Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thing Number Thirteen | Chores

This is how I perceive our division of labor:  I do the small daily stuff and he does the big weekly/monthly/yearly stuff. I’m not sure he’d agree, but that’s how I see it. And I don’t think I’d change it. I don’t want to be responsible for the big stuff like taxes. Paint fumes give me a headache. And I am not touching anything pertaining to technology or cars. No way. So I’m definitely grateful for all the big stuff he handles. But sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m grateful for the big stuff he handles when I’m doing the third load of laundry. Or loading the dishwasher with the dishes we used to eat the dinner I cooked. Or going back to Rite Aid, again, because he just realized he’s out of contact lens solution. Chores are a part of life, I know. But I was raised with a dad who did all the vacuuming, who always filled my mom’s car with gas, and who helped with the dishes. In addition to all the other weekly/monthly/yearly stuff he did. But, you know what? Come to think of it, my mom handled the bills. Maybe it really does all even out in the end.

Thing Number Twelve | Watch

I am watching my weight.

Wow, do I miss my 20-year old metabolism. I could eat anything with impunity and my weight never seemed to change. I avoided the freshman fifteen when I went to college. My wedding dress had to be taken in slightly just before the big event because I’d been accidentally losing weight through the summer. Well, that stood to reason; I was doing my hospital placement and it was very stressful and all I did was go to clinic and sleep. Mom used to heat up an enchilada microwave meal for me just before I got home and I’d eat it and then fall asleep on the couch. I did gain some weight a few years into my marriage; not exactly sure why but I took it right back off again.

Now I’m in my late 30’s and I’m 15 pounds over my ideal weight. In the good old days, I’d just eat a little less, move a little more, and the pounds would fall off me. Not anymore. Darn it. Now I have to eat a lot less (and I am really bad at that) and move a lot more (I’m better at that). I’ve been hitting the treadmill about four times a week. I walk at 3.5 mph or do intervals of walking at 2.5-3.5mph and running at 4.0-4.5mph. I’ve also been lifting 10 pound arm weights, doing a variety of leg exercises, and I’ve gotten back to my Pilates. I rotate through any of those about four times a week as well. Each exercise routine (treadmill, weights, etc) is 20 minutes long and I watch a DVRed episode of “The Big Bang Theory” while I’m working out. I’ve been working out for two months now and I haven’t lost a pound. Not. A. Single. Pound. It’s discouraging. I have, however, lost one inch off my bust, one and half inches off my belly, and a quarter inch off my thigh (well, presumably a quarter inch off each thigh but I only measure one). My upper arms definitely look better. My waistbands aren’t as tight. And everything’s a little less jiggly. I’m trying to focus on those positive gains but it still kills that the scale hasn’t moved.

Part of my problem is that I perceive myself to be less overweight than I am. In an America that is collectively struggling with obesity, where everywhere I turn I see people who are fifty pounds plus past their ideal weight, it’s easy to convince myself that I’m doing ok. That I look fine. But it’s really not ok. I’d be healthier if I weighed a little less. I know it and I know how to fix it. I just don’t really want to put in the effort.

Why is that? I feel better when I’m working out. My joints are more supple. I get less winded when I’m climbing stairs. So why don’t I exercise joyfully? After all, I’m watching tv while moving and I could just as easily be watching the exact same show while lying sloth-like on the couch without the added benefits. So what’s my hang-up? Here’s my answer:  I don’t know. I just know that I have to do it, it’s good for me, and I don’t really like it. Oh, well, gotta suck it up. But, wow, do I miss my 20-year old metabolism.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thing Number Eleven | Nourish

I don’t like to cook. I used to say that I hated to cook but now I just don’t like it. I don’t enjoy cooking. My mother is an excellent cook; we almost always had a home-cooked dinner when I was growing up. She says she doesn’t like to cook but you’d never know it. My sister is an excellent cook and she likes to cook. Here’s my thing:  I can slave over a recipe and Jon may not like it. I may not like it. Even if we both like it, all that work is devoured quickly and then what have I got to show for it? The memory of a great meal?

