut short. Is it wrong to be thankful that it passed over this time, even though my blessing is someone else's heartbreak?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kol Tzorki

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, she'asah li kol tzorki.

Maybe for Lent I should learn Hebrew blessings. There's always a focus on giving up something, but another side of Lent is to do something. It's all about re-committing and focusing on Christ and the sacrifice he made.

I love listening to Hebrew and, as Rat from "Pearls Before Swine" says, Yiddish is the best language for insulting people. Not that I would ever do that.

This is a lot of blabber to say simply this: I'm feeling really blessed and taken care of. I was pretty distracted by my fears and short-sightedness the last few days, but as always, the Lord provided and we're going to be okay. Maybe someday I'll learn.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Thursday!

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

The "about me" surveys have been spreading like wildfire on Facebook and once again I'm struck by the question, "Why don't we talk about these things?" Granted, it would be difficult to have a conversation covering all of the question floating around, so I am hereby committed to inserting random "about me" survey questions into daily conversation. My husband is going to love that... ;-)

And, in case you were wondering, I'd be Fire Red or Social Justice Green.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Brothers Are For...

My best friend is 16 months, two weeks, and one day younger than me. And I used to hate him.

My first introduction to him was when he was in his seventh month of residence in our mother's womb. Mom called me over to sit in her lap and I was instantly assaulted with a swift kick to the backside. He may not have been ready to come into the world, but he could have given Chuck Norris a run for his money. I wasn't sure I was going to like this new addition.

Grandpa recently told me that Bobby was quite possibly the most beautiful baby ever born. And it's a good thing he got so scarred up early on, cause he was just too pretty. One of the many scars on his face I helped him achieve. (That'll teach him to try and answer the phone when I've already stepped onto the step stool...)

It's funny what changes as we grow up. The boy that used to make my blood boil with anger has become a man that makes my heart swell with pride. The one I couldn't wait to get away from has become the one I miss the most.

I was a mixture of pride and nervousness when Bobby announced he was joining the Marine Corp. One deployment down and another one at its inception, I know he is one of the best. But that doesn't make another deployment any easier to accept. (Especially one that landed him on a plane a week earlier than scheduled. Darn military schedules.)

I heard Dean Brody's song "Brothers" a few weeks ago and it made me cry. Now it makes me cry and laugh cause I can hear so much of my own brother in the lyrics. I spent a lot of our childhood and early adulthood (cause we're old 20-somethings) trying to protect him and our sister. I'm learning to let go, but I also now know he spent a lot of time trying to protect us as well. I know he'll never tell me everything cause he doesn't want to burden me, just like I won't cry until after I've hung up the phone, but I know he always has my best interest at heart. And maybe in the end that's what brothers are for.

Operation Valentine: Oregon Veterans Home

I hate Valentine's Day. I mean, want to crawl under a rock every time the date comes around and not come out until it has passed hate it. As far back as I can remember, something horrific has happened on that date. Most notably, my childhood dog having a seizure and having to be put down the next day, but there have been others just as traumatic, and some even more so. And they always seem to happen on Valentine's Day.

Lest you think I am a bitter old spinster, let me explain my take on relationships, the expression of love, and Valentine's Day. I have been happily married for nearly a year and a half to a man I have been madly in love with for nearly five years. He sends me flowers and cards at random times and when I need them the most. That's how it should be as far as I'm concerned.

My experience and observations show that Valentine's Day is an especially stressful time for men with significant, and not-so-significant, others as our society has conditioned them to believe (and not only them, but the women they are attached to) that their other expressions of love are not as worthy as the diamond necklace, flowers, and chocolates that MUST be bought on Valentine's.

Now, let me insert a disclaimer, if you are not showing your SO that you love and appreciate them day in and day out and make a special effort at least once a month (or even every other month) to demonstrate that in some way, maybe it is important that you at least honor the day set aside for love. My opinion, however, remains that demonstrating love should not be done out of obligation but out of selflessness and a desire to do so. It's just tainted otherwise.

My ramblings aside, I will now get to the point of this post and an explanation of the above picture. A couple weeks ago I received an e-mail saying "Calling all Oregon Angels!" and it was a request from Soldiers' Angels, a nonprofit that I rate as my favorite and consider Patti Patton-Bader my personal hero, to make and deliver Valentines cards to veterans at the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles.

