His Name is Kai

I received a very happy call yesterday from my brother with the announcement of his son’s name! They have decided to name him Kai. He explained that picking a global name with many origins in different cultures was perfect as Kai has a rich and mixed heritage of Asian, European, and some Native American descent. Kai means ocean or sea. Coupled with his middle name [which means help], his namesake is “an ocean of God’s help.”

I didn’t put this together before, but he also told me that Kai was born exactly one month after the bad car accident, one that is still causing him trouble from his brain injury. He said in that period of time he really saw God’s help and help from others as they prepared for the little guy’s birth. I later told him that phonetically, it sounded very similar to the Khmer word for “month” which is also a beautiful testament to how something beautiful can happen despite hard circumstances with time and patience.

People thought N+R were so strange to go the “traditional route” and wait to find out the sex of the baby at birth. They were further flummoxed by the fact they hadn’t picked a name on his birth date. It’s interesting to think that the first thing we possess isn’t material and is given by others; that’s quite humbling. A name carries so much meaning, whether it is after a friend, relative, or icon or was picked for the meaning or because it felt meant to be.

Something else that is quite sentimental to me is that since N+R are currently renting the old family home, baby Kai’s room was my old nursery. And so another generation of our family plants their roots in that home. ❤

Moments as Souvenirs

The last few years, as the friends closest to me move states away, I realize that the object of my vacations are moments together rather than sightseeing. Since everyone’s so scattered it has been fun to see their new haunts and homes and see what their state is all about.

This past trip was a long time coming. It’s been three years since I’ve seen this best friend and family (I did see her briefly last year when she flew out alone for her grandfather’s memorial.) I pretty much have best friends and then acquaintances, so I don’t mean to have her sound like she’s the only one that matters, but sometimes in life, you are so close to someone you are practically sisters/family. That’s the case here. She pursued a friendship with me during a dark time in my teens where I lost hope in people. From there, I stuck by her side through some heavy stuff in her life. We’ve seen the worst and best of each other, and because of that, we have a bond that is unbreakable. And as her family grew, I was at each birth and am an honorary auntie to her three precious boys.

Her youngest wasn’t even one when they moved, and I was nervous about how long it would take to warm up to me. We skype and my friend mentions me often, but three years is a long time for young kids. When they picked me up, the younger 2 were there and staring/adoring me. I had to stifle a cheesy grin and pretend I didn’t notice it. They wanted to reacquaint with me and that was taking in every detail of what I looked like. The littlest one was talkative and chattered with me right away. The middle smiled but was soft spoken the first day. The eldest was in bed by the time I got to their place, but the next morning, he hugged me and it was like old times.

God has been working great things in this family and it was so neat to just be a part of their week. All of them are doing so well there, and I can’t even selfishly wish they’d move back. I know they are where they should be and they flourish here. I am so proud of the life my best friend and her husband have made for themselves here.

The sweetest parts of the trip were all of us in the car getting eldest brother to school and praying all together before they got to the school. And all of us gathered, mommy, daddy, the kids, and me – holding hands and praying together at bedtime. And of course, hearing three little voices tell me throughout the day, “I love you, Auntie Laura.”

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Making lego gummies and gummy bears with Auntie Laura.

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At the waterfall fifteen minutes from their home. Yeah, it’s crazy. There’s water everywhere here.

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Pedis with the bestie!

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Frozen custard – A local favorite!

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Another spot not even 15 minutes away with gorgeous waterfalls.

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The rock formations and lushness around it just makes it even more breathtaking.

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So much green! So much water!

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Turtle boy! One of the funniest moments! The youngest is such a goofball! He was playing in his carseat, collapsed in it all buckled in, and started walking around like a turtle.

It was hard to say goodbye the last day. I know I’ll be back, but I also know an annual trip isn’t going to happen, so it’s bittersweet. My best friend and I talk nearly everyday though. We stay close mostly through messaging each other and social media and skyping.

