Thursday, July 31, 2008

Revisiting the Bucket List

I will do this a couple times a year, I think, to keep reminding myself of these goals. Los just wrote his, so we'll put that on here as well.

1. Be on all seven continents (2 left: Africa-2010, Antarctica?)
2. Own an orange cat named L. Tigre (we can call him Teegs)
3. Be published (book, magazine, newspaper, etc.)
4. Live off 70% of our income, save 10%, invest 10% and tithe 10%
5. Go to Charleston, SC (where my dad’s fam came to the US in 1703)- this month!
6. Be healthy (which probably means losing weight)
7. Go to Auschwitz and weep
8. Actually stand up on a surfboard and ride a wave in
9. Own a horse (or have regular access to one)
10. Work at a (plant) nursery like my fave Christianson’s
11. Sell one of my paintings
12. Finish out my last 5 of our glorious 50 states
11. Adopt a child from another place
12. Develop a good wine collection and learn way more about the appellations around me and around the world. I bought a great book and am learning...
13. Run a half-marathon with my husband
14. Cheer him on while he runs the NYC and/or Boston Marathon
15. Live close to family and good friends
16. Believe in myself (consistently)
17. Preach sermons in churches around the country/world with confidence
18. Finish a Ph.D. or D.Min
19. Get good at tennis (my forehand is weak)
20. Be able to flip-turn when I swim
1. Grow and eat our own veggies all summer like my dad does
22. Learn how to can them for winter like Los’ relatives do- I think that would be fun to do with kids
23. Learn how to knit and make my own beanies/scarves
24. Do a rafting and houseboating trip on Lake Powell and in the Grand Canyon, AZ
25. Become a good cook
26. Drive from Chicago up to Mackinac Island, MI and kayak
27. Teach our kids to develop a habit of gratitude (and make cute handmaid thank you cards for gifts)
28. Have a fountain in our backyard
29. Ski Killington, VT, and/or Jackson Hole, WY (the only 2 good states I haven’t skied)
30. Frame our kids artwork in our home
31. Go to Alaska and climb a mountain (preferably not Mt. McKinley, I’m thinking small, more like a hill…)
32. While I’m there, maybe I can go dog-sledding too
33. Go to Hawaii to snorkel, or ride a bike down a volcano, whatev.
34. Be in a book club
35. Hear the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island
36. Become a Master Gardener
37. Explore Maine in the summer
38. Learn how to be a better DIY-er (laying hardwood, tile, molding, etc.)
39. Have a second home at the beach (Los Osos, probs) or in the mountains in CA (Mammoth, my heart)
40. Go to Israel, Palestine and other Biblical sites- Greece/Turkey counts!
41. complete a triathlon, probably just the sprint distance one (I only like swimming in warm pools, not oceans/lakes)
42. Go to a college football game in the South (at Texas, or Florida preferably, who along with Cal are my adopted teams)- this fall??
43. Learn more about history (local, national and world)- been working on this
44. Host an exchange student
45. Build a pergola
46. Have a clean house
47. Buy our first tv (with DVR)
48. Have more rituals
49. Organize my library by topic
50. Have a library I’m proud of (and have read)
51. Become more ‘Green’
52. Buy the world’s most comfortable couch
53. Amass furniture that isn’t hand-me-down
54. Have a big tub in the master bath (TMI, perhaps)
55. Get a nice camera and learn more about photography so we can capture our adventures more artistically like Joel
56. Paint a big canvas with our kids
57. Go to a soccer game (football match) in Europe
58. Attend a Puccini opera
59. Get SCUBA certification and go to as many reefs as possible
60. Own kayaks or maybe a sailboat
61. See a manatee up close
62. Go to a Dodgers baseball game with my dad
63. Train my dog not to think he’s the center of the universe (or train myself to think that)