I was so delighted to have a mission that in a state of quasi-hypocrisy, I agreed to take part and made 95 Valentines cards and anxiously awaited the day I could deliver them.

This year was quite possibly the best Valentines I've had in a long while. (My husband, who always enjoys giving me a bad time about my detest for Valentines, even though it's to his advantage I feel this way, accompanied me on the trip and was the perfect accomplice. He even folded the enveloped around the cards that didn't quite fit in them. He's such a sport.)

We spent almost three hours visiting with the veterans who live in three of the four wings (the Delta Wing is reserved for the Alzheimer and dementia veterans and I, shamefully, am terribly uncomfortable in those types of situations). We heard stories of the building of the bridges and dams across the Columbia. One gentleman, who was visiting his wife, told us about growing up in Hood River, picking cherries, and riding his bike up and down the hills before bikes had gears. (As a side note, I believe they are both veterans, but his wife is blind and lives in the home. I have rarely seen two people so in love at such an advanced stage in life and it really touched me.)

My husband and another lady veteran swapped stories about Apple Valley, California as they had that in common. She actually worked at the senior center down the street from where his father pastored.
I was wearing my Soldiers' Angels t-shirt, which proved to be a good conversation starter and everyone was interested in hearing about the organization and what we stand for. We were so busy visiting that we only took one picture, which is the one above of a handful of veterans decorating heart shaped sugar cookies.
On the drive home my husband and I discussed the different conversations and feelings we'd had. It was a memorable experience for both of us and we think maybe we'll make it a Valentine's Day tradition. (Except maybe the dinner at a certain restaurant that followed that excursion. I'd be okay not going there again. Ha.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Unsung Heroes...

Dad just sent me an e-mail that gave me pause. I have a lot on my mind and haven't had a chance to get it all. I have class in ten minutes, so here's a story I lifted from an e-mail. I haven't checked the facts, but will later.
You're an 18 or 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley, Nov-14-1965, LZ Xray, Vietnam.Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8-1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.
You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see an un-armed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it. The pilot, Ed Freeman, is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway. And he drops it in, and sits there inthe machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you onboard. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to theDoctors and Nurses.
And, he kept coming back.... 13 more times..... And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.
Medal of Honor Recipient Ed Freeman died Wednesday, Aug 20, 2008 at the age of 80, in Boise , ID.
May God rest his soul.
(Oh yeah, Paul Newman died that day too. I guessyou knew that -- He got a lot more press than Ed Freeman.)
I verified. Read the story:
PS: The picture is from my brother's first deployment. He left for his second deployment last Friday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Communication Breakdown

I got on my soapbox Wednesday. After nearly four hours of volunteering for Project Homeless Connect my concern for the state of our daily interactions with our fellow man kinda peaked.

I am a student of communication. I love learning how people interact - verbally and nonverbally (which can be even more fascinating) - and watching them in those interactions. Something that's been bothering me lately, however, is how technology has elbowed in to these daily interactions under the guise of making life "easier."

Facebook has exploded - I have nearly 200 "friends" - so that we can all become more connected to our friends and family. What I find is of those 200 friends, I only see or talk to 20 of them. I'm become a well-informed worse friend: I talk to you less than I normally would because I have no need to seek the information from you, I can just skim your page, see your new pictures and then go about my self-absorbed life knowing that you just adopted a kitten, are doing an internship in Brazil this summer, broke up with your long-term boyfriend, and had a rough day at work. All without ever having talked to you. Isn't that awesome?!

I have a similar situation with my cell phone. I have a lot of phone numbers in there. Know how many people I call on a weekly basis? Eight. (Sometimes it goes up to ten, but eight is the average.) It's not that I don't care about those other people in my precious address book, but they don't fit nicely into my schedule I've filled with all kinds of activities.

On Wednesday I sat with a stinky child and a man who had just received notice that the owner of the house he had rented for 20+ years had foreclosed and they had to be out next week. I could hear the pain and fear as he explained his disabilities and the knowledge that in a week they were going to be homeless - four of his six children (one of whom is three weeks old), his wife, and himself - if they didn't figure something out quick. There was nothing I could do for this man but listen and when I left I realized that this man was a complete stranger, but I probably had a more meaningful conversation with him than I'd had with anyone in quite awhile. On the way home an old school song played saying, "You never know what your neighbor is going through until you ask."

