Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So Very Blessed

Yesterday started like a regular day and fortunately for us, it ended in a pretty usual way as well. It is what happened in between those hours that made me realize more and more how truly blessed we are.

At about noon, I took my kids to a friend's house for a play date. I came home, put the babe for a nap, cleaned up the kitchen a bit, and then held the sleeping baby in my arms for about an hour (because this is how he now takes part of his nap. Don't ask). As I was holding him, I looked outside and saw what appeared to rain/snow mix. I checked the forecast...nothing alarming. The babe woke up and by this time, the snowflakes were of significant size and I decided to make a fast trip to a grocery store to get some comfort food for what might be a snowy evening. What was supposed to be a 30 minute trip turned out to be a 4 hour ordeal. My brilliant brain forgot to remind me about the fact that we live on a hill and the car I have is not ready or able to maneuver in snowy conditions.

I made it fine down the hill and got my food. By this time, however, the surprise storm was in full blast, and going up the hill the same way I came was treacherous. To make a long story short, our whole family made it home safely in the evening and everything turned out alright because:

  1. the baby though hungry patiently sat in his car seat and sang songs during the 1.5 hour very slow ride. His sweet, worryless tune was calming me down.
  2. we were blessed to have a friend who came over and rescued me and the baby and took us to his house
  3. his house is 5 minutes away from ours
  4. this was the house where my other kids were playing

  5. his wife graciously welcomed us and served yummy treats with fresh raspberry tea. Marina and Bill, I can't thank you enough!
  6. my husband eventually (it took him 4 hours!) picked us up after rescuing his brother. My husband's truck's windshield wipers are broken. I do not know how he did it.
  7. My abandoned car (with my comfort food inside, go figure!) was in one piece when we came to pick it up
This surprise storm was as its full blast during the rush hour. Everyone was caught off guard. It was a BIG mess in the greater Portland area. As I was listening to the radio while driving, I kept hearing about car wrecks, people getting stranded for hours in traffic jams and on the curves, cars unable to make it up the hill on the highways. I kept wondering, what if it was me out there? What do people do if they don't have relatives or friends who are able to help them out during emergencies? What do they do if they don't know God and don't cry out to him for help? Alone, we can do so little. Alone, we are simply not able to make it. Blessed are those who are not alone, who have others to rely on during tough times. Blessed are also those who are able and willing to reach out to others for help. We ARE truly blessed.

Here are some pics of my kids oblivious to all the troubles, having a great time playing in the snow.

Fortunate, happy, blessed, taken care of. My daughters expression above says it all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Free Stuff

Search & Win

Is there such a thing as FREE stuff without strings attached? Appearantly, yes! About a month ago, I signed up for swagbucks. I uploaded the swagbucks toolbar and now use when I search online. I get points. Just. For. Searching. The search is powered by goggle and I don't sell or buy anything. I already have enough to get a $25 gift card. So, sign up. Its free and super easy. Oh yeeeh.... and if you promote swagbucks on facebook, twitter or your blog (like I just did :) you get points too!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

Tomorrow is....

last day before Christmas Break,
pay day,
my hubby's B-day.

I have already decided that its going to be a great day no matter what. I LOVE tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

Over the years, I have gotten tired of hearing my fellow Christians complain around this time of the year that the stores are leaving Christ out of Christmas by greeting them with "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." I would rather be greeted by the first greeting at this time of the year because the birth of Christ has little to do with what Christmas has become. Last year, while listening to a Christian program I often enjoy, I heard the commentators rejoicing over the fact that Sears or some other store after receiving numerous complaints okayed the traditional Christmas greeting. But really, what is there to rejoice about? So what that they tell you "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays"? It is only a marketing gimmick to sell what needs to be sold without making as many people as possible upset.

Finally, Christians around the world are participation in a new (which is really, old) tradition.
I love Advent Conspiracy. The motto is simple: worship fully, spend less, give more, love all.

Check this out:

Also, an article about this new/old way was published in Time magazine. Finally, some positive light on Christianity.

this article

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Brilliant Act

Setting: Last period of the day on Friday. The class is a math class where students have limited English and math abilities.

Me: (Explaining a word problem about orchards and apples. Drawing tiny trees).