64. Go skydiving
65. Ride a Vespa somewhere scenic- ATV's in Mykonos counts

66. Own a Bernese Mountain Dog, or a French Bulldog, or both
67. Exercise regularly
68. Have a flower ‘cutting’ garden to have fresh flowers in the house all spring/summer/fall
69. Cruise from Singapore to Dubai or China
70. On the way, eat Indian food in India
71. Buy some brilliant fabric in India to make pillowcases with
72. Learn how to sew (first step, get a sewing machine, or at least a needle/thread)
73. Have an instant hot water faucet on our sink
74. Live somewhere warm enough that we can grill/eat outside at least half the year
75. Have an ‘outdoor living room’
76. Sell, donate or give away everything we don’t really want in our home
77. Let everything in our home tell a story (e.g. we got these candelabras in Buenos Aires at the San Telmo Antiques Market)
78. Learn how to be more lavish (with self and others)
79. Ski black diamonds confidently
80. Build community with neighbors everywhere we move
81. Play card games (and other games) as a family
82. Use alternative gift markets at Christmas
83. Practice yoga and/or pilates regularly
84. Officiate weddings
85. Officiate funerals
86. Be as good of parents as the Cummins’ are to their girls
87. Try Zorbing
88. Go to Thai beaches and eat Thai food in Thailand
89. Learn how to dance with abandon (without feeling awkward)
90. Find the perfect haircut for my crazy curly hair
91. Memorize a book in the Bible (I’ve seen it done)
92. Go hiking and camping
93. Teach our kids to engage the culture and change the world
94. Learn about Judaism and Jewish Festivals
95. Know my geneology and have my family’s/Los’ family history written down
96. Get heirloom jewelry and china from people in our family
97. Do a polar bear plunge (just once)
98. Get a tattoo with Los (in solidarity with C and J)
99. Make good memories
100. Help others live fully while they’re alive and make friends with death, it is not the enemy, and it is not victorious.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Birthday Boy Burly

Just hanging out on his second birthday, we are thankful for his life as he has changed ours!

If I were a rich (wo)man... da da dee dee dee dee dah.

Last night in bed we watched the movie Fiddler on the Roof. I haven't seen the musical in over 10 years and I was missing it, such a classic. This morning I was thinking, what would I have asked for (in a comparable song to Tevye)? Here is my current list, all things we are fine without, but would be nice to have, in the next year or so...

#1- iPhones
#2- a new Mac computer
#3- a nice camera
#4- a new car (we continue to praise the Prius daily: 54 mpg!!! But my Acura is now 14 years old...)
#5- a new Pug (we want to get Burly a sister soon)
#6- a new sofa/coffee table from Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardwear
#7- a Bang & Olufsen sound system

I'm sure this list could go on and on, but for the Top 7, all I need is like $40,000. Anyone? Anyone? All donations are accepted and tax deductible;)

Big Prayers

I like to assign certain people that I know will pray to certain things in our lives, but this next month has so much stuff I'm enlisting all of blogdom, if you want, to pray. Some times when I pray, I want to leave God an out, in case God has other things in mind... such as, "God, allow us to sell our house quickly... if you want to." I don't know if I do this because I humbly don't know the sovereign mind of God, or because I am operating out of doubt. So in any case, ya'll can claim God's truth as you intercede for us.

#1- That we would sell our house in WA soon.
#2- That we would find the perfect place in TX when we househunt down there.
#3- That I would get a job where I can use my gifting/talents/education .
#4- That I will pass all of my Ordination Exams in 3 weeks (I need to study a lot between now and then.)
#5- That my last seminary class ever (the next 2 weeks in Pasadena) will go smoothly and I'll write 27 pages by September.
#6- That Carlos will bless others and be blessed at Camp Side by Side (a camp coming alongside families with children that deal with cancer and serious illnesses) next week.
#7- That our heart remain close while we are separated for a few weeks (we should be pros at this by now, but it's always tough.)

Future Pastor a Brothel Promoter? Creepy.

Yeah, so SOMEHOW, after I wrote about how we need to work AGAINST sexual slavery in the world, and about brothels in Europe and Asia, my blog has logged tons of 'hits' for people searching FOR brothels. Beyond the ever popular REI Garage Sale blog I wrote, it is now my second biggest "searched" phrase. Creepy McCreeperson. Lord forgive them for they know not what they do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wedding Extravaganza- 4 in 3 weeks

July was the month o' weddings for many of our friends- 4 in 3 weeks, which I think is a PR... Because of our crazy travel schedule we were unable to make it to all four of them, but I've been thinking about them a lot. I love how different and uniquely special the ceremonies and celebrations are, reflecting the twosome involved. All four couples are so beautiful, we are big fans of theirs and look forward to sharing life together at different points along the journey...

Josh, one of Los' fraternity brothers and friend, with his new bride Lea were up first, they got married in Hawaii, where they live. How we wish we could have gone! We will get over there and meet her some day!

Jonathan and Lynnea were next. When I first moved to WA 10+ years ago Jonathan became like a brother to me. I appreciate him so much, and them as a couple so much. We've been waiting for them to get married for like 6+ years. They're going to South Africa with us for World Cup and then are going to travel around the world for a year:)

Nolan and Katie Jo were the youngest of the group by 7ish years. It definitely showed during the dance time, by music selections; I wish older people danced as much as their party did! We had so much fun dancing to Chris Brown and co. under the stars at beautiful Beacon Hill. It was one of those perfect nights you wish could last forever.