Here are some of the things I cook well:  enchiladas  |  beef stew in the crock pot  |  Mom’s biscuits  |  Mrs. Neufeld’s plum cobbler  |  Aunt Liz’s spaghetti sauce (but now I like to add quinoa to the recipe)  |  Mom’s tacos (we include potatoes with the ground beef and we fry tortillas for the shells)  |  potato cheese soup (I use a “Black Angus” recipe)  |  lasagna  |  tortilla casserole (I think this one is Aunt Amie’s recipe)  |  steak (I am gradually weaning Jon from needing to have his steaks cooked well)  |  cheating (and lower-fat) fettucine Alfredo  |  omelets  |  Mrs. Field’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies  |  quesadillas  |  Michael’s cheating (and lower-fat) refried beans  |  pizza (I use Trader Joe’s pizza dough and the pizza sauce recipe is from the Top Chef cookbook)  |  squash  |  jello eggs (embarrassing, but this is what Dad and Luke request at family gatherings)  |  pot roast with roasted vegetables  |  barbecue chicken (with Bone Suckin’ Sauce)

There are more things that I cook, but that’s the list that came to mind. Lately, I’ve been baking bread. I have Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day and I bought all the equipment (tubs to hold my dough in the fridge, a pizza stone, a pizza peel, all the different flours) and, so far, the breads have been a success! My favorite is pain d’Epi but Jon made an amazing French toast from my granola bread. I’m lucky that Jon is interested in cooking. He’s my breakfast guy:  pancakes, French toast, and crepes. He’s also a baker:  his molten chocolate lava cakes are unbelievable (the secret is almond extract) and his cinnamon rolls at Christmas are acclaimed throughout both our families. Jon also makes the only kind of sweet potato I like (besides sweet potato fries). He makes a mashed sweet potato, topped with caramelized apples, to take to Thanks-
giving and that is one yummy dish. Even my dad likes it!

I’m trying to cook more and to cook better. Luckily, Jon and I both love veggies. We’ve given some new foods a go:  quinoa, edamame, eggplant (that was a fail; it sort of poisoned Jon—did you know eggplant can be toxic?!?), yellow squash. Jon’s even given some old aversions a go:  he’s more accepting of onions and is almost able to tolerate bell peppers. Almost. But not quite. Last night, we had a light meal of carrots, grape tomatoes, and pain d’Epi. Jon ate that but I cut up my grape tomatoes, added some thinly sliced burrata cheese, topped it with chiffonade basil from my basil plant, and drizzled balsamic vinegar over it all for a modified salade caprese; sooooo good! I don’t like to cook but I do like to eat.

Thing Number Ten | Evening Routine

Evening is my favorite part of a typical working weekday and we’ve got it down to a science.

I get home from work first and make dinner. Jon calls me on his way home from work, so I can get the timing right. We usually eat between 5 and 5:30PM. Yes, I know that’s early but we go to bed early because we get up early. Basically our days are shifted toward “early”.

When Jon walks in the door, dinner is usually just about done. I try to meet him at the door and help him carry in his work stuff. After a hug and kiss, he goes to change out of his work clothes and I get dinner on the table. We eat at the pub table in our living room, adjacent to the dining room, and, after praying over our meal, we either watch the local news or a DVRed show, like “American Idol” or “Alcatraz” or whatever. After dinner, I clear and Jon goes to his office and works on writing reports or lesson plans. I usually do some reading (either a book or a magazine or I’m checking out blogs on the iPad) or watch something on tv or do a load of laundry. Jon is still working; he takes way to much work home, in my opinion, but he works in a litigious district and feels like he can’t afford to make even the tiniest mistake or let anything slip. If it’s not Wednesday (AWANA) or Thursday (Bible Study) or Friday (date night), I try to convince myself to hit the treadmill, often around 8 or 8:30PM. I’ve been pretty good about it lately. I mostly walk (3.5mph) and I occasionally run (4.0-4.5mph) a little, if I’m doing intervals, for 20 minutes while I watch a DVRed “The Big Bang Theory”, which is my guilty pleasure workout show. Then I take out my contact lenses, wash my face with my Clarisonic Mia, brush my teeth, and shower. I have always showered at night.