Student: (Sitting right in front of me) That's a lot of mota.

Me: (Sounding savvy) Yeh, that a looooooot of mota.

Class: Bursting in laughter

Me: (Confused) What are you guys laughing about? Mota, that means "work", right?

Class: Laughing harder.

Me: Ohhh...trabajo, I meant to say trabajo. What does mota mean?

Class: Not answering, laughing away.

Student: It means marijuana.

Me: Embarrassed, red in a face, joined them in laughter.

It took me five interrupted years of teaching experience to make a mistake like this one. I need to go learn Spanish like five years ago.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fasting This Week

I am "fasting" from blogging and other social networking sites this week as part of an church wide effort to fast from something that takes up a lot of your free time. It is difficult and I am tempted, but I can do it. In the meantime, I'll just continue to write posts in my head:)

Friday, November 27, 2009

THE Best Black Friday Tip Ever

Get up early (or better yet, sleep in) have a great cup of coffee in a comfort of your bathrobe, plan your day and spend it with your family. Oh ye... and shop online for the things you truly NEED. Don't succumb to the pressures of the fellow early bird sleep deprived shoppers and buy things JUST because they are on sale! Buyer's Remorse: was a phrase I happened to teach this week to my ESLers. We all know the feeling, this Black Friday, don't become a victim of one!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Timing Video

This video was referred to me by my instructor for an online class I am taking for my master's. I am guessing the statistics provided are credible. It is interesting that I got to watch this on the eve of Thanksgiving. Its short and sweet. I hope you watch it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Smart Cookie

Last week, after receiving about 5 very obviously plagiarized papers, I gave my students a serious lecture about how it is wrong to plagiarize and how dare they insult my intelligence. I made an effort to explain to them that teachers are much smarter than students give them credit. Today, I proved myself wrong.

After administrating a spelling quiz, I turned around to see that the entire list of words tested was posted on the wall. Right behind me. Not a single soul made a beep, a grin, or a giggle during the 15 minutes of me administrating the test. Their ESL teacher proved herself to be one smart cookie today, no doubt about it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life's Hard When You're My Student

Right after the class began I sent two boys down to the office to get a late slip who tried to challenge me on that in front of the whole class, but grumbled their way to the office and back.

During class presentations, a student asked me if he could go back to the library to get his pen and his pencil which he forgot.  I gave him, a  "you have got to be kidding" look and continued listening to the presentations. 

Right before the class ended, I asked for a different student's cell phone when I caught him using it in class who refused to give it to me.  I had to call security on him. He is usually a pretty mellow student, but decided to have an attitude today.

The next class of children  teenagers that I am teaching is full of not such bright students to whom I usually have to repeat simple directions atleast 5 times.   When after explaining that students need to complete TWO sides of the worksheets 5 times, I HAD to shake my head and say nothing when a student asked me, "Which side do we do?"

I really wish I could write : DON'T mess with the lady who had 5 hours of sleep, sat in 3 hours of meetings in the morning and has a VERY difficult exam coming up in the evening.   Just don't. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

What They Didn't See

We had three families over for lunch yesterday. When they came in, the house was clean, table set, food hot and ready to serve.  Here is what they didn't see:

Morning: I take half a day to do homework and study while kids are at grandmas.
Afternoon: I pick kids up, take them to the store, lock my keys in side my van and wait for the roadside assistance to open the door for me. A quick trip turned into an hour. I thank God my parents were with me at the time to help me out.
Evening: Abigail and I watch Fiddler on the Roof, the musical at the high school I work at.

