Friday, November 27, 2009

Deck the halls

Today is “Deck the Halls” day according to my mom. It has been a pretty good one at that! The “morning” (okay, it was noon when I got up) was a bit bumpy because I was grumpy (shocking, I know), BUT I was only grumpy because my sister had me accompany her to the Carlsbad Outlet Stores at midnight last night for a Coach purse on sale for Black Friday! It was hilarious and crazy, and sort of fun. I was exhausted because I had been out late the night before (I was at Montana’s with friends). Anyway, the mall was packed and it looked like a Christmas shopping weekend, but it was midnight. We had to wait in the Coach line for an hour and a half – and that was just to get in the store! The good thing was my sister bought a purse, so it was a successful outing. We got home by 2:30am.
Nana is visiting from Texas for the weekend and Chris (Ashley’s boyfriend) is over. Chris hung up the Christmas lights with my Dad. My mom bought new lights this year that are snowflakes and all white lights that hang down like icicles. Ash and I helped by holding strands and untangling everything. The only minor injury was Ash getting hit in the head with the staple gun while she moved the ladder, but she is fine now. And Lucy really enjoyed the time because she got to wander in the front yard. LOL.
Many of the neighbors were out this afternoon too. I love when that happens! I love my neighborhood. We have lived here for 24 years and actually know our neighbors. When everyone is outside working on their houses (some were also hanging lights) it is so fun to say hi and hear the neighbors talk to one another. It is so safe and happy making. My street is one of the reasons I love coming home.
Up next for tonight is dinner (sort of a Thanksgiving part two with honey baked ham and Dad’s hash brown elegant). Then we will decorate the tree (Dad put it up this morning) and have “White Christmas” on in the background (that’s the best part). We are all warm and happy and safe. What could be better?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Top Ten: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays. I realized this in high school. For years I had loved Christmas the most, because of the lights and the tree and the Christmas music playing in every store and restaurant and because of the spirit of Christmas you can literally feel all around. Not to mention the birth of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. However, I have really come to appreciate Thanksgiving. I think it’s because it is so understated. There are not massive parties on Thanksgiving, no gifts are exchanged, people don’t dress up like Turkeys and ring door bells. The whole holiday is just one day (unless you go to a Thanksgiving Eve service the night before) and it is all centered on being grateful for what you have, not what you want – and, let’s face it, it is a day centered on food, which is also a plus. I also love it because growing up it was the holiday we most often hosted at our home, and despite the craziness it takes to get our home into “hospitality mode,” I love having holidays there.

Here is the Top Ten list of what I am thankful for this year:

1. A permanent job in a new position with co-workers I love, who take care of me and have become good friends (especially Marci).

2. My parents, for knowing when to let me be a grown up and when to comfort me like a kid.

3. My sister, for being a good friend (and for not hating me now that we live together again).

4. My good friend, Nichol, because she is intentional, wonderful, inspiring, and Godly, and we have great talks.

5. New family. Meeting my new aunt, uncle, and cousins has been a huge blessing.

6. I am thankful that I still play phone tag with those far away, including Rachel, Amy, and Nikki.

5. Good health (for me and my family).

6. My friend, Kristy, because she and I have such a great time together and she always lets me know I am missed when we don’t hang out (we hang out at least twice a week and I love it!). She has been a crucial part in making life feel so stable in LA this year. 7. A church to attend in LA, Montana’s to dance at every weekend, and a grad program I completely enjoy.

8. Being able to go home when I need to and be rejuvenated. I still consider San Diego home and love to be reminded of why through being with my parents, sleeping in my bed, seeing Lucy (my dog), going to North Coast Church, bumping into old friends, and smelling the ocean from wherever I go.

9. A growing social life with friends.

10. Understanding, one year later, how much the Lord loves me, even when life is very hard (partly in thanks to my counselor, Carol, who I love). I am living proof that God is faithful and will change your life, because a year ago everything in life - and everything in my spiritual life - was upside down and now things are peaceful and healthy and continuing to improve. The Lord has really made His grace clear to me this year and I rest in that lesson daily.

(photo is Norman Rockwell)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

KC and the soup kitchen

In junior high I served at a soup kitchen around Thanksgiving. I went with my Dad and people from my parents’ small group at church. My friend, Kelle, and I served apple sauce and other food that I can’t remember now. I just remember the apple sauce because we were making smiley faces on plates with it. It all seemed so surreal. I was intimidated by the people I was seeing and was afraid to be left alone. I was also intimidated by the strict order of getting a food line and kitchen prepared to serve so many meals.
The moment it all sunk in was when I looked up to put food on a plate and saw the face of someone I knew. His name was KC and we went to school together. We weren’t great friends and didn’t have a class together, but we were in the same grade and he had a crush on my friend, so we’d talked a handful of times. I was so surprised to see a boy I knew in a soup kitchen that I didn’t know what to say. I hope now that my face wasn’t too shocked. I’m not even sure we said hi, but we definitely made eye contact. It was humbling and a wake up call to see a classmate at a soup kitchen. To realize that someone I knew and went to school with didn’t have enough money to put food on the table. I wondered where he lived and if he really was homeless. Then I wondered how he did his homework. I’ve never forgotten that.
Every year I am grateful for the comfortable life I live in comparison to many, but this year I will have KC in mind.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Catalogs, Stolen Jeans, and a Crappy Kitchen