I've been meeting weekly with Katie Jo and a few other sorority girls the past 2 years. Jordyn is in the front and Steph is in the back of this shot.

Jordyn and Lauron her boyfriend of about a million years:)

They had great local Huckleberry wine and beer (Mac N Jacks) and cupcakes instead of cake- so fun!

Jess and Jesse rounded up the group. They got married in Laguna Beach at Montage Resort, possibly the most gorgeous place ever. At least in California. We look forward to living in the same state as them some day, they are infectious with joy and a very unique part of the body of Christ.

Photo time

So this is one of those silly "10 ways to get to know us" emails... I got the idea from a friends' blog, I took the pictures, and here you go! The Rules: Take 10 pictures right away, NO CLEANING up first, and then "tag" three more friends:

1.Favorite Destination:
Maybe this is cheesy, but I'd have to either put up a picture of the whole earth, or these. After being in five continents the past year, we are kind of travelled out for a while. Home is the best place I can think of. Unfortunately we have to sell it in a month or two.

*other noteworthy destinations- local: North Cascades and San Juan Islands; global: Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Oz

Looking into the sun is awesome. This is me in the Cascades a couple of days ago. They are just east of our house and amazing.

3.What the kiddos are doing:
If by kiddos you mean my DOG, then he is chewing on his Kong/napping. He has been playing host with the most to my parents who were just here en route to a 2 week Alaskan cruise/tour

and beloved Kiesha/Dave who just moved down to TX where we'll be excited to join them shortly. Luckily she leant us her furniture, since ours is being sold on Craigslist right and left!

4.My Closet:
I heart walk-in's

5.Laundry Room:

6.The Refrigerator:
Contrary to what you might assume from the 3 kinds of beer, champagne and dessert wine in there, we are not big boozers. The Greek salad makings on the top shelf have been a standard since we got back from Greece.

7.Favorite Room in the house:
That would be a tie between where we sleep, my favorite activity

and where we eat, and have long good conversations

8.The Bathroom:
His and Her sinks: the key to a happy marriage (along with two tubes of toothpaste)

9.The Kitchen Sink:
Why do you want to see our sink? Uh, there it is.

10.Favorite Shoes:
Brown velvet ballet slippers.

So there you have it, now you know everything about us. I "tag" Annie, Beth, Maggie, Wendy and JJ. That's five, not three, just covering my bases in case some of you blow it and don't keep this going. You must keep it going, if you do, a large sum of money will come to your mailbox within 11 days. If you don't keep it going, somewhere baby seals may die.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Being a Prophet Sucks, or, 'anyone got a bullet proof vest I can borrow?'

So... update on the neighborhood drama. I will actually try to write happy blogs soon, btw.
Today I was talking to the teenage girl who lives next door to Kayla, affirming her how proud I am of the decisions she's making in life, b/c who couldn't use a little affirmation, especially at age 15?!

Then Kayla's mom got home after her weekend away. I was walking home but felt something inside me stop me in my tracks and literally turn my body a 180 and walk to their driveway. Dangit, I hate feeling awkward like this. What am I supposed to say, "do you know where your kids were last night? I do." That's awkward. But if I were a mom, I would want to know the truth about my kids from concerned neighbors too, so I went for it. The ensuing conversation/confrontation made me cringe inside and the mom cry with all the emotion of someone who loves their kid desperately yet feels hopeless to change her. After a while I said, "I come from a divorced home and was left alone a lot in high school too, if she wants anyone to talk to about her frustration/choices, I'm available for her."

We parted ways and I went home, doubting myself every step of the way. Did I do the right thing? Should I have let them alone and not 'tattled?' Once inside I closed the blinds and wanted to hide, fearing Kayla's wrath for ratting her out. Carlos called me on it, saying, "let me get this straight, you're afraid of a 14 year old?" I was thinking, "she's not just an innocent 14 year old. She hangs out with gang-bang-y type vatos. They're not people that would t.p. your house, they're the kind of people who could vandalize your house or hurt somebody." Considering that we just put our house on the market, AND we're both going to be away from the house next week, that could be problematic; I mean, I'm just not sure what kind of can of worms I've opened here."

