Archive for May, 2008


Satisfied my French Toast craving this morning with the delicious little number shown below. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, paired with the sweet tang of fresh blueberries… Weekday mornings always involve a mad rush to get out the door and catch the bus, so it’s nice to be able to prepare a leisurely breakfast on Saturdays. This egg-soaked, butter-fried bread was definitely an indulgence, compared to my usual fare of low-fat yogurt and granola, but it was well worth it.

I’ve had a hard time “embracing the present” this week, and so I’ve been focusing on all that I have to look forward to:

Getting up late this Saturday, then making French toast for breakfast (I’ve had a craving lately).

Seeing my Kindergarten class at church this Sunday. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taught, and I’ve missed those kids.

Finishing up the punch lists for the project I’m working on in just a couple of weeks. Time to move on. My feet hurt.

Receiving the new cool, modern, wood bed frame and headboard that we just ordered from West Elm. Good-bye, squeaky old metal frame.

Heading down to Portland in a couple of weeks to visit my niece. Gotta say, I’ve got the baby itch (we’re not ready for our own, but it’s wonderful to enjoy other people’s kids!)

Checking out “First Thursday” (local Seattle art gallery walk) with Shane next Thursday. I love that he works downtown now, just a few blocks away from my office.

Planning our week-end getaway for the month of June (a new summer tradition). Camping? Vancouver? We need to get out of town.

Completing my third licensing test in just 12 days, after which I am allowing myself to take a one-month break from studying.

I know I shouldn’t resist dwelling in the present, but future seems so much more fun right now…

For better or for worse, I can be incredibly sentimental. I am that person that insists on holding onto old Barbie dolls and stuffed animals on the chance that my future children will want to play with them someday. I am constantly trying to instate new traditions in our family that can be carried on for generations to come. I am nostalgic, romantic, and (sometimes) sappy. My sentimentality is why I love visiting my grandparents’ house and hearing the stories of all their belongings. It seems that every piece of furniture, every vase, every dish has a special story behind it about who made it or where it came from. Many of their things have been in the family for generations. In contrast, a tour through Shane’s and my house would go something like this: that table came from Ikea in 2007, those dishes were on sale at Crate and Barrel a couple of years ago, and that vase from Pier 1 is almost 6 years old (practically an antique by our standards!). This is the price I pay for enjoying a simple, modern, clutter-free home, and I’m ok with it. I’ve found a way to compensate for our lack of meaningful decor items – I’ve sprinkled our walls with photos of people we love and places we’ve been. One of my projects this weekend was to update our living room photo wall. The ones of Paris had to stay, but I printed out a couple newer favorites from our wedding and our Thanksgiving road trip. It’s nice to be surrounded by reminders of the people and places that have blessed us. I’m a sucker for a happy memory.

We’ve had a wonderful weekend – it’s been a good mix of having fun and getting stuff done. We had an errand to run in Tacoma yesterday and decided to check out Point Defiance while we were down there. This turned out to be the perfect perfect-weather getaway – a park with a nice variety of beach, garden, and forest.

It felt so good to aimlessly wander for a couple of hours, without having any reason to rush back home for anything. More and more, Shane and I are seeing the value in getting out of the house and enjoying each other; this is so much more important than having a clean home or catching the basketball game on TV. However, that said, after our day of fun yesterday, we did decide to spend a good part of today on housework. 4 loads of laundry done; 3 boxes of stuff pulled out of closets and put in the Goodwill pile; 4,000 computer/TV/video cables sorted and neatly coiled (this is a bit of an exaggeration, but anyone who is married to an IT guy will know what I’m talking about…); 3 bedrooms vacuumed and dusted; 2 toilets scrubbed; and something like 100 weeds pulled from our yard. It was a full day – we definitely earned the bottle of wine that we enjoyed out in the early evening sunshine of our backyard. The best part of this weekend? The fact that it’s not over yet! Looking forward to our Monday off!

Shane and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary yesterday. It was nice to hit “pause” on our busy week and enjoy a special dinner together at La Medusa. 2 years… I find that anniversaries are a good time to take a “marital inventory” and reflect on how we’re doing. There have been days when being married to Shane feels like the most natural thing in the world, like we’re living the life that was always meant to be. Then there are days when I think to myself, “Holy crap! Who is this man in my bed? There is still so much I don’t know about him! Are we seriously married?” These moments can freak me out a bit, but I have to remind myself that I will never know every little detail of my husband’s inner workings. And do I really want to, when the journey of getting to know him better is so much fun? For example, in the car on the way down to Silverlake last Saturday, Shane spent awhile telling me about the mischief he used to get into as a kid. I love discovering these things about his past – I hope he never runs out of new material to share with me. So as far as the current state of our marriage goes, I’d say we’re doing pretty well. I’m freaking out less and less these days. And we’ve genuinely enjoyed each other’s company lately, even more than usual. We met for lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant on Monday and I caught myself grinning as I watched Shane approach the restaurant from a block away. I was so thrilled to be able to spend just 30 minutes with him in the middle of the day. He has this uncanny power to calm my stressed-out mind, to pull me out of a stubborn pout, to make me laugh when what I am mad/frustrated/sad/etc. It is both comforting and unsettling to be aware of the influence that he has over the state of my spirit. I occasionally try to put my guard up against this influence, but then I remember that I am blessed to be married to a man that treats my vulnerable heart with such tenderness. So, we’re doing well. Do we still have room for growth? Of course. We continue to work on finding our “rhythm” and have set these goals: pray together more regularly; eat dinner at the dining room table together more regularly; talk about our finances together more regularly; foster relationships with other couples who can encourage us, and vice versa.