I like to be reading in bed by 9:30PM and I like Jon to be with me but he’s usually still working in his office. I double-check that the alarm clock is set properly and I slather my feet with lotion because if I don’t I get disgusting cracked heels. I generally fall asleep with the lights on (but I put my book and my glasses on the bedside table) and Jon eventually comes to bed. He turns the tv on to the news with the volume low. Then he turns the light off and comes to bed. He watches tv for a bit and then turns it off. I’m usually awake enough at that point for a good-night kiss and cuddle in bed before we both fall asleep.

This is a photo of the perigee moon or Supermoon, rising behind the San Jacinto mountains on May 5, 2012. Jon took the shot from our back porch. The perigee moon happens once a year when the moon’s elliptical orbit brings it to 221,802 miles from the earth, its closest proximity to the earth. The perigee moon appears to be up to 16% larger and 30% brighter than apogee moons.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thing Number Nine | Money

I want things. I want a certain lifestyle. I want to be able to travel. I want to live in a nice house. I want to wear nice clothes and pretty jewelry. I want to be able to buy without counting the cost. I want. I want. I want.
But I can’t have it all.

Money is something I struggle with. I’m definitely prone to retail therapy and I know, I know, that this is bad. It’s hard not to indulge; a little treat at the end of a rough day at work feels so innocuous. I also feel entitled to spend because I work and I have two degrees and I bring in a good income. If we can pay our bills, reduce our debt (school loans and mortgage), tithe, and help those in need, then I should be able to spend some of the leftover money without a care, right? Right? Hello, can I get an “amen”?

I’m just barely coming to grips with the fact that just because we have money doesn’t mean I get to spend it profligately. Thoughtlessly. Recklessly. Right now, Jon and I are a healthy, two-income, no-kids, still relatively young household. All this could change in the blink of an eye. One of use could become sick or injured. One of us could lose his/her job. I could get pregnant. (Ha! I wish!). And we are definitely going to age.

We need to save. More. And intentionally. I want to watch our savings grow. We need to manage our money better. Should we put our savings into a mutual fund? A cd? An IRA? We need to pay down our debts. Hard to balance that with saving, though. Technically, we could pay off the house right now. But that would clean out our savings and we don’t want to do that. We need to plan for our future. Do we still want to move? Will we have enough retirement? What about healthcare when we retire?

I think I’m getting better at it. Maybe. At least a little. I’m exercising more restraint. I’m using the Southern California Digital Library to borrow books for my Kindle instead of ordering from Amazon. I’m baking a loaf of bread as a treat for myself instead of buying a new bag. I’m realizing that I don’t need to take a souvenir home from an excursion; I’ve got the memories and the photos. I’m trying not to window shop because that often turns into actual shop.

I can’t have it all. But I have more than enough.

I may indulge in retail therapy, but not at Tiffany’s. This is a necklace I bought for Robin Ann for her fortieth birthday. We’ve been drooling over the Tiffany’s Christmas window display at South Coast Plaza since we were college freshmen. We never give each other extravagant gifts but this is a milestone birthday and I really wanted to celebrate her in a special way.

The Essie Turquoise and Caicos nail polish was an impulse buy at Target on the same day as the Tiffany’s purchase. Definitely a silly little extravagance but I kind of love it and Jon likes it, too, and it cracked me up that it was pretty much the exact same color as the Tiffany’s packaging!

Thing Number Eight | Transportation

I like trains.

Sure, I can and do drive all the time. All. The. Time. To work. During work. To run errands. To church. To visit family. To go do something fun. Or, best of all, to the train station.

I live in Southern California, but not near Disneyland. I am about an hour and a half from Disneyland. Not near a beach either. I am about two hours from a decent beach (like Santa Monica). I live out in the boonies, kind of. Not a lot of traffic out here, so I can zip around in my car with ease.

But I like to do things in LA or Orange County. I just hate to drive in LA or Orange County! It’s truly awful. The gridlock is horrific and so is the parking. I can’t stand it.

Which is why I like trains.