I came back feeling really rested, really loved, and full of love. ❤

 

Fitbit Bits #4

I still haven’t strapped my fitbit back on since the whole cord fiasco. I’ve gotta eat crow for that. But moving on…

I’m moving!

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That’s a screen capture from yesterday. I use an app called Swarm to privately log in my workouts. Only my friends on the app see my check ins.

My boyfriend is on board with the gym too and that makes keeping the commitment so much easier because on nights we see each other we plan it into our schedule. We do our own thing at the gym but it’s still nice to have a buddy go with you. He lives too far to work out consistently with me but we usually get a gym workout in on Mondays and Wednesdays.

My parents made some hurtful comments last night about me being too busy and that I should focus on myself and my health. Well, yes, I should keep my health a priority, but what the heck guys, what do you think my gym stints and passes on your junk food offerings are? Chopped liver? It makes me upset because it negates all that I am doing and makes me feel like all they see is my outer self. Yes, I don’t look like I’ve lost an impressive amount of weight, boo-fricking-hoo. If they’re going to just judge me by appearance than I will never have their approval. Which is why at this point, I don’t care what anyone thinks, except that if they don’t have words of encouragement, I don’t wanna hear it. It hurts me more because blog-as-my-witness, I’ve told them that after the event this Saturday and my bible study wraps up 1&2 Thessalonians, I am keeping my schedule more open for organizing, cleaning, working out, eating right, etc. They know my intentions and yet keep ignorantly commenting.

On the plus side, I feel better in my clothes even though the scale isn’t moving much. I’m dealing with water retention problems after hard workouts and still haven’t found a good solution. And my event this Saturday is going to be awesome and all the work everyone is doing behind the scenes is worth it. We’ve raised nearly 30K so far for foster youth and that’s before  event day of donations and our silent auction!

Looking Ahead

It’s that time of year. You know, the one where Easter is around the corner and you scratch your head because it was just New Years Day.

This Saturday is my Uncle’s memorial service. It’s been rough on my aunt – she told me she is ready for the event to be over with. I think she’s wanting it to happen so she can have a final sense of closure. After all, he passed over a month ago. She’s very independent, strong, and a good kind of feisty, so it’s hard but also comforting to see her open up about her grieving. I was a blubbering mess on my Uncle’s last day, but she was as cheerful as one could be with a spouse on his deathbed. She kept things lighthearted and only paused to cry at the end. I can’t imagine how hard widowhood is. They would have celebrated 50 years in August.

The race and foster fair I am helping with is also getting very close – we’re 5 weeks away ! We’ve had a few setbacks but we’re hopeful that our 2016 event will be as strong as last year’s. Some of the little tasks I’ve taken on include calling local places for silent auction items. Talk about a stretcher. I am not a phone person. At all. I hope my awkwardness isn’t detected as strongly on the other side of the line.

In May, I’m going to visit one of my oldest friends and her family. I am so excited even though I have no idea what to expect (except humidity, ick!) How do you plan a trip to see one of the people you’re closest to and their family knowing it will probably be another three years until you see them again? Her youngest is four and I haven’t seen him since his first birthday. That breaks my heart a little since they all call me auntie and the only recollections he probably remembers of me are from Skyping. Her middle child just recently got baptized and start kindergarten this year. Her eldest was in kindergarten the last time I saw him in person! And I think the most exciting part is that her husband in the three years out there has recommitted himself to Christ. God is doing big things in their lives and I can’t wait to see it all in person.

I’ve decided to take another Bible study break after we finish 2 Thessalonians. We’re a little less than halfway through 1 Thessalonians are the moment and it has been such a rewarding inductive study. I like breaks because the studies are quite intensive and I’d feel burnt out if I went year round. I’d like to take the break to continue Bible art journaling and studying scripture on my own. I’d also like to use that time block in the evening to get more gym time in.

I feel like there are some big hills this half of the year, and who knows what the second half holds, but I’ll continue looking ahead with hope for the good things.