9 am I begin making salads for guests during breakfast. This task takes up longer than should as multitasking slows me down.
10am Husband is done reading the Bible to the kids and we rush upstairs to get ready.
10:30 my husband is trying to get the kids out the door when my son starts being picky about his socks and shoes.
10:35 hubby drives away, son starts crying his eyes out.
11am child is still crying in disbelief that his daddy could do such a thing.
I lure him away from the bedroom with a promise of something sweet and go to put my baby for a nap.
11:30 baby is still in my arms wanting to sleep with me holding him.
12pm I finally put the baby on his bed and turn on the live streaming of the church service and start making hot meals. Son is walking around, throwing crumbs of food all over first floor, goes up to the second floor, sees his church clothes, remembers that he was left behind and starts crying again. 
12:30 son spills over a greasy bowl of soup the same second the baby wakes up (early) from his nap. The babe is in the bad mood, crying as I am trying wipe the floor, the chairs and son and sautee chicken.
1pm. I am still cuddling the baby and cooking with one free arm, look around to see 1st level a complete mess, kitchen sink full of dishes and countertop filled with unfinished dishes. I feed the baby and go back to cooking. I panic.
1:40 husband comes home to a messy house and a paniky wife. I tell him that next time i would rather entertain on a day when he is home, helping me. He tells me to do the impossible: relax. We I frantically start cleaning the house.  Hubby is taking his time vacuuming the place. 
2:30 my food is ready to serve, but my guests are not here. I start calling guests and they tell me that my husband told them to come whenever. I give my husband the evil eye and explain to him hot food cannot be served WHENEVER and tell him that he is never to coordinate lunches or dinners with our friends. I glace at my juicy, flavorful chicken that just finished roasting in the oven and think how it would just not taste the same when I serve it WHENEVER.
4pm All guests arrive, and we sit down for lunch.
10pm All guests leave and I feel satisfied that the evening went well and the food was great. We talk about what was, is and what is to come. Guys leave to use the sauna, girls talk about life and babies.
11pm as I lay in bed, I think that I would do it all over again, even if it was just as hectic as today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Free Day At the Park and Free Clothes!

What a day we had today!  My sister came in the morning and made waffles with my kids.  How they love to help out!  Watching them being so interested in helping, makes me want do more baking with them. 

After our very yummy whole wheat waffle breakfast, we decided to go to the Japanese Garden as today's admision is free.  This was our first time to the park and the season was for sure right to go there. 

The weathermen promised rain and more rain.  It ended up being a perfect fall weather.   We were even spoiled with some sun today. 
Our model.  The babe had no idea where we brought him, but enjoyed looking at ponds. 

I love my daughter's profile.  She is seriously studying Japanese landscape art here. 

The only downside about coming to a beautiful place like this for free is all of the other people who are taking advantage of this opportunity with you.  It was crowded!  At the entrance we were asked to turn off our cell phones as this area (I am guessing) is an area of meditation.  However, there were lots of people walking and talking, and mommies (myself included) trying to get through narrow pathways with their strollers.  Though this picture is blury, you can see the most famous place to take pictures there: the bridge.  What you can't see it the stream that flows underneath it and other gorgeous colors;trully, one of the best places in Portland to take pictures. 

My day was finished with washing and putting away a ton of used boy's clothing my sister in law gave to me.   I have never had so many handmedowns; it was pretty exciting! 

Nicolas is wearing his "new" sweather and a coat from that ton.
This guys loves to pose and we think is very photogenic. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Other Love

Its official, people, I have found myself a new obsession love.  In fact, to second a fellow blogger, if I wasn't madly in love with my husband, I would marry Joe

The store close to my house is celebrating their 1st year anniversary today.    I befriended it early on and have been loyal ever since.   I only wish I could afford to do all my grocery shopping there.   Maybe then, I would actually look forward to this task. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Illiterate and Proud of It

On Saturday, my husband and I took our two oldest kids to a Disney on Ice show. Besides realizing about ten minutes in to the show that this was a total waste of money, we understood the extent to which our kids are pop culture illiterate. While the little girl next to me was singing along with all the cartoon characters, my children were more consumed by the mechanical side of things:

"Mom, is the fog real?"

"Mom, are the cars real?"

"Is there anyone behind the wheel?"

My favorite, said by my three year old son when he saw Ariel for the first time:

"I don't like that lady. Why couldn't she put on some clothes?"

Half of the show was about Tinkerbell finding a purpose for her existence in the fairyland. The purpose of life was found when she first messed up the garden and then fixed it with one turn of some wheel. I was looking for food for thought or a moral lesson, or setting of example, but failed to see one. Magic, fairies, spells, witches were there and made me quite uncomfortable. You can debate with me that fantasy and imagination is crucial for child's development and that all of the things above are just FUN, but there is something inside of me that calls to guard my children from it. I d0n't see a lot of tolerance for witchcraft in Christianity.

