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!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How Do You Explain That to a Kid?

We were driving from my mom's house after a funeral service that was held for my husband's uncle when Nicolas, our three year old, ease dropped on our conversation and asked:

Nicolas: Why does uncle T need a casket?

Hubby: So that his body could be placed there and later covered with soil.

Nicolas: Then how is he supposed to fly to heaven?

I often wish I had the ability to scan their little brains and see how they perceive the adult world and process adult conversations. We've told our kids on several occasions that when Christians die, they fly to the heavens to meet Jesus. That was probably easy to imagine for them. Now, that we told them that people's flesh remains here and their soul is what flies away, how do they picture that? A concept of a soul...yet another difficult spiritual subject to explain to a young child.