I can catch the Metrolink in San Bernardino if going into LA and then start zipping around on the subway or the light rail system. If I have to, I can use a bus (I’m not as much a fan of buses). I can catch the Metrolink in Riverside if going into Orange County or connecting to San Diego. During the summer, Metrolink runs trains to Oceanside that basically drop you on the beach. No traffic, no parking, just a sandy beach and a beautiful ocean. The train to LA terminates at Union Station which is an unbelievably beautiful building. And, right outside Union Station, is Olvera Street. Better yet, a block or two down, is Phillippe’s, home of the best French dip sandwich in the world.

Jon does not love trains as much as I do. He points at that trains crash. Well, so do cars. He notes that trains run on a fixed rail system and have to stop if there is a problem ahead of them. This is true. When I’m zipping around on train/subway/light rail/bus in LA, he worries that I will be robbed/attacked/assaulted. This could happen. I guess. But my parents grew up in LA, so it’s never seemed scary to me. And I have only ever had good experiences with trains. The same cannot be said of cars. What is it about me that makes the driver in front of me want to back into me?!? Back into me!!! I’m right behind you! Just look in your rear view mirror! I wish that had been a one-time occurrence. But, no.

So, yeah, I like trains. Oh, and planes, too. I like planes.

Thing Number Seven | Work

Work is the expenditure of energy
In the service of others
Which brings fulfillment to the worker,
Benefit to the community,
And glory to God.

John RW Stott

I chose my course of study very carefully. Both my parents were teachers, so I knew that I liked the vacation time. Both my parents were teachers, so I knew that I did NOT want to be a classroom teacher. Mom and Dad were excellent, amazing, wonderful teachers; the kind of teachers that students remember throughout their lives. But, wow, teaching is hard work!

I happened upon communication disorders as my major in an odd way. I was an undeclared sophomore who was tending towards a math major. Problem was, I was a mediocre math student. At best. Mediocre math majors can really only go into teaching. I’m not saying that all math teachers were mediocre students but I am saying that mediocre math majors can only go into teaching. Or into some totally unrelated field. I already knew I didn’t want to be a teacher, so that was out.

Along with my math classes, I was clearing as many general ed requirements out of the way as possible, one of which was a “communication” class. I didn’t want to take the intro class. I also didn’t want to take public speaking. Not for the usual reason of reluctance to talk in front of large groups but because I already felt quite comfortable speaking in front of large groups. Then I saw a class called “Introduction to Communication Disorders.” That sounded interesting and different. I thought I might actually learn something.

And I did. I learned that communication disorders are fascinating! Why can’t this 3-year-old pronounce the /r/ sound? Oh, that’s pretty normal? Well then, why can’t this 8-year-old pronounce the /r/ sound? Oh, that’s a problem? Well, how can it be fixed? Why is that poor guy stuttering like that? Oh, no one knows why? Could be genetic? Or not? Well, how can it be fixed? Why is this 80-year-old woman speaking clearly but not making any sense? Oh, she just had a stroke? Probably with damage to the medial temporal lobe? And now she has a fluent aphasia? Well, how can it be fixed?

So I dropped off my math classes (taking just enough to complete a minor) and got my undergraduate degree in communication disorders, followed by my graduate degree in speech-language pathology (an MS or MA in Com Dis or SLP is the entry-level requirement for the field).

And that was that. I had a career. I could’ve chosen to practice in a hospital or a rehab center, or I could’ve gone into a private practice but instead I practice in the public schools. You know I liked my parents’ vacation time? This was a perfect fit. I work in the corner of classroom (shared by the resource specialist program, school psychologist, and reading and ELD coaches) at one school and I have a tiny little office all to myself at the other school. When I’m at preschools, I tote my supplies in a cart and work on the floor in any space the school can give me.

I’m not passionate about my work. I don’t love my job. But I’m interested in it. I know I’m pretty good at it. I still think communication disorders are fascinating. And it fulfills Stott’s definition:  I’m definitely expending energy in the service of others, bringing benefit to the community, and giving glory to God. And I find that all of this is fulfilling.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thing Number Six | Me

Age  |  39. I will turn 40 in four months.

Favorite part of my day  |  Whenever Jon and I are cuddled up in bed together, morning or evening.