Dad and Daughter Time

I feel like growing up, my family kind of divided stuff. I went on outings with my mom, and my brother did stuff with my dad. I was homeschooled by him for a majority of my primary education so it’s not like he wasn’t around or we weren’t close. In fact, he was the relaxed parent and so Nate and I loved spending time with Dad (and sometimes conning him into our shenanigans.) But it seems like once college hit I just kind of let our relationship coast. My brother spent a lot of time with Dad and I figured it was just like when were were growing up.

Now that Dad’s been retired for over a decade, his mannerisms are very routine and sometimes scarily robotic. Like, I could guess that this morning he had a cup of cereal mixed with a single serve container of yogurt and drank coffee black with sweetener. And that by now, he’s probably been to the weather channel to see what kind of conditions our loved ones and friends in other states are being subjected to. I can tell you that around 5pm-6pm the TV is vouched for because it’s time for him to watch the local news. I can tell you that after dinner he hunches over the computer with a pair of headphones watching an episode or two of Netflix. And sometimes, that robotic also includes his interaction or lack thereof with family members. He does his own thing almost like no one else is around. It really bothered me when I moved out. I expected my family to pay some dang attention to me when I was over and made the time to be present, but usually my mom was chatting on the phone or busy cooking and my dad would say hi and go back to his regularly scheduled program.  I know he isn’t aware of this, but for years, I just decided it wasn’t worth it to change anything. Until a few years ago when I realized time is precious. And this year, when my uncle who is only months older passed away.

I feel like this is an area I fail a lot. Sometimes I am cruel to my dad. I hate to say that but it’s true. I don’t know if I feel mentally superior or entitled or that he doesn’t understand me…but it’s not good. Just this past week, in a rush to work, I told him it was worthless for him to wake up and make coffee 15 minutes before I run to work because 70% of the time I’m already about to run out of the door and he’s in my way. What the hell. That was not okay. But it came out. And this week after I made that poor comment, he has slept in and there is no coffee made and no one to share breakfast with. He has poor hearing and sometimes replies yes or uh-huh without letting me know he didn’t hear me. Sometimes he doesn’t hear right and that causes issues too. So yeah, I am sometimes short fused and repeat things until I’m yelling.

Despite some short comings this week, I willed to spend more intentional time with him because my mom was out of town. I proposed a dad and daughter date. We went out to dinner on Wednesday and I felt like what I was able to say was just small talk and felt awkward. But I could tell like all loving parents he was so happy to have me instigate a dad and daughter date. I asked him if he wanted to grab dinner and watch something in theaters. I let him pick the restaurant and movie. By the time I opened the door that afternoon he was ready to go and reminded me several times of the time in anticipation to start our night out. Even though we only small talked it was still nice and he enjoyed both the dinner and the movie we went to see.

Yesterday we also had dinner together and watched it while his 6pm news segment was on. Plates in hand in the living room, watching channel 5 news. We didn’t say much but he enjoyed the food and complimented it several times and was smiling.

I think I’ve learned two things this week. Maybe three. First of all, this intentional relationship thing is harder than I thought and I kind of stink at it. But, two, my dad enjoyed it and saw that I was trying. I think I need to accept that I’m a complex thinker and a very different and sensitive personality type and my dad is not. He’s a very simple, enjoy life and the small things kind of guy. He’s practical and on the range of emotional empathy scores very average while I over analyze everything. If I can remember this and not try to expect too many social cues and responses I think it’ll help me. My mom is more like me, more complex, very sensitive to others reactions and emotions, and reacts more to compliments and general comments. I’ve spent a lot of time appreciating that and not enough time appreciating the benefits of my dad’s personality and personhood. It’s that personality that still got excited for a dad and daughter date the day after his daughter complained about his small act of love of getting up earlier than he likes to make coffee for both of us. The personality who said nothing in response though he has the right to as I ran out the door. The one who selflessly tried several times to let me pick the dinner spot and movie because he wanted me to enjoy it. The one who smiled ear to ear as I walked in after work on Wednesday knowing he’d be spending the whole afternoon with me. ❤

Life Happenings: Moving, Bible Journaling, Organizing

The move is over! It’s crazy how arduous an in-town move can be. It didn’t help that I was sick and lacking sleep. On Saturday, I had a great set of helpers and we got a majority of the larger items moved via a uHaul truck. On Sunday, we tackled the “small stuff” and boy did we have a lot of small to sweat! My roommate and I went over bright and early and I quickly realized how much we’ve accumulated. She was a dear and let me concentrate on my room while she packed up the entire kitchen. Because of our change in living situations, she has to be more conservative of what she could take so I’ve got a lot of stuff packed under my name that we shared to sort through and donate.