Carlos just smiled at me. Once I calmed down and saw my fears for what they were, I realized that everything is probably going to be fine, and hopefully I can talk to Kayla tomorrow or soon, and let her know that I am concerned about her and talked to her mom out of love for her. In any case, my 'take-away' from all of this is perspective on what the Biblical (and subsequent) prophets must have faced. It is SO uncomfortable to be in that role. I would have much rather just gone in the comfort of my own home and eaten dinner, without that interaction. One of my favorite pieces of Scripture is when the prophet Jeremiah tells God he would rather be dead than have the role in society that he has, but then he has this revelation that if he tried to keep truth inside, it would be like a fire in his bones, consuming him, and he knows he just can't keep it contained neatly, he has to share it. And that's how I felt as well, so I know I did the right thing. It's just too bad that the right thing to do in life is rarely the easy thing.

There Goes the Neighborhood

Maybe it’s because I just watched The Dark Knight (newest Batman flick, good one) that I’m feeling a desire to fight injustice. Not organized crime, per se, but that of the broken homes and underage drinking persuasion. Like 13-year-olds ditching school, getting drunk and going to the hospital with alcohol poisoning kind of underage drinking. Last night I was talking to some great neighbors while waiting for Burly to do his business, when a car came screeching up next door to them and a girl ran out of the car and hopped through a bedroom window. Two minutes later her parents showed up to pick her up and were screaming at her in Spanish, b/c she wasn’t supposed to be at Kayla’s house. Little did they know she had been elsewhere. 3 minutes after that my 13-year old neighbor and a bunch of her miscreant posse showed up, open beers in hand (from the car!) This was at 11, the last I saw them was after 3am. No mom in sight.

My heart is sad for her, as she has little role model in her mom. A few months ago, her parents got divorced. A new man was in the house shortly thereafter. As a tight-knit community, our block took it pretty hard. That schism has changed the dynamics of our street some, turning their house into a dysfunctional place where teenagers can do whatever they want. It’s made me think a lot about community and how sad I am that none of us were allowed in to the couple’s lives to know that they were hurting. If we had been, I wonder if being loved from other couples and being given resources could have changed the dynamics or outcome of their situation. Maybe not, but maybe. What makes it so hard for us to tell people when we need help? If it ‘takes a village’ to raise kids, then we need community…

I want to tell Kayla, that at 13 she’s making decisions with boys and drugs that are setting her on a path that isn’t going to lead anywhere positive. She’s already been kicked out of a school, and the friends she’s surrounded herself with are not going to lift her up and inspire her to any kind of greatness in life. Watching her compared to her next door neighbor who’s only one year older is like watching the book of Proverbs’ concepts of wisdom and folly being fleshed out. Wisdom respects her involved parents, has chores, works hard, is honest, does well, and will have the world at her feet when she finishes school. Folly by contrast, does none of the above, and is blown with the winds of peer pressure and erroneous judgment.

We have the power of choice in life, we are not merely recipients of the cards we are dealt. I know a guy from Atlanta who just shared his amazing life story with me. He realized that education was the way out of his broken family, projects life. After high school, he got a full scholarship to Penn and then Harvard Business School, when his mom had just completed 7th grade. He retired at about 40, set for life.

It makes me sad that the path he took is more rare and the path people like Kayla are on is more common. But then again Scripture says ‘broad is the road that leads to destruction and narrow is the road that leads to life.’ I wish life for Kayla, and all her friends. I don’t necessarily know how to communicate this, but I think it starts with the stirring that I feel in my heart.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Calling in the Reinforcements (p.s. don't read this if blood/guts gross you out)

Bless my little Pug's heart, but he just doesn't have a ferocious bone in his body. Usually we appreciate this about him, and b/c of Los' being bitten by Pit Bull's, etc. in his youth, that's why we chose a super friendly breed... BUT lately I've been seeing more bunnies than usual in our back yard. We used to have 10 baby bunnies (not by our choosing) in our backyard, and encouraged them to leave asatch (as soon as they could hop). Since then, we've barricaded every possible entrance point to our yard. Except one. Our gate, which we built ourselves, goes to where the grass used to come to, when we had grass. But since we built the flagstone path, there's now a few inch gap in that space, and believe me, a few inches is all bunnies need to get through. It is amazing how flat they can make themselves.

Luckily for us, we don't have a ton of plants that bunnies like to eat. Our neighbors have had many plants destroyed by bunnies, so they have more reason to be frustrated. What we have, however, is a lot of good hiding spots for bunnies, so after they get their fill elsewhere, they seem to think it's okay to come over here and hang out, and disperse their pellets, if you know what I'm saying.