I look back on this photo of our first moment of prayer as a married couple, and I think about how we’ve grown over the past two years. And I look forward to the journey ahead of us…

We just enjoyed a fantastic weekend with my family down in Silverlake, Washington. My parents rented a cabin in celebration of my dad’s birthday, and my brother, sister-in-law, and niece came up from Portland. Lots of laughing, lots of eating, and lots of watching/holding/falling in love with my newborn niece. She is eight weeks old now and is much changed since I saw her just 4 weeks ago. She is looking around a lot more, doing a lot more wiggling, and has a whole new bank of facial expressions. I caught her smiling just a couple of times, though she refused to let us capture this darling little upturn of her lips on camera. Maybe next time… I caught myself smiling as well several times this weekend as I watched my family enjoy each other – seeing Shane and my brother throw the frisbee around, listening to my parents playfully tease each other over a card game of Quiddler, watching my sister-in-law lovingly care for my niece. And our afternoon stroll in the woods definitely renewed my appreciation of the outdoors (it’s impossible not to appreciate the outdoors on these 85-degree days in Washington). I have much to be thankful for.

I had pretty high hopes for this novel, as it came highly recommended to me by more than one person. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but I certainly wasn’t overly impressed, either. The Feast of Love tells the stories of several different intertwined characters and their experiences with falling in and out of love. It was cleverly written, but I never really felt involved in this book – I found myself not particularly caring about who ended up with who. A lack of connection. But that said, it was a quick, fun read. I’m ready for a challenge now and have started Brave New World. Hopefully the socio-political commentary won’t be too far over my head.

I’ve been busy and distracted and rather unmotivated lately and haven’t done nearly as much “creating” as I’d like to do. The only thing that has kept me from being completely unproductive has been the oil painting class that I’ve been taking at a small art school in Seattle for the past few weeks. This has been my first experience with oil paints, and learning to work with them has been both fun and frustrating. I love the richness of their color and texture – they blend beautifully and have a “creaminess” that I haven’t seen with acrylics. But they can take a loooong time to dry, which means you must have patience when layering paint or covering up mistakes. And clean-up time is a chore, since brushes must be cleaned with paint thinner or turpentine (acrylic and watercolor paint brushes can just be rinsed with water). Nonetheless, I look forward to continuing to play with this new-to-me medium. Below is one of my first stabs at a still life, painted during my third class. It still needs a little work, but it’s a start…

My little window-sill herb garden really took off in the past couple weeks, so I took advantage of the sunshine today to do a little transplanting. Shane filled our new, larger pots with soil, I gingerly placed our little sprouts in them, and we now have basil, parsley, dill, cilantro, thyme, and rosemary happily taking root out on our back porch. Another few weeks and things should be ready for the picking (I cheated a little and bought the rosemary and cilantro as plants, rather than starting them from seed, so they’re much farther along than the rest). It was nice to be outside – I spent a lot of time curled up on the couch this weekend, and I think a little fresh air did me some good. I’m obviously still mourning the loss of my grandma, but each day I find more peace with the fact that God has called her home. Much thanks to everyone who has reached out with their words of comfort.

I got that phone call last night that anyone with a sick family member dreads – it was my mom and dad, calling to tell me that my grandmother (“Nannie”), who has been quite ill for several months, had taken a turn for the worse and seemed to be nearing the end of her life. I was upset, but I somehow believed that she would pull through this decline, as she has done in the past. Dreaded phone call #2 came this morning – Nannie passed away sometime during the night. Emotional numbness allowed me to make it through the work day (“keep busy, don’t let the tears start”, is what I kept telling myself). But the second I stepped off the bus this evening and turned the corner onto our street, the floodgates broke and I began to sob. This hurts. This is my first adult experience with the loss of a loved one, and I am frustratingly fumbling through what it means to grieve. I know that the grieving process looks different for everyone, but that is what’s so difficult. I want a formula to follow, steps to go through, milestones to accomplish. I have spent an evening curled up in bed, crying while Shane rubs my back and prays for my family. I have called my dad and cried with him over the phone. I have cried on the couch. I have cried in the shower. And just when I think I’m about cried out, my eyes start burning and the tears start falling again. I am of course saddened by my loss of my grandmother, but what pains me so deeply is the knowledge that my grandfather has had to say good-bye to his wife of over 60 years. Their marriage was a testament to the meaning of devotion. Nannie spent so many years nurturing her husband and children, taking care of the house, preparing meals, being an active and attentive wife, mother, and grandmother. But as she became weaker and was able to do less and less, Grandaddy didn’t hesitate a bit to fill in where he was needed. When Shane and I visited them back in Maryland last fall, I was touched and humbled by how lovingly he prepared her breakfast, helped her to the bathroom, made sure that at any moment she had everything she needed and desired. We woke up one morning to find him baking cookies, rolling snickerdoodle dough in a bowl of cinnamon and sugar. He said that although Nannie rarely had much of an appetite anymore, she did love those cookies, and so he would gladly bake them faster than she could eat them. It was clear that he wasn’t doing these things out of habit or obligation – these were genuine labors of love. Devotion is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

So…what now? Do I cry some more? Do I try to distract myself? I suppose the best I can do is allow myself to feel sadness, but rejoice in the fact that my grandmother lived a life in which she gave and received so much love.