My question is, when do we say enough is enough, set our cell phones aside, turn off the computer, and start interacting with the people around us and really learn about each other?

Friday, January 23, 2009

He's Serious...

The whole wheat/grain bread was accosted sometime yesterday.

Suspect: Gus

Evidence: Gnaw marks on bag opening and and the back. It appears suspect was trying to get to the heel of the bread in hopes no one would mind his eating it.

Apparently all our healthy bread products must be kept out of reach of the cat. What the heck?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I hate homework. That about covers it.

Are You Serious?

Apparently the cats are on board with our trying to eat healthier. Unfortunately this was demonstrated by Gus eating my whole wheat pita bread. Pita bread!

He has a thing for plastic, so I was not surprised to find him gnawing on the plastic bag while we were unloading the groceries. I shooed him away and we put the pita bread up on the open shelf with the other bread.

The next morning Jason brought up the pita bread and said, "Look!" The bag had the gnaw marks from before, but the bag had been ripped into and the bread had been gnawed on. It was just a, "Oh man, how I love plastic bags" gnaw, it was a full blown, "I'm going to get into this bag and eat its contents." There were holes everywhere and chunks of the pita had been consumed. It's not like they didn't have food.

Gus cowered in a corner downstairs and I yelled, "Are you freaking kidding me? Pita bread?!"

Of course, his getting the pita bread broke a couple house rules: No cats on the counter and no getting into people food (not that that's ever been an issue before).

So, now we know to keep pita bread in the fridge. They don't seem to have the same inclinations for the bread.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Six Things In Six Minutes (I Hope!)

Shawna tagged me and I heart surveys, so here goes....

Six random things about me:

1. I tilt my head in pictures and don't realize I'm doing it. This is a fairly recent development (like, within the last three or four years) and I don't know what caused it.

2. I can pick things up with my toes.

3. I think clothes are overrated and shoes are unnecessary. If only our society agreed with me life would be much better.

4. I can curl my tongue into a taco, a cauliflower, and twist it upside down (either direction) but I can not roll my Rs (which made Spanish rather difficult) or tie a cherry stem in a knot.

5. On long car rides I "weave" spots on the window in between the median breaks.

6. When I'm concentrating I hold my finger on the tip of my nose. Jason pointed that out to me (by mimicking me) when we first started dating. I have no idea how long I had been doing that, but when Jason went to tell my family about it we learned my Dad does the same thing so the story was moot.

Six random things I like:

1. Sunshine
2. Sandy, uncrowded beaches
3. Hummus
4. Hair accessories, even though I don't use them
5. Cookbooks
6. Nail polish, though I paint my nails *maybe* once a year.

Six random things I don't like:

1. Mean and/or judgmental people
2. Onions
3. People who don't back up their words with their actions
4. That my feet and hands are always cold
5. Wearing fleece cause it attracts cat hair (and other hair) like crazy
6. The Willamette Valley

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Little Kindness

"Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

(Credited to Sir Matthew James Barrie)

The above quote popped into my head Thursday evening as I was waiting for the Number 8 to take me to school. It was not a Thursday unlike most, I worked four hours in the morning, putted around for a few hours catching up on homework and cleaning the house, then boarded MAX by 4:00 in order to get to class by 5:30 and not feel too rushed. Other than MAX being crazy full, it was a pretty standard trip in. Until roughly 4:36.

It is not uncommon for the homeless, frauds, and street kids to roam about the Pioneer Square and Pioneer Place during the evening rush hours between 4:00 and 6:00. Shortly after moving to Portland I stopped carrying cash because I was giving it all away and am not a good judge of who actually needs the money and who makes the daily rounds. I have had very few occasions where these people made me uncomfortable and a simple, "No, sorry" generally suffices as an answer to, "Do you have any spare change," etc. Apparently that was too simple for a middle-aged woman waiting a few feet from me.