Around 2pm, we realized that it was more than we could handle. My mom offered to come help and I realize now that she did a majority of the wiping down/vacuuming/sweeping/etc for us! So grateful for her help! Our knees and legs were also giving out so around 4pm we rallied up my brother and his friend. I don’t think I can ever live in a second story again! After two upstairs dwellings, this moving process was killer. I’m so done. I’m pretty sure I did about 50 trips or more total in three days up two sets of stairs and a third small set. Jello legs for days.

I never did get to belongings outside of clothing for the KonMari process, so I am taking the unpacking time to use the method to settle that. I still have WAY. TOO. MUCH. Even with paring down clothes, I realize I have too many still. KonMari requires you to tidy with a plan. What are my dreams? To be flexible and not be weighed down to belongings so when opportunities arise, I can take them. To keep messes minimal so I can be emotionally and mentally focused on creating and learning for career and personal development. So yes, that means much less.

On a fun note, I recently discovered bible art journaling and as I was searching for something that would encourage me in devotionals and keep my creative streak, I am so excited to start! The last few years the Bible has become newly refreshing to me. It’s like I’m seeing it with a brand new pair of eyes. Now I can note all I’m learning with not only words but pictures.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Something Borrowed:

A realiable gps with newer maps guides the way
The “dumb phone” lent to me since my cellphone broke

Something Blue:

Not being happy with how big I look in some of the pictures that were taken
The tee from the aquarium that fit me just right even though I was worried
The ocean as we drove around the coast
The unplanned color of most of the family’s dresses for the wedding
The feeling I get as I leave the airport knowing it will be a full year or more until I see my friend again

Something old:

The feeling of my legs after lots of walking
A favorite vacation spot
Em dancing with her son-in-law at the wedding at the ripe but lively age of 99
Remembering and retracing steps around a favorite aquarium
The San Francisco Bridge
The cells of Alcatraz
The photos at the memory table displaying loved ones gone to be with Him
Trying to recall how many years we’ve been friends and no coming up with a solid number
Familiar faces of friends and family gathered to celebrate a union
Relearning T9 text until my new phone arrives
My mom’s friend gifts a beautiful gilded hair barrette for me to wear as sister of the groom

Something New:

Learning that flounder flatten with age and are actually born fully upright
Being in the driver’s seat for a lengthy trip
A sister-in-law (finally!)
The first person in our cousin group gets married
My brother and his wife are now moved into a different city
My parents’ nest is now empty
A glass cup, pencil, pins, and a tee shirt for souvenirs
Having my best friend spend the night in a home of my own
Viewing the only albatross in captivity in the world (she is unable to be released)

Above are the snippets of a very full wedding week and quick vacation. Feeling refreshed.

Closer

“So are you guys close?”

There have been three questions I’ve heard on repeat since my brother got engaged.

1. “Ohh, will you be a bridesmaid?!” (No.)
2. “So, when is it your turn?” (Oh, bug off… This is not about me.)
3. “So are you guys close?”

Sometimes it’s a “How do you two get along?”

And the answer to the third question is tough. Am I close to my future sister-in-law? I’ve know her for about as long as my brother’s dated her. Six years. We know quite a bit about each other. But, in those six years she’s been off to college, then out of country for her job, and I moved out of my parents. I haven’t seen or spent much time alone with her. Which is not what I expected. I expected my future sis to reflect Nathan’s personality completely: sometimes loud, often funny, very outgoing, and a big conversation starter. Which is she not. She is complimentary to him and unique. Her replies are often diplomatic and carefully spoken before opinionated and sarcastic. I basically put all these expectations on my future sister in law and found out she wasn’t what I planned but is everything I wanted. But you know, I expected us to magically be BFFs since day 1.

