Saturday, October 27, 2007

Loving My House

Something funny has come over me in the last 24 hours. I want to LOVE my house... passionately! The problem is, I never have. House hunting this last go-around (12 years ago and this is our third home purchase in 21 years of marriage) was crazy. I had four days to find my "dream house," during which time I was quite pregnant with our second son and overwhelmed by the prices of houses in southern California, let alone the lack of property one gets for those many, many dollars. We settled on Irvine mainly because the schools are known for excellence (this one has come back to bite me numerous times as my kids sit for hours on end doing homework and projects nearly every day of their lives!!!) and really, because I had no job lined up as of yet and we simply could not afford something on the beach. But I never loved the house. It was a cross-off, nothing more, on the way to moving and having a nest for everyone, especially a new baby.



Over the years I have tried to improve the house and make it more "me." Our previous two homes were old and historic, one a 1920s Bungalow and the other a 1950s Colonial. They both had a very cottage-y feel and reeked of charm. But this Irvine house was different. 1979 architecture, looking remarkably similar to three others on our cul-de-sac. Nothing special...no beautiful moldings, dark wood floors or interesting built-ins. I LOVE old houses. The funny thing is, this house IS old....for Irvine. But by my standards, it's a baby.



We had a new roof put on it first. We were the first on the block, actually, to do so but the Santa Ana winds had blown off too many wood shingles so actually we HAD to. Then, I bit the bullet and had hardwood floors installed in the kitchen, living room, dining room and front hall. Later we made other interesting renovations. Each improvement has helped me like the house more. But still.........sigh.



In the last day I have found myself wanting.....really wishing to love my house. The SoCal fires have left so many people devastated, without homes. My heart breaks for them and I realize my own selfishness. I am blessed to call this house my home on earth.



So today I worked on the front entry after cleaning the inside. The sky was still too smoky for a bike ride and my knee was not happy anyway so I skipped the gym, deciding to put my energy into the house. When I finally made it outside I was disgusted by the dirty, dark ash all over the place, leaves everywhere from the winds, and a few dead plants. However, I gathered myself up and 90 minutes later got the front looking better. And I just FELT better. Who knows? It might be love after all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My visit to Florida and returning home to fires...




What a week it has been! I think the most significant event for me was flying into the Orange County airport on Monday night after my visit to Florida and seeing at least eight horrible raging orange fires below. One could see traffic backed up on major roads coming out of San Diego. I had the random thought that, had it not been for my family, I would prefer the pilot continue on to Hawaii. So far, there have been 18 fires in SoCal and almost a million people forced to evacuate. In my own area, three fires were set by an arsonist amidst Santa Ana winds during which gusts were clocked at 80mph. I cannot imagine the evil in such a person. On Monday, two of the schools were closed near our house and our air quality conditions are horrid. Ash is covering our front lawn and I am barely letting the dog out, let alone my children! Please pray that these fires are controlled very soon. I keep praying for RAIN. The winds have died down which has helped significantly.


Onto the fun news! Earlier this week, I took a quick trip to Orlando to see my longtime triathlete friend, Aylin. Aylin is at the beginning of chemo and something in my heart made me want to see her and spend some time with her so off I went! She and her family were so gracious and I am impressed at how strong she is and how well she is doing. I am sure that doing repeated Ironman triathlons has helped and I feel very confident that she will kick this cancer in the butt! We had a lot of fun eating, talking, and temporarily taking in a stray little dog that she later arranged a caring home for. What a wonderful gal she is! I am so glad I made the trip.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Artist
















I don't know why it took me so long to realize that my youngest son should begin taking some "real" art lessons. I have known for quite some time the potential lurking, but school, homework, tutoring, soccer, tae kwon do and the fact that he is an extremely social creature seemed to overshadow the need and desire for something different here. However, he simply would not stop drawing. Hello? I noticed that he would often draw to express something he could not describe perfectly to me. And how easily he would do this! Occasionally we play the game Pictionary as a family and we battle over who "gets" him on their team. Not to mention the random art coming home from school, the google sketch-up designs he does in his spare time, the "animation" he constantly does with post-it note pads, the cartoons drawn everywhere on his homework and folders, and the sheer joy this brings him. Once, with some kind of on-line program, he drew a "new and improved" backyard plan like a budding architect, complete with a putting green, climbing tree, and hammock (he wanted to add a pool with a slide and swim-up "bar" but I told him there was no space (let alone financing) to consider that one for now. Yesterday he produced this dog pictured above. I love all the different kinds of art he creates, but he was more proud of this one than usual because he "got the shading right." He seems to be progressing the in the right direction from what I can tell (knowing nothing about art) and more importantly is enjoying the process immensely. It's as if a little seed was planted by God....and with watering and nurturing it could become a mighty tree!



