A boy, probably not much older than me, if he wasn't a couple years younger than me, walked up the street asking the waiting passengers for spare change. The woman said something to the effect of "You're on the wrong side of town to be hustling," and he replied, "I wasn't here yesterday," and kept walking, but she hurled insult after insult after him until he turned to the side and gave her some choice words as he continued walking, which she hurled back even louder. The woman then turned to the gentleman closest to her to tell him how she really feels. I held back tears as the kid continued down the street, horrified at what had just transpired less than three feet from me. And felt guilty for not saying something and completely at a loss as to what I could have said.

What I saw was someone already down and out be stripped of what little pride he had left by unnecessary maliciousness. What that woman said was completely uncalled for, but I can't help but wonder if my silence causes just as much hurt in a world so badly in need of a little compassion.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Imagine My Surprise...

Today has been full of surprises. First off, I went to class and was visiting with a gal who I had two classes with last term (PSU is the largest university in Oregon with 27,000+ students, it's kind of a big deal to have multiple classes with someone of a different major - especially Senior Capstone, which only runs about 10 people). So we're talking before class and she mentions she just submitted her degree/commencement application for Spring Term. My response, "Wha-AT?!" She says, "Um, yeah, it's due the 9th if you want to graduate in Spring." And I do.

It turns out you must submit that application two terms before you graduate. Who knew? Apparently not very many people as my classmate had only found out the day before from someone who had just mentioned she'd submitted her form. I read all the e-mails PSU sends (which are few and far between) and check the webmail notices, how did I not know this?

All is well that ends well, as I had to go to Neuberger anyway to change my name. So, I changed my name and submitted my degree application. Now I just need to register for Spring Commencement. Yahoo!

In other news, I was also surprised to log on to my blog and find not one, not two, but three posts of the post I had been trying to post that I kept getting errors for. That's kinda amusing.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm a Survey Sucker

I stole this from Pink Spandex who stole it from Fat Bridesmaid. I need to blog and I have too many things floating around in my head. So I will hereby expel 2008 onto this html page and, with any luck, be able to focus on the future that is 2009.

So here goes:

Was 2008 good for you?
2008 was mostly good, but there were some serious rough patches. I learned a lot about myself and what I want for the future, so that rocked.

What was your favorite moment of the year? Going to the Unit Homecoming with my brother who had just returned from Iraq. I missed him like crazy!

What was your worst moment of the year? Goodness, everything I can think of actually happened in 2007... the anniversary of the Flying Colours missing sucked, as did learning Bobby would be re-deploying.

Where were you when 2008 began? Watching "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which I'd never seen and kinda stressed me out.

Who were you with? Random people from Central Naz

Where were you when 2008 ended? In a fancy bar with two of my favorite girls and one of my favorite guy friends.

Did you keep your new years resolution of 2008? I don't know that I made one. So let's say, "Sure!"

Do you have a new years resolution for 2009? To keep in better contact with friends and family. Also, to not worry so much.

Did you fall in love in 2008? I stayed in love, does that count?

Did you make any new friends in 2008? I made some wonderful new friends in 2008. They're pretty rocking.

What was your favorite month of 2008? I'm a fan of summer months. May-September were awesome.

Why this month? May was awesome because Bobby came home and I got to see him twice. Then I saw the entire family in June and spent a week in Florida. Oh, and Leslie took me to see Kenny Chesney for my birthday in June as well. September marked my one year marriage anniversary and we spent a lovely weekend in Sun River (and ate gigantic cupcakes and hung out with Lel).

Did you travel outside of the US in 2008? Someday I'll make it to Canada...

How many different places did you travel to in 2008? Baker, Metolious, Bend, Prineville, Salem, Seattle, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, St. Louis, San Diego, and Jacksonville... I think that's it. So... twelve.

Did you miss anybody in the past year? My friends that are too far away, a friend that disappeared, my brother, and an assortment of family members.

What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2008? Well, I saw "Australia" and that was a-MAZ-ing. Oh! And Kung Fu Panda and Horton the Elephant!!!

What was your favorite song from 2008? I like music. And now that I've been asked that I can't name one song...

How many concerts or plays did you see in 2008? The aforementioned Kenny Chesney concert (with LeAnn Rimes, Cloverdale, and I think someone else) is the only one that comes to mind.

Did you have a favorite concert in 2008? Kenny Chesney, hello.