Loving  |  Our Bible Study group. We still regularly attend church but our true fellowship happens at Bible Study.

Longing for  |  Summer vacation. Longing for it with every fiber of my being.

Inspired by  |  All the stories posted by the women in the “31 Things” class.

Dreaming of  |  A superlative 40th birthday gift. I think I deserve it!

Needing  |  To pick up my stupid, lame, clearly unnecessary birth control prescription.

Navigating  |  The transition to 40. Leaving behind dreams from my twenties that I carried into my thirties and are now dead weight:  wanting to have a baby, wanting to live out-of-state, wanting a bigger/better/shinier/showier house, wanting a new career. All that wanting has got to go. Changes will come when and if they come.

Struggling with  |  The fact that Jon and I will make significantly less money next year. I hate this economy.

Knowing  |  That God is in control. I’m just along for the ride.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thing Number Five | Conversation

I am a speech-language pathologist. Conversation is what I do.
I spend so very much of my day in conversation. Case managing with colleagues. Going over the day’s lesson plans with my SLP-A. Discussing students’ progress with parents and developing new goals in IEPs. Teaching kids how to say /r/ or when to use the plural –s versus the plural –es marker or how to participate in conversation. Yes, I actually teach kids how to converse.

Conversation seems like such a natural way of interacting. You say something about something, I say something about the same thing, you respond on the same topic; back and forth we go, maintaining the topic, engaging with each other, and offering appropriate eye contact and gestures. Seems so easy, right? Not for all of my students. Some of them have to be taught how to have a conversation. What to say, when to say it, and how to say it. What not to say. How to wait your turn. What to do when you’re tired of the topic and want to change it. How to use your body language and not just your words in conversation. Not every kid picks this up through incidental learning. Some kids, especially those on the autism spectrum, need to be explicitly taught. And it’s not easy!

Talk, talk, talk, sometimes it seems like that’s all I do, all day long. So when the work day is over, I often don’t want to talk. I hate talking on the phone. Most of my conversations with friends and extended family take place via text or e-mail. I love having the technology that can give my voice a rest but keep the conversation going with the people I love.

At the end of a long day at work, I sometimes wish I was a librarian instead of an SLP. Then, instead of participating in all the conversations, I could just say, “Shhhhhh.”

Thing Number Four | Spirit

I’ve been a Christian since I was three years old. My daddy was the pastor of a Mennonite Brethren Church and he and my mommy had taken me to church since I was old enough to leave the house; so, probably the Sunday after I was born. I’d heard the stories of Jesus and believed that He was the son of God and God Himself and I was ready to give my life to Him and ask Him to be my Lord and Savior. Inasmuch as any three year old is able to make the conscious choice to accept and devote herself to a somewhat rigid and ardent belief system at such a tender age.

I’ve never regretted that choice. Sure, I’ve had moments of doubt. I’ve had times when I questioned God’s wisdom or His goodness or His faithfulness. I’ve cried out to Him, asking Him to reveal Himself to me, to prove that He is real. But I’ve never regretted choosing to believe, even when the evidence didn’t seem to be there.

In the thirty-six years since I first gave my heart to Jesus, I’ve developed and refined my faith. I went to a Christian liberal arts college and I have a minor (30 semester units) in Bible. I studied the Old and New Testaments, took an apologetics course, and learned how to study the Bible inductively. I studied great writers of the faith, like C.S. Lewis. Since that time, I’ve continued to question and deepen my faith. I think it’s impossible to grow your faith without questioning it. I’m constantly asking myself, “Why do I believe this?” Is it supported by the Bible or is it just a tradition? If it’s a tradition, is it one that I accept? What exactly do I believe? Why don’t I believe what other people believe? What sets my faith, my belief system, apart from theirs?