This is not cool. Especially, and most gross to me, because then Burly will eat said pellets, and vomit. SO- I've been trying to teach my dog to hunt the rabbits. But let's be honest, he has no hunter in him. So my second thought was just for him to chase them, and scare them away. Yeah, that's not working out so well either. Hate to say it, but they are way smarter than him. When I let him into the yard, he could be 5 feet from one and not sense it; a byproduct of having a smashed nose, I suppose? They have zero fear of him. By the time he does see one, and makes his jolly attempt to bound after it, they're well on their way to safety at another home, under the gate. I don't know if he even realizes it's another animal, and intruder at that, or if he just thinks they are like a moving tennis ball. He loves playing fetch, maybe I should spraypaint the bunnies bright chartreuse?

Anyway, so yesterday I had had it! So after seeing 4 bunnies in my yard, I decided to bring in the reinforcements. Burly's two best friends are our next door neighbor Lab and German Shepherd Gwen and Miss Parker. They are all fun and games when it comes to hanging out, and they have sleepovers with Burly, etc. but when it comes to hunting rabbits, they mean business. One time (super gross), Miss P brought in a dead rabbit and laid it the feet of our neighbor while she was iChatting on the computer. You can imagine how grossed out Joelle was:) I'm actually amazed that Miss P didn't devour it immediately after seeing what went down yesterday!

So, they came over and Miss P immediately began hunting the little varmint. I had to sacrifice some hostas and my bell pepper plant in the hunt, but they were worthy casualties of war. After 20 minutes of futile effort, I saw the bunny hiding under a geranium right by the gate. So I went over to the gate and called Miss P, she swooped in from one direction, and like athletes executing the perfect play, Gwen covered the other angle. When the bunny came out, it had no chance, as Gwen pounced on it. It all happened within 3 seconds, but it was like watching those nature shows on tv, or the Planet Earth series, where they show slow motion of beast on beast. Gwen had it in her mouth and Miss Parker came over and ripped the bottom half off of the bunny off (to share with her sister, naturally). One second I saw guts hanging out, the next, the bunny was gone, just like that. I'm pretty sure they didn't even chew!

Meanwhile, my little dog was biting the heel of Gwen, naively thinking that they were playing a game. Little did he know that a small victory had been won in the great battle of the garden. If these dogs could high-five, I would have high-fived them right then, proud of their accomplishment. But I sure as heck wasn't going to allow them to lick me! Thus ends this chapter of the garden bunny saga.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bungy-Jumping in Corinth Canal, Greece

What a way to celebrate our independence day half a world away, hucking oneself off a 240 foot bridge?! This canal was started by the Roman Emperor Nero (sound familiar?) and then was worked on by 6000 Jewish slaves (it's 90 meters tall and 4 miles long, connecting the Ionian and Aegean Seas. It was finally finished just over 100 years ago. After seeing ancient Corinth, we opted not to go to Cenchraea in favor of bungy-jumping. 6 members of the group did it, I wish I could have too. Maybe in South Africa?! It was voted best bungy jump on The Amazing Race.

Amber modeling the shirts Zulu Bungy sold

Becky's perfect jump; she went waist-deep in the water, no one else did.

Los getting ready to go

I love this photo. You should've heard him laughing, it echoed throughout the canyon like the wicked witch of the west. If I could figure out how to attach the video, I'd put it on.

Christina caught us smooching after he finished, I was so proud, vicariously living through him.

Los, Becky, Emily, Amber, Susan and Tyler exulting post-jump.

Ancient Corinth

Our last full day, we went over to the Peloponnese, separated from the rest of Greece by a ship canal Los bungy-jumped into. The Peloponnese is where many Athenians and other Greeks vacation, and would be worth going back to, as we were only there a day. Our guide says she loves Nafplio, a Venetian city in a stunning area, note to self. The Olympics were here for 1000 years BC, in Olympia, as well.

We visited ancient Corinth:
Temple of Apollo (5th c.BC)

Lecheon Road, the main thoroughfare to the port at the time. One thing that I take away with me is reminiscent of the idea that in 'heaven, streets are paved with gold.' What we value will be something we walk on... Here streets and gutters at times, are made out of marble. In the states we pay through the nose for classy marble, it is definitely high class; there, it's used as gutters. Amazing difference, and illustrated perspective to me.

The Bema, where Paul was for trial.

Kavala, Greece

Kavala (formerly Neopolis, a port Paul came to) is the northern most point in Greece that we reached in our journey, we had a great meal here, and wandered around to check out the Roman aqueduct from the 1st-2nd century AD.

Our friend Mark (fraternity brother of Los) and another buddy climbed up to the old castle, check out the view from there!

We loved the Greek coast line, full of quaint little beach towns and ports like this.