She loves my family. She genuinely cares about all of us. Even the family dog.  She loves my brother wholeheartedly. They are totally devoted to each other. I admire how both have grown and planned for their upcoming big day. They’ve endured rough times and know how to resolve quarrels lovingly. Seriously, no one could be more perfect. And she helps challenge areas where he needs change.  She brings new perspective and ideas. She is brilliant and self motivated and I love that. I admire her resourceful nature and gravitate towards her ideas and am inspired. What more could you want in someone marrying your brother?

Wedding planning and all the life events leading up have given us more time together. Through all the planning before the wedding day, I’ve gotten some precious candid moments with her. Times where we joke together, conspire to bake brownies, just talk about our day, and do little things. And in those moments I realize how she’s evolved since day one and how our relationship has grown. How we’re more open with each other about big things but also able to chit chat and be comfortable in each other’s presence. And I realize we are getting there. We are closer. And I have all their married years to  grow even closer. To finally say, “Yes. We’re close.”

Stress Eating Happened

This last week was a detrimental one. It was full of stress and difficult dealings and I let it get the best of me. Not only was I a grump at times, I let my feelings get a grasp on my meal choices. A burger one night, pizza the other, a night of chocolate overloading…and my body definitely felt it. I’m surprised and motivated by that fact, even though it sounds horrible. My body let me know it did not like the compulsive unwholesome choices I made and for the first time in a long time, I had gastric distress, tossing and turning, and even horrible dreams! I honestly thought I was coming down with the flu one day.

I may not have much control of what goes on around me, but I do have control of my feelings and actions. While I let myself down, I know that it’s not the end of the world, and that I can change my outlook again on food choices. In fact, in retrospect, I am proud of myself for remaining rather collected in other aspects and not resorting to anger and attitude issues. If I have moved over that hump, I can hone in better on food choices next time life gives me a heaping load of crazy.

I spent more of my weekend at my parents than my own place to try to resolve some things. Two sale site ads and two trips later, one truck borrow, hauling, bringing chairs in while it rained cats and dogs, and some higher decibel dealings and we have a couch and dining set and basic moving plan for my aunt and uncle and a solidified wedding guest list for our side of the family for my brother’s wedding. PHEW!

I’m hoping this week will bring some TLC for me. I’ve decided to hold off on Bible study until after my brother’s wedding and reunion are done for sanity. Instead I’ll be focusing on personal devotions and reading through Systematic Theology. This means I won’t have three nights back to back of rushing to events and getting home around 9pm. Yes, you read that right! This Friday and Saturday I have a ladies conference that I hope will be encouraging and motivational. And tonight, I try my hand at a wine and painting event.

Family Dynamics

You know…driving is the worst time to be emotional and it always seems to be when reflection over thinking gets to me. I was five minutes away from home, groceries in my trunk, when my eyes got glossy at a simple thought:

“In three months, Nate will be secondary family. His first family, and immediate family will be his wife…Mom, Dad, me, we’ll be secondary in priorities.”

For some reason, that thought really brought on the water works. I pulled into my parking space and wiped my eyes a few times before carrying on. I had not thought of the new family dynamics after he weds. Being my only sibling, I do lean on him quite heavily. For a go-to buddy when I don’t want to dine alone, to the person I rely on whenever I’ve gone crazy on craigslist and need his car and arm muscles to help me haul my newfound furnishings…he’s always been faithfully there at the drop of a hat. That’s not to say he’ll shoo me off and not agree to a quick bite with me or a Netflix binge, but he will have someone who holds priority, and that is his wife.

This weekend I mentioned my crazy little thoughts and he shook his head and reassured me saying, “We’ll always be family silly, I’ll always be there for ya.”

Which comforted my unnecessarily freaked out heart. ❤