I was happy to answer my children's questions about who it is they were watching and what was going on. It didn't bother me at all that my children weren't literate in the world of Disney. In fact, I was pretty proud of that fact. In our house hours of television and movies are substituted by pretend play and imagination that comes from within their little brains. I was proud because the tube is rarely on because of my children's desires to do other things not because I control it so and the small collection of Disney movies is collecting dust. I was proud because their vocabulary and knowledge not of pop culture but of letters, numbers, kid songs, juvenile science and geography concepts sets them apart from other kids their age.

I am proud to be raising pop culture illiterate nerds. There are so very few of us left.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Swine Flu Song

Those of you who are familiar with Billy Joel's "We didn't start the fire" song will get a special kick out of this one.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Summer, Come Baaaaack!

For being able to pretend for a few months that I am a stay at home mom, for dressing kids in one level of clothes, for yummy berries, for splash pads and parks, for hanging out on the deck, and for......yard sales---I miss summer!!!

Lets talk about yard sales, shall we? Why do I miss them? Because I am a new convert to yard sales who has had a blast and great luck this summer. I got many many deals including a fine china set for 8 (that's for over 30 pieces!) in excellent shape for $8. I grabbed it the same second the lady named the price and tried very hard not to expose my grin. I also got my baby a Jeep sports stroller in great shape for $35. My most recent purchases are a must brag. I got this 3-pack set of children's songs in excellent condition for

for $.25. Yes, a quarter. Its currently selling for $12 on amazon.

Also, by some weird luck from a very weird lady, I bought these Russian classic cartoons

for $.50. Two quarters!

Last, but my most valuable purchase yet, I bought a beautiful five strand freshwater rice pearl necklace and bracelet that looks similar to this (substitute the big pearl clip to 14k gold)

for...are you ready for this--$1. Goodwill, can you beat this?

I bought it from the same weird lady who sold me the Russian cartoona who was very tired and over medicated to realize she is selling me something genuine. She was selling a lot of things that were not hers and this set was clipped together as one long necklace with clips at weird places. thinking there was something wrong with the necklace she offered it to me for a dollar.

So yes, second hand stores riding on the recession wave have gotten way to expensive and I have officially changed my allegiance for fun shopping to yard sales. For now though, I am to start collecting junk around the house for the yard sale I will have next summer, and who knows someone might just a find a treasure or two in my trash.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Slow Dance

Alyssa has posted this on her site and it really spoke to me. My goal for the next 85 years of my slow down.


Have you ever watched kids

On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain

Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last.

Do you run through each day

On the fly?

When you ask How are you?

Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done

Do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores

Running through your head?

You'd better slow down

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last.

Ever told your child,

We'll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,

Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,

Let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time

To call and say,"Hi"

You'd better slow down.

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift....

Thrown away.

Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creepy Ads

One of the blogs I read regularly posted a link to this site of vintage creepy ads. My favorite, the one above (click on it to read the print) is an ad for Lysol to be used for better female hygiene. I laugh every time I look at it. I cannot believe the marketing team was able to get away with it. Some other ads are disturbing and funny like these,

here and here for many more. Heather, I have a feeling you are going to like these!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Please Pray...

I just learned the news that a friend of ours had passed away, loosing her battle with cancer as well. She had battled it for the last three years, learning of its existence only a couple months after her wedding day. Please pray for the family who lost their only sister, daughter, princess.

Friday, October 2, 2009


A few weeks ago, I went to a funeral service for a very dear acquaintance of mine whom I liked and respected a lot. I met her at an job interview for my first real job, working as a tutor at the high school I graduated from. She had enough faith in me, a then eighteen year old recent high school graduate to trust me with a new position where I managed my time and assignment without much supervision. I liked and admired a lot of things about her. Her classic appearance and her classy demeanor, her ways of showing courtesy and care, her optimism, her professionalism and ability to lead, and most of all, I respected her for being so grounded and for cherishing relationships. You see, for the last five years she held a very high position of an HR director at one of the biggest districts around here. Her office was always open for people to swing by and say high. She did not become a snob. She was always very accessible for people to come in and have a chat with her. She took the time out of her busy schedule to do things like attend weddings of very small people like my sister and I and write notes of encouragement and congratulations to many. She died after loosing a long battle with breast cancer. She was 52 years of old, shy a couple of years for retirement. She definitely left too early.