Here’s a little bit of what I believe and why. People, as a whole, seek the spiritual. That is why there are so many world religions, from tiny cults to worldwide faiths. What sets Christianity apart is that it states clearly that it’s not about me, it’s about God. Nothing I can do can make me good enough for God. No amount of meditation or self-discipline or good works or prayer and confession apart from salvation can bridge the gap that sin creates between me and a perfect God. There is nothing I, in and of myself, can do. Nothing. All I can do is recognize my sin, acknowledge my need for a savior, and humbly accept the salvation that Christ offers in order for me to be reconciled to God. That’s all. That’s it. And it’s different from anything any other religion or belief system says. God offers salvation. All we have to do is accept it. It’s not easy to set aside my innate human hubris and admit that I need something apart from myself. But I do. I need God: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

Jon and Jamie leading worship at Bible Study. When Jon plays his guitar and sings as we worship, I feel the tension in me unroll like a ball of string. It's as if all the craziness of the week gets wound up in a ball that I carry around inside me. The ball gets bigger and bigger as the stress increases. On Thursday nights, during worship, the ball unrolls and the stress relaxes and I feel like I can breathe.

Thing Number Three | Reading

I read books and magazines and newspapers and blogs and e-books and PDFs and e-mails and websites and manuals and booklets and posters and signs and the back of the cereal box.
I read anything and everything. I read voraciously. It’s both a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because it is my absolute favorite thing to do. I don’t just read a good book, I inhabit it. I reread favorite books over and over again because it’s like visiting old family friends. A part of me is even surprised because nothing ever changes in books. It’s almost as if I think that, if I sneak up on a beloved story, if I catch it unaware, something will have changed. A bad thing because sometimes reading gets in the way of real life. When invited to hang out with friends or family, I may think “But I’m reading.” If Jon wants to go do something, even something fun, I may think “Maybe when I finish this chapter.” I almost always have the corner of a book shoved under the microwave to hold it open, so I can read while I cook. This has lead to some catastrophic cooking failures and some injuries. Both to cooking utensils and to me.

Books are my favorite but I subscribe to the local paper and several magazines. For years and years, I’ve read the paper with breakfast and I cannot fly without magazines. I read my favorite blogs almost daily. I am a recent convert to e-books. Oh, sure, I held out for quite a while. I love the feel and, yes, even the smell of books. Reading a physical book is a sensory experience. I absent-mindedly flip the pages of my book while I’m reading (which drives Jon crazy), because I love the way they feel. Jon offered to get me an e-reader but I wasn’t really interested. He actually bought himself a Kindle but neither of us was that into it, so he sent it back. Then he won a Kindle at ASHA, which was so cool that both of us felt that we kind of had to be into it. And that was the turning point for me. Because to be able to read Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (an excellent but enormous book) on a tiny little Kindle, rather than having to tote around an enormous hardback was revolutionary. When I found out that the Banning Library was going to be part of the Southern California Digital Library and I would be able to check out e-books, that was the icing on the e-cake. I was officially a convert. Later, we got the iPad which was also a revelation because now I could read magazines to which I already subscribe on the iPad. My Kindle books are also on the iPad (but I still love the Kindle because it’s smaller and lighter and I’m less afraid of losing it).

Probably my greatest fear is that someday I will lose my sight and, with it, my ability to read.

Here are a few of the things I'm reading lately:  the June issues of all the magazines to which I subscribe, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (which has me baking yeast bread!!!), Spindle's End (a novelization of "Sleeping Beauty"), blogs on the iPad, and An Ice-Cold Grave on the Kindle (a So Cal Digital Library loan)