What was your favorite book in 2008? Mmmm... "Deadline" was pretty good, oh, and "A Thousand Splendid Suns."

Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year? Nothing comes to mind...

What was the biggest lie you told in 2008? I probably lied about my weight a few times.

Did you treat somebody badly in 2008? I'm pretty snappy with Jason sometimes and that isn't very nice.

Did somebody treat you badly in 2008? Probably, but I tend to ignore them.

What was your proudest moment of 2008? Registering for Fall term. I was so excited to go back to school!

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2008? I was slightly embarrassed when one of our friends found our book collection and then there was almost an awkward moment with Jason's parents (hooray for locking doors). I don't embarrass too easily, though.

If you could go back to any moment of 2008 and change something, what would it be? I would have saved more money. Oops.

Where did you work in 2008? PSU Foundation and then started at LifeWorks NW in October

Favorite TV shows(s) of 2008? The Office, “Bones,” and “House”

Favorite Band(s) of 2008? Little Big Town

Favorite Food in 2008? Sushi and ribs

Favorite Drink in 2008? Oregon Chai Tea

Favorite Place in 2008? Jacksonville

Favorite person(s) to be with in 2008? The Cool Kids, my husband, Leslie, the Wrights & Halls, and Aunt Deb

Favorite person(s) to talk to in 2008? Aunt Deb and Bobby

Favorite trip in 2008? The week in Jacksonville. I heart warm weather and beaches.

Favorite stores in 2008? I discovered Trader Joe's in 2008. It's amazing! JoAnn's is pretty rocking as well.

Hardest thing you had to go through in 2008? Bobby's deployment sucked. Brothers should not be allowed to be gone that long.

Most exciting moment(s) in 2008? Bobby coming home, trip to St. Louis, trips to San Diego, St. Louis, and Jacksonville, the first day of school (yes, I'm a nerd), and moving into our townhouse.

Funniest moment(s) in 2008? Well, Mr. Hall finding our book collection was pretty stinking hilarious. Oh, and drunk dialing Leslie after margaritas with Dad and Aunt Deb. Actually, the whole Road House Grill Margarita night thing was pretty hilarious from start to finish.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

So long 2008...

I'm 35 minutes from the end of the first day of the New Year. As I sit here, a little cold as my parents keep their house pretty cool and my hot cocoa has chilled, I can't help but look back on the last year. If I were to sum up this year, it would simply be, "The Lord will provide." Every time I have felt things slipping beyond my control this last year a "God wink" followed shortly after I'd reached the end of the proverbial rope. This is my tribute to those moments lest I forget them.

In May/June, Jason's temp job in Beaverton ended and I was making plans to go back to school full-time, which would mean working 3/4-time or less. I was stressing between the "I really need to do this" and the "We really can't afford for me to do this" and had no sooner typed out all my fears and frustrations to a friend than Jason called and said he'd been offered a 6-month temp job in downtown. It was so humbling and even now I tear up at the memory, because though 6-months is not a permanent job, it was enough to provide for us for one term. I registered for classes believing "The Lord will provide" and we'd plan our next step in November. (The job has gone longer than anticipated, which has been a blessing as well, though Jason is still seeking permanent employment. At this time, a temp job is better than no job.)

Also in May, we had a moving fiasco when the place we were moving into didn't accept cats (despite all the conversations we'd had about our two cats) and we had to be out of our apartment the next day. Our new friends invited us to live with them until we figure things out. Our friendship grew over that four month time and I continually thank God for bringing such selfless people into our lives.

August brought plans for Fall Quarter, but I had to look for a new job as my employer was not school-friendly. I applied for one job, attended two interviews a week apart, and was hired for a part-time position with benefits not too from where we were living, nor from where we planned to move. If only job-hunting was always that easy!

In October we moved into a wonderful townhouse that accepted our two crazy kitties. We looked at it a few times before submitting our application. The rent kept dropping until finally we said, "This is where we should be." The townhouse is conveniently located to a couple bus lines, a MAX park and ride, our church, and my office, but is relatively quiet and secluded. It's our first real "home" together and we're loving it.

2008 had it's ups and downs, but God provided and I learned to be more trusting. It is my prayer that 2009 teaches me to stay in that place of quiet expectation and know that my needs will not go unmet, I just need to have patience.