As I was listening to family, friends and colleagues speak at her funeral service, my respect and love for her only strengthened. I kept looking at an enlarged picture of her in disbelief that this person will no longer walk the halls of the district office, spend time with her children, or kiss the love of her life. She will not be able to enjoy retirement that have been beefed up with savings from the last 28 years of working in education. Her humor will no longer amuse and comfort her loved ones.

Mortality. What a strange concept. How is it possible for a person to one day plan, think, create, love, care, sympathize, and not exist the next?

This funeral service came about a week after my side of the family got together at my elderly grandparents' house to take group pictures. My grandfather is 95 and my grandmother is 87. They have been married for over sixty years. Their bodies and minds are fragile and they spend their days walking or sitting around my aunts house. I was thinking of them during the funeral service. My grandparents have definitely reached the end of their lives here on Earth. Having lived such long lives, mortality seems suiting, natural, if not desirable. As I write this, they have lived a month longer than my friend and continue to live. They, who have nothing more to offer to the society, or their families and who are so limited in their physical and mental abilities to even get to a nearby park.

Why do some die before their time and others continue to live is a question only God can answer. But the reality of mortality only strengthens my believe in the eternal life that must follow after our flesh can no longer sustain us here, on Earth. I hope and pray, that this time comes after I have lived to the fullest, watched my great grandchildren serve the Lord, made a difference or two in someone's life, brought someone to Christ and am able to then command those that survive me to throw a big party in honor of my life and departure.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Unique Pumpkin Patch Experience and Pictures

Last Friday, I realized that being a mom for the last six years has apparently taught me absolutely nothing. Because if it had, I would have probably:

1) not decide to take my kids to pumpkin patch across the town on a Friday night
2) not had to take a long alternate route because the freeways were packed
3) calculated in the two potty stops (30 minutes of total duration) that I would have to make
4) visited the patch's website to learn that most activities would close by the time we would get there
5) not drive for 2 hours just to be there for 30 minutes

6) not have to lure my kids back to the car by promising sushi

There was maybe but two other lost souls there besides us, so we had the place to ourselves. The thirty minutes that we did spend there were fun with children just enjoying the free space to run around and pose for my sister's camera. She got a lot of very cute pictures of them. Some of them are below. I will post more when she gives them to me. In the mean time, can someone tell me why my pics show up so small in size and resolution? Tina, Heather, Tanya your pictures are always so bright and big, how do you do it?

Monday, September 28, 2009

What would you say...

...if in the middle of class two girls approached and asked you if they could both go to the bathroom because one needed to show another how to put in a tampon? I said nothing, I was speechless. I then offered one with the problem to take my purse which had a pad in it to the bathroom. She declined as she was too embarrassed. Go figure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Second Language Milestone

"Dude, I don't want to do homework for the Russian school, " said my six year old when she came from school the other day.

I thought I heard her wrong and ignored the d-word. So when she used it again and again the next few days while using various "I don't wannu" and "I am not gonna" sentences, I had to accept that my daughter has officially entered the next step in her English language development also known as learning the SLANG. I am happy that she is progressing, but hearing her say words like dude, dumbest, and weirdo makes me both laugh and cringe. It is funny because at this time last year, she entered school knowning no English at all other than colors, letters and numbers. It makes me cringe because I don't think a first grader should be going around using "dude" in every other sentence.

If she starts talking like this early on, by the time she grows up she will for sure beat all those "Like, for sure, dude. Totally. Yah, right" people who have annoyed the heck out of linguists and other educated professionals.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I have obliged my self to a form of insanity which only those who are currently committing the same can empathize with me. Everyone else to whom I whine just shake their heads and think me crazy. Those who do not understand the scope of my craziness think me a wuss.

I have accepted a temporary subbing job for someone who is now on a leave of absence. Not sure now if this was such as clever idea. For four more weeks, I am to be at work everyday before sunrise; very hard to do for someone who gets up at least three times a night. I have to prep for four different classes two of which are new to me. Needless to say, I haven't graded a thing for the past two weeks and the inbox of students' work is currently overflowing. I am also currently enrolled in two graduate level courses, one if which is linguistics. Though the subject is very interesting to me, the workload isn't. The homework duration of 6-10 hours a week, hangs over me like a dark cloud following me everywhere I go, sending occasional showers my way as a reminder that it has not been touched.