Thing Number Two | Morning Routine

5AM by the clock (4:50AM real time):  first alarm  |  5:30AM by the clock (5:20AM real time):  second alarm—get up  |  Go to the bathroom  |  Pack lunch (unusual because I didn’t have to pack Jon’s lunch—he was going to an SLP meeting/luncheon at work)  |  Start the fire under the kettle and dump the cocoa packet in Jon’s mug  |  Water the plants  (a pot of basil and some kind of tree-ish plant that we grew from a cutting that Jon’s mom gave us)  | change the light bulb in the pub table lamp  |  Check e-mail on the iPad  |  Get the newspaper from the driveway  |  5:40AM real time:  Wake up Jon  (because it was a Friday he was in a good mood, so I got a cuddle and a kiss)  |  Iron work clothes  |  Pluck eyebrows, wash face with Neutrogena Acne Wash, and put in contact lenses (I’m too scared to get Lasik)  |  Read for a bit  |  6:10AM Take a photo of my breakfast (chocolate milk in a glass and a scoop of dry Cheerios in a tea cup—Jon kind of hates my breakfast) and then eat it while reading the paper  |  Start the dishwasher  |  Write a note to Robin Ann (we write to each other weekly; I usually write on Saturday mornings but I had time to write on this Friday)  |  7AM Pray for Jon, hand him his lunch, and kiss him good-bye  |  Write “Jewelry” journaling for the Ali Edwards’ “31 Things” class I’m taking  |  7:40AM Do my arm weights exercise routine while watching a DVR-ed episode of “The Big Bang Theory” which takes me almost exactly 20 minutes, since I fast forward through the commercials (TBBT is a guilty pleasure that I only allow myself to watch when I’m working out)  |  Brush teeth and apply lotions  |  Get dressed  |  Curl hair and do make-up  |  8:20AM Leave for work

Thing Number One | Jewelry

I wear three rings. Funny thing, whenever I get a new student clinician from Loma Linda University, I skim through the list of things required of LLU student clinicians and grin when I see that such students are to wear rings on one finger of one hand only. And even that was a concession from a Seventh Day Adventist institution that doesn’t really approve of wedding rings at all. Strong SDA brides and grooms exchange watches on their wedding days.

But I’m not SDA and I’m not a student clinician, even though I’m an LLU alum, and I wear three rings:  two on the ring finger of my left hand and one on the middle finger of my right hand. All three are from Jon (who, by the way, was compliant with this requirement when he was an LLU student clinician and wore just the one ring on the ring finger of his left hand and that one ring was from me).

First ring | My engagement ring. Jon gave me this ring the day after my twenty-second birthday. I was kind of expecting it but, as always, he made me wait and took me through a fabulous day of driving up PCH, stopping at Mission Santa Barbara and Mission San Luis Obispo, eating lunch at an adorable restaurant, and finally ending up on beautiful Moonstone Beach in Cambria with me crying in the car because I thought I’d gotten it all wrong and he wasn’t really going to propose. You’d think I’d be used to this kind of behavior, almost eighteen years later, but I almost ended up in tears last Christmas Day because the diamond and sapphire bar pin I’d been mooning over for months was the very last gift he gave me and I’d given up hope of its appearing.

Second ring | My wedding ring. Dad took Jon to the Jewelry District in Los Angeles to buy my engagement and wedding rings (so sweet). Jon picked out the diamond (a little over three-quarters of a carat) and two bands. One of the bands was used as the base for my engagement ring and the other was my wedding ring. Both rings are white gold. My mother’s wedding set is white gold and I’ve always thought diamonds looked better in white gold than in yellow gold. Jon and I got our rings engraved as our first anniversary gift to each other:  engagement ring “JDP to MJB 9/24/94”, my wedding ring “JDP to MJP 8/19/95”, and his wedding ring “ MJP to JDP 8/19/95”.

Third ring | My tenth anniversary diamond band. We spent our tenth anniversary at Huntington Gardens in San Marino and Jon gave me this ring at the end of the day, of course, while we were at dinner. See? I should be used to this. This ring is precious to me because it symbolizes ten years of choosing to stay together and love each other even after the sweetness of young love and the magic of the wedding has worn off. We’d gone through career struggles, health issues, and the non-appearance of the baby we’d thought we’d already have. But every day, we chose to draw together and love each other. Almost seven years since he gave me my anniversary ring and almost seventeen years since he gave me my wedding ring and we are still choosing to love each other. And I wear my rings as the symbol of that daily choice.

31 Things

I'm taking Ali Edwards' "31 Things" over at Big Picture Classes. Yes, it's a scrapbooking class but I haven't done any scrapbooking. I've been writing about 31 things in my life, starting with "Jewelry" and up to today's topic "Conversation". So far, I'm liking it. I'm liking that it's got me thinking about some of the stuff in my life and asking questions like "Why do I have this?" or "Why do I do this?" I turn 40 this year. If changes need to made, if I need to get rid of some things or start doing some things differently, I'd like to make them now.