Thursday, October 11, 2007

NON-TOXIC CO-WORKERS

The message at church this past weekend had to do with dealing with "toxic" co-workers. Pastor Doug Fields (the handsome guy pictured here) from Saddleback taught the message, ending a series which included "toxic religion" and "toxic family members." Though the series might sound odd or negative, it really provided a fresh perspective on dealing with the more difficult (and sometimes downright evil) people that can enter our lives. How do we love them? When should we avoid them? It really was very practical. However, I found I had a difficult time relating. Normally I find Pastor Doug very engaging because he has a dry sense of humor and is able to convey much of what he intends to say in such a way that most anyone, regardless of their walk or talk, would listen. But for this one, I drifted....a lot. Why? Because I have the most wonderful group of co-workers on the planet. I would NEVER think of them as "toxic!" They are supportive, intelligent, funny, caring, knowledgeable and loving. We are all from different walks of faith, life and circumstance. I am proud to be a part of our growing group of psychologists. Really, through this series, all I could think about was how wonderfully blessed I have been. Honestly, at this point in my life, I really have no toxic family members nor co-workers. And for that I thank God with a heart full of gratitude.

Monday, October 8, 2007

JUST SAY NO


Well I have to say it. I am disgusted. In 2004, Germany's Nina Craft gave up her Ironman Championship (Kona) title after admitting to taking EPO. And then the Tour de France this year?!?!?!? What a JOKE! Are any of those cycling dudes clean any more? And now this with Marion Jones. Given the drive, genetics and all else that made her a speed queen sprinter BEFORE she ever trained for the Olympics the only question left is "why?"
I have raced two Ironman triathlons and in both I noticed athletes cutting the swim short. I don't know if they were disqualified or not, but the first time I witnessed this all I could think of was "Dang! I have trained my heart out for this race and I plan to cover every INCH of it to the finish line fair and square!!!!" WHY would you cheat in an endurance event like that? Why take a short-cut?
Another big question I have concerns what one is willing to endure, side effect wise, for some potential "win." To me there is nothing more appalling than that dreadful Mr. Olympia look...some guy packed to the gills with steroids who has completely ruined his body and likely his true masculinity and normal hormone regulation for...THAT? Are there no regulations on this kind of thing? What happens to them years later? What about pro baseball and football players? Is it just assumed that these guys use some kind of gear so that they are more powerful? What happened to doing the best with what God has given you? I suppose my thinking is quaint by today's standards.
I do feel sad for Marion. I hope that this admission brings some good to sports somehow and some forgiveness. But somehow I hear the same song down the road yet again...only it just keeps getting louder.

What is right and good and true is still all there, though. One only needs to listen a little harder.

Once a 6-pound baby...


My 14-year-old son, I do believe, has grown at least 2 inches this week! When I first saw this photo, taken yesterday by my brother-in-law, I was a bit shocked looking at how he compares to my 5'10.5" 185 pound husband.
In the past 14 months I have lost about 15 pounds. Oddly, at times recently I have almost felt scrawny...a very novel feeling for me. However, I realized yesterday that the reason for this funky sensation in actuality has to do with the fact that my older son is now taller than me and outweighs me by probably 20 pounds! Instead of looking at my little boy, I am starting to look at a young man. Further, he is eating us out of house and home. My grocery bill has been outrageous lately. I never buy cookies, preferring to bake them on the rare occasions I permit them in the house, but I did buy Oreos the other day for some odd reason. Last night my husband and I realized that our older son had managed to polish off about 24 of them in a 2-day period! Hello? Not to mention YUCK! Since he will mow through just about anything, I believe I need to take this "opportunity" to buy large amounts of his favorite fruits and veggies. I will happily take any other suggestions too. :)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Welcome!

Time for a blog! I have been writing in a journal for years and years, and very much enjoy the process of writing. There is a fair amount of writing in my job as a school psychologist, and I do believe I am one of the rare psych's that enjoys that aspect of the job more than anything else! This year I have a new job within the same district and I am finding I am on quite a learning curve. Having worked in this field for 20+ years, it has been exciting to feel a bit like a newbie. My hope is to use this blog to organize my thoughts and to help document life some.

As far as personal information, I have been blessed with a loyal, cute and hard-working husband and two *busy* boys, ages 11 and 14 (say a prayer for me). I have a somewhat stressful life at times, but it is always very rich and full. Addicted to cardio, I have been a triathlete for six years, although I am losing my interest in swimming lately. Cycling will always be a passion for me and huge stress reliever, and I am recently learning more about strength training.

My youngest son is emerging from a required tub soaking after his Boy Scout camping weekend. I decided to bake cranberry bread for him as well for as my hubby and older son who are currently hiking. Time for the mom role now! :)
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