So I come home to three little kids who want to hang on me and all I feel like doing is sit there, stare at the wall and collapse for a nap. I feel that I am leaving all of my passion and energy at work and school and bring back my tired body that is useless. I know I am not the only mom who works full time and comes home to other responsibilities. I seriously do not know how or where you get the time and energy to get all of the things that need to get done around the house and spend constructive time with your children. There isn't enough hours after work to do it all well.

Yesterday, we took our kids to OMSI. They explored different exhibits and had a blast. This reminded me of how much I miss being home with them every other day. Going to OMSI was a regular outing for us. Now, I am happy if we make it to the park after work.

I know working full time is not how I want to spend the next few years while my children are small. I am considering putting schooling on hold for a while too. It is simply not fair to do this to my children and my spouse. For now, I am thankful that part of the craziness will be over in four weeks and I will be back to being more of a mom rather than the blob that I am now.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Let My People Go!

I've heard several improvisations of this song, this (probably the closest to the original)is by far my favorite. I love his voice! Enjoy.

City Slickers

One day, my husband and I dream of living on a few acres of land. We dream of a house that is not too small and not too big. The location of our new place would have a far away from the city feel but be close enough to it that we won't have to travel too far to get to places we visit often. Our kids would be free to roam around the property, build forts, help plant gardens, play hide and seek in the forest and just be outdoors all summer day long. For now, we are bound to be city slickers. Despite taking a few camping trips and going on hikes this summer, it was made obvious to me today that our children do in fact suffer from NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder).

I was interrupted from watching our Sunday service online with some commotion downstairs. When I looked down, my daughter who was still in her pajamas, put on her flip lops and my rain coat, and with big eyes looked up at my confused face and said,

"Mom, I am going outside to look at the stream."

"What stream?" I asked in confusion and looked outside at the pouring rain. Our first Autumn rain. Sign.

The sheep followed her... look at the stream that was made by my neighbor's clogged gutter.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An Encounter With a Whale

First contract day of work, convocation, the most beloved event by all. This is when the first part of the morning is spent by the administration waking us up from the summer daze, cheering us on that the new school year has started and how we teachers can do absolutely everything. The next part of the morning is spent by listening union reps telling us not to work too hard and not to do things that are not on our contract and not to hesitate to contact them if the principal asks to hold the door for her when you are on your way out of the building. It is on this day that I had an encounter with a whale.

I woke up at 5am that morning and could not fall back asleep. I was having convocation jitters, I think. Guilt is also most overwhelming during the first days back from being home with kids for a prolonged amount of time. And I was feeling just that. Guilt. I get so used to being home and having a certain routine that I almost forget what it is that I do for a living. Anyway, I pulled up to the parking lot a few minutes early and the only free parking spots empty were marked "reserved". Because the entire district staff meets at this school, it is often assumed that these signs can be ignored. As I pulled up to park, a person in the newly parked car rolls down his windows and says

" Did I take your parking spot?"

"No, I thought I just took someone's spot", I answered.

Just then I recognized that I was speaking to the superintendent of our district.

"How about we just park here for now", he said with a smile.

I felt like saying "Whatever you say, your majesty", but refrained.

As we were walking to school we exchanged some small talk. He asked me about my home school and what I do there. The conversation (naturally) then led to me being a mom of three and staying home with them when I am not at work. He told me about his three children as well. When that wrapped up, I felt the need to say something clever but nothing clever came out. Just then, I felt smaller than a sardine walking next to him and I realized that I have absolutely nothing to say to a whale.

Perhaps I could have asked him how it was to balance a budget that was several million dollars in red. Or how he felt about cutting so many teaching positions. Or I could have asked him if he enjoys his $200K salary alright. Or I could have asked him whether or not he likes education after being in it for 33 years. At least I would appear well read and intact with the district news. Right.