I ordered the Pottery Barn catalog today. I picked one up a couple months ago and was inspired by all the home designs and pictures. I love the way the pictures of the rooms feel. So cozy and home-y. I’ve written about this before. So today, I ordered a catalog to feel that again. This is also a big step because I never mail things to my apartment. The only things I get in the mail are bills. It is this subconscious thing I have about believing I can only subscribe to magazines and get wedding invitations at a permanent address (San Diego) and I somehow always know that I will never consider this living situation time of my life permanent.
I hate my apartment. Talking with my sister about what we were going to have for dinner and thinking of Thanksgiving dinner next week, I suddenly realized that a big part of the reason I rarely cook a real meal is because I literally hate my kitchen. It is more like a hallway. It has no counter space at all and even fewer cabinets. It’s not conducive to cooking at all, let alone baking! I have to make 30 Christmas cookies for my work Christmas party and I am dreading it because I hate my small kitchen. Okay, my mom is thinking as she reads this that I hate to cook in general, which is true, but I really really hate cooking at my apartment. My brilliant mom also mentioned that having a crappy kitchen didn’t stop Julie Powell or Julia Child from cooking.
My old apartment kitchen was perfect for cooking and baking and we four roommates did that all the time. We even hung out and talked in our kitchen and dining room. We loved it. That is not the case at our new place. Not to mention that our old apartment also had a washer and dryer included and this new place does not, which was my number one requirement for moving and sadly it did not come true. To make matters worse, on Monday someone stole my favorite jeans out of the community laundry room!!! Now I really hate my apartment and I am no longer afraid to admit it. If I lived in Texas I could afford to have my own house. I really want my own house. I want to know that I have roots. That I am settled. Apartments with roommates are a lot of fun, but do not make me feel settled. One day we will all move on. We will get married or get a new job in another city or move to a different country, etc. It will happen one day because it is supposed to happen for twenty-something’s. I get that. I get that apartments and roommates not being permanent is part of life, but I want to feel settled. If I had a house I would be committing to live somewhere for several years. I could paint walls red and yellow and blue. I could put a mural on a wall. I could buy furniture that I knew I wouldn’t have to move in a few months again. I could decorate a guest bedroom and buy new towels and bed spreads. I could even order Christmas pillows (see above picture) and comforters from Pottery Barn just for holiday decorating. I could buy cute dishes and a new dining room set. I’d love to own my own place by the time I’m 30. And when I do, I will hang a sign above the front door that says “Home Sweet Home.”

Texas "New-union"





The family “new-union” was terrific. It went so well. It couldn’t really have gone any better. Having so many family members (19 to be exact) all crowded in one place was so wonderful and fun! My new Aunt Kathy looks so much like my Nana. She just completes the family. It is such a miracle that we found her. It really is. Here’s why… my cousins Natalie and Vanessa were the ones who found out Kathy’s married name and to find that out they had to search by county registry and they decided to search in the county Kathy was born in, because there was hope that people never really leave Cincinnati, OH. Anyway, it worked; Kathy and Kevin got married in that county. But it is a God-thing, because technically, they could have been married in ANY county in the US, in fact, they even moved to Canada for a while, what if they had been married there? We wouldn’t have found her! It is a total God-thing.
Anyway, my new cousins are great. They fit so well and we were all laughing about how glad we were that we are all so “normal,” because none of us knew what to expect. The three of them are funny and sweet and intelligent and beautiful. It was great to make new cousin memories together. It was nice to have new people to talk about feminism and politics and newspapers and Vanity Fair with. I love that we have some common interests. I also got to spend all weekend with my little one-year-old second cousin, Ainsley, who I absolutely adore!!! She is so funny and sweet and a ball of energy. I love her to pieces.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"New-union"

(old picture ofAunt Sue, Vanessa holding Whitney, Natalie, Mom holding me, and Nana)

Please pray for me. Tomorrow I have to fly to Texas, and although I am very excited to get there, I am super nervous about the flight. If you know me well then you know I really HATE to fly. HATE it. I am so afraid it will plummet to the ground and I will die. I get all panic-y and pray, pray, pray. Thank the Lord for His grace with me because I certainly test His patience with all my prayers on days I fly. It is probably even worse this week because it seems everyday people have mentioned heaven, last words, and having a short time left to live. Doesn’t give a girl with small faith and lots of fear much hope now does it? But I will trust the Lord and step in faith.
So, why I am going to Texas? Because I am meeting my new family! Here’s the full story (or at least the version I know…with so many cousins, aunts, and sisters I’m sure I am missing details and have some wrong)… Sixty years ago my Nana and Papa gave up their first child for adoption. A few years later when life was a bit more stable they had three more daughters (my mom being the middle one of those three). Flash forward many years… seven years ago my Papa and Nana told my mom and aunts that they had a biological sister and my mom and aunts have been trying to find her ever since. My mom and her sisters (and even us cousins) knew we would never feel whole until we found her and we all prayed she wanted to be found. Whenever I looked at a picture of the three sisters I imagined the “lost sister” right there with them.
Then, about two months ago we found her! Her My Aunt Karen went to Ohio (where my new aunt was born) and got her birth certificate. My cousins then searched her name on the internet and came upon her married name, so then we had a real chance to find her. At that point my mom googled her and found her husband’s practice’s website and catholic church bulletins with their names on it and found a personal e-mail address. So, my mom and Aunt Sue drafted an e-mail that my mom sent on a Saturday morning and by Saturday evening my new aunt called! Her name is Kathy and she is married with three daughters (which makes nine girl cousins and four aunts…tons of estrogen!).
Now, tomorrow, my mom, sister, and I are going to meet everyone in Texas for a big family “new-union” (as my mom is calling it). We are really looking forward to it and I can’t wait to write and tell you all about it!
But please pray for the flight…

An Education


Go see this movie!!! I absolutely LOVED it. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to own it. I loved it for many reasons, but all you need to know is that it is well made, well acted, and hooks you from the start. I’ve always loved “coming of age” stories and this one takes the cake.