Instead, some nonsense came out and the conversation ended with him telling me to enjoy my children because they grow up way too fast. I thought about that and about how I am just not that great at coming up with clever answers at the spur of the moment and how by the time I process things it is too late to say it.
I am sure he forgot my name the very second I gave it to him, but I'll probably remember this early morning for a long time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Art of Flexibility and Discovering Eastern Oregon

I have not always understood it. I liked things to be predictable, I did not always know how to act appropriately when surprised. I did not like to be caught unprepared or off guard. That was until I married the love of my life who was completely opposite than me in that sense. He grew up in a big (more like humongous) family where life happened and children were used to adapt to whatever happened and everyone was expected to go with the flow.

When we first got married, we would often have friends or family over for dinner or tea. Being a young wife, I enjoyed learning how to cook and serving (though nervously) our guests. I had the time to get prepared to do the best I can as dinners were planned ahead of time. However, I soon understood that members of my husband's family like to stop by each others places often without prior notices. When they would show up I would become a nervous wreck thinking about what I am going to feed them and whether my house was tidy enough for me to receive such important guests as in-laws. Truthfully, I did not enjoy such surprises. I think this was because I was too insecure back then and did not want to create a bad or wrong image of me.

But as time went by and we got busy raising small children, working and going to school, I relaxed about their visiting. Now when they show up and my house reflects the presence of small children, I don't blush a bit but welcome them in and if I don't have something great to offer them, I offer them what we do have. Often times we drink tea with whatever sweets we have. I enjoy conversing with them and seeing their children. Our most interesting and valuable time with friends and family often happens when their visits are spontaneous. The focus is not on food then, but on fellowship. I love meaningful fellowship.

Another thing I had (and often still have) a harder time to adapt to is the constant unpredictability in our life as a family. Because my husband is self employed, we never know more than a month (sometimes a week) ahead if there is a paycheck on the horizon. I often don't know what time he will come home. More than once he had to cancel our evening plans because of work or church related issues. Just today, he called from a choir practice asking me to come and play for the choir because there was no one to play the piano. I had to cancel all of my plans and work I was in the middle of and rush to church. Though I returned home to the work I left behind, it felt good to serve others.

Another aspect of our life that is unpredictable and requires devout flexibility is family vacations. Because of the nature of my husband's job and its instability right now, it is hard to plan family trips that last more than one day. Every phone call is a matter of a paycheck now and to leave somewhere far away from home for a period of more than a couple of days, can mean a loss of a valuable costumer. So I am usually given one, maybe two days if I am lucky, to prepare the family for say, a camping trip. The last little camping trip we took really tested my flexibility. I had a morning to get everything (including my husband's not so clean truck) ready as my husband surprised me in the morning with leaving for work. My sister in law generously offered us their tent and food and I was happy to offer her money for the food because it meant that I didn't have to go grocery shopping and come up with a menu. By the time Peter got done with work ( about 2pm) I wasn't sure if I wanted to go anymore. I am glad we did.

We have discovered a small but gorgeous part of Eastern Oregon. The campsite was right on the river front. Tewilliger Hot Springs were a short twenty minute drive.

These mineral waters are so cleansing and the setting is gorgeous. If you go there though prepare to meet an Eastern European or a hippie who is happy that


Clear Lake whose waters are truly clear and compare to blueness to the waters of Hawaii only much colder and where fishing is abundant is also pretty close to the campground. You can rent these boats for only $30 per day.

There are also beautiful waterfalls close to the lake which we didn't get to see because we only stayed there one night. Though this trip was short, it was worthwhile for us to enrich our lives if only a bit with this beauty.
This is why I find flexibility to be an art. Unpredictability and risk taking often gets you places you never even dreamed of. Flexibility prevents conflicts. It is about putting aside "me" and attending to the needs of others.
It is true that because of the lack of sufficient planning time, we are often not too well prepared for our trips. It is not unusual to forget something or to get lost going somewhere. These things can be frustrating, especially because we are dragging three little kids with us. But it only challenges us to make do with things we have and overcome obstacles. I remind my self that family time is about being together not about being together in perfect circumstances.
Life happens and sometimes its nice not to be prepared for it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Secret Experience

It has been awhile since I've visited this place. When I felt something sharp poke my chest, I knew it was time. Unfortunately for me, only this place carries a product that satisfies a woman whose "grand tetans" have changed in shape and size at least four different times over the last eight years. It is unfortunate because I hate to support this company. The store is loaded with pictures of half naked teenage looking girls whose face expressions should really be saved for a private bedroom. I seriously don't know how human males can stand to be in that store without making fools of them selves.

Did you know they can measure your size right there in the middle of the store? At first, I was taken back by that but after seeing how long the line to the dressing room was agreed to this service but not without dragging the measurer to the corner of the store.

In the dressing room, big pink letters printed on the mirror encourage customers to STRIP. Never mind the fact that a lot of their customers are teenage girls. The customer service teenagers in black run around, bump into each other, sign a lot, roll their eyes and pretend to be doing something very important.

I was relieved to hear a customer service teenager tell another teenager who was holding his girlfriend's hand in the line behind me that boys are not aloud in the dressing room. He mumbled something and she then spelled out the rule by explaining that as soon as his friend crosses a marked line he is to leave the dressing room immediately! I don't think he was too disappointed because he then got to sit in a chair or wonder around the store and stare at very similar images he would see in the room.

The quality of their products brings me in to this store once every two years or so. I wish they would somehow figure out a way to market their product in a less seductive way because there is something abnormal with its effectiveness if women looking at half naked women makes women buy more underwear.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I am not sure where I read this, but someone somewhere said that there is great power in a written word, especially when the writing is done by you. Though this is not novel, I often forget how true it is. Think of a grocery or a "to do" list written by you. It is sort of a contract one makes with him/her self to only buy whats on the list or to get to things that have long needed attention. There is a sense of accomplishment when item purchased or things that got done get crossed out. The contract one makes with him/her self got fulfilled. So, I am going to exercise this power right here, right now and write down things I have wanted to accomplish at least since the beginning of summer, but have not been able to for reasons varying from sleep deprivation to plain old laziness. I want to start with my plan for tomorrow morning:
  1. 5:30am get up no matter how much times I am awaken during the night
  2. 6-7 drag a few other friends from their beds and go walking/jogging
  3. 7-8 drink coffee, read the Bible, meditate
  4. 8-10 go blueberry picking

* repeat bullets 1-3 every M, W, F atleast until school starts

Things to get done before I am back at work and school:

  1. sell: barbecue, air conditioner, palm one on craigslist or eBay
  2. call Qwest in hopes that the modem I was supposed to return half a year ago has not become a dinosaur and that they are still willing to pay me for it
  3. find college books online and save my self money
  4. decide if I want to keep immunizing my kids and if yes bring them in for some shots
  5. organize storage room AKA "Abby's Office"
  6. Develop and organize gazillion pictures and make some albums including one for baby Tim. Sorry kid, but your parents turned out to be one of those LOTS of pics and videos of #1, MANY pics and videos of #2, and WHERE are pics and videos of #3? kind of parents.

There, I have it in writing. A contract is made. Y'all are my witnesses. If I see you and fail to make eye contact with you, I have probably failed at atleast three of the above. And thats very much a possibility because you know whats more powerful that a written word? A human will. Because only IT could get a night owl and sleep deprived individual up from a cozy bed at an ungodly hour in order to circle a neighborhood. And that my friends, is power.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Family Picture Time!

The time has come for me to get my act together and take the family out for pictures. Not an easy task! This particular photo shooot was not without its obsticals.
When looking for matching outfits, I was tempted to run to the store and spend x amount of money to get us looking all picture perfect. I then remembered that I am smarter than that (or when I used to be) and combined a set of outfits that did the job just fine.

My sister could only take pictures of us after work, which was about 5pm. So, on our way to the Rose Garden, the two youngest males of our family fell asleep in the car. My sister took pics of me posing close to the parking lot while they were sleeping. I am pretty new to this...I did not feel myself. Can you tell?

My husband, who had to take his own car to the place, got lost. Kiddos got a few minutes of extra sleep while he found his way but then had to be woken up for the photoshoot. Ever tried to do that before? This resulted in them looking sleepy and being cranky for the first few pictures.

I also discovered a mysterious stain on my baby's very white shirt. It doesn't look like it showed up on pictures much though it was pretty noticable.

Kids were kids and were goofing off most of the two hours we were there which made it great to take single pictures of them but almost impossible for family pics.

Of coarse, what photoshoot is without a kid falling into the fountain? Not our family's!