living. loving. laughing.

living.  loving.  laughing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

mortification, 9th grade style.

I was a freshman in high school, and I was as 9th grade as they come: I pretty much wore the same outfits week after week because they just defined me. I had my Scottish skirt and my dresses from Hawaii, and my stretch pants. And I worked it. So here we were, 14 years old at McNary High School in Keizer, OR 97303. [Side note: I love zip codes!]

My friend Birdy and I had MADE it big-time: we had auditioned and successfully gotten a role in the chorus of the all-time favorite high school musical, GREASE. So when the bell rang at 2.15 one cloudy afternoon, we quickly figured out the math that we had just enough time to take a bus to our old middle school, pay a visit to our favorite teacher, and bus back to the high school in time for play practice at 3 o'clock.

The plan worked for the most part, except for one minor detail: we didn't make the bus back to the high school. We ran. We speed-walked. We sweated. And we freaked out, because what if we ended up late for play practice?!

Finally, right near 3 pm, we arrived at the back of the school, only to realize that a 15-foot chain link fence stood in our way. Why would there be a back entrance to the school, when only one entrance was sufficient?

Fear not! Birdy was a professional fence-hopper.

I, alas, was not.

Birdy, the pro that she was, hopped up and over the chain-link fence in about 2.5 seconds.

Cara, the professional fence-hopper that she wasn't, hopped up the chain-link fence in about 2 minutes and got stuck at the top. With the aforementioned stretch pants on, plus penny loafers and a butt-covering sweater to boot.

I swayed and wavered at the top of the fence, trying to get over the little spikey things at the top, while my hands bloodied and subsequently wiped themselves on the white stretch pants.

Meanwhile, with Birdy motioning me to "Get down!" from the bottom, so did the restless spectators: the three lanes of traffic behind us, honking and shouting their words of encouragement in the process - and the three football teams, who had stopped their afternoon practices and were watching this spectacle of a freshman girl who couldn't quite get over the other side of the fence.

I was mortified.

I was embarrassed beyond belief.

But most of all, I was SO afraid that I'd get kicked out of the play! What, no "Freddy, My Love," no, "Summer Lovin'"?

We aborted the plan: I climbed back DOWN the fence, blood on my torn white stretch pants and all, and Birdy huffily climbed back up and over the fence - in, of course, about 2.5 seconds.

And as we walked, with our heads hanging droopily between our legs, we then came to realize that not more than 100 feet in front of us was an actual back entrance to the school: a real live opening for us to walk through and not have to climb up and over.

It was mortification at its finest - but it makes for a pretty good story almost twenty years later. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

the I wants and the I'm learnings.

Do you ever feel like you're having one of those days filled with learning life's lessons?

I feel like I'm having one of those YEARS.

And it's good, but it's hard.

I want to be right - but I'm learning to let go.

I want to love more - but I'm learning that it must still be simpler than I'm making it out to be.

I want to follow my heart - but I'm pairing that with not getting ahead of God's timing.

I want to shout answers from the rooftops because I've been through the muck and I don't want these loved ones to experience the ickiness and stickiness and grossness and hurt of it all - but they too have to sift through the sludge.

I'm learning that what I want isn't always what I need, or what fits into the budget - and I hate having to then say no (especially to a favorite friend's wedding, like one this weekend...).

I'm then learning that saying no is a good thing - even if I'm not left with my five options to choose from at the end of the day, like I boasted about at age 22.

I'm learning to ask more questions and try to listen even better, because I don't know it all yet - but a lot of times I think I do know it all, so I have to go back to the beginning.

And whether it's in marriage or with family and friends, or even with my precious (...) middle and high school friends, sometimes there are more questions than there are answers. And that doesn't always seem fair ...but maybe it helps to mold us and shape us and make us better and wiser people along the way.

What are you learning?

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I used to hear the word "precious," and think of babies, or in a more pastel and cheesy sort of way, the cherubim-like porcelain figurines of my youth: Precious Moments. But recently precious has taken on a whole new meaning...

1. My husband is precious. He's precious when he turns into a giddy little school boy when football is on. He's precious when he thinks that I'm the best cook in the world. He's precious when, as he's doing right now, he does his nightly stretches. He's precious when he takes the dog out. He's just precious in general.

2. My dog is precious. I know, Mr. Darcy, the psycho canine that he is, how can he truly be precious? Oh, but he is. He's precious when he gets scared (over the toaster, no less...) and nuzzles up next to me. He's precious when he gets so excited upon seeing neighbor dog and fur-covered compatriot Ruckus, and he gets that doggy-smile on his face. He's precious when he sprints like a gazelle towards the chuck-it ball and I have no hope of ever catching him. [Hence why we will always and forever be working on C-O-M-E-H-E-R-E.]

3. My neighbor Mark is precious. This is Ruckus' dad, and he's become the most constant person in my life besides the hubs. Every morning he texts me with one word, "wuf," and I know that it's time to bring the coffee outside and commence throwing the ball with doggy 1 and doggy 2. We share life and laugh and ask hard questions and try to get our dogs to obey their masters - and that to me, in sharing life with the people in your very own neighborhood - is just precious to me.


I remember my friend Shelley telling me about when she knew that her husband was "the one": he was just precious to her. She couldn't help but see this beautiful quality emanating from Scott, this descriptor of preciousness. And "precious" to me at that time seemed the farthest thing from the masculine Knight on a White Horse we'd been dreaming of up until that point - but now I get it. I get that in the every day things of life, we see preciousness. We see the hubs and the dogs and the Mark's of this world, and we see them as precious.

And for that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

you're so vain...

you probably think this song is about you.

That is the theme of today's post, because somehow in my mind, I still think this song of life is about me.

I still seem to be suffering from ego-centrism, like I often teach about with middle school kids. Life is about me. The world centers around me - and when I walk into a room, everyone is looking at me, thinking about me, watching me, wondering about me, fill-in-the-blank _______ about ME. Hence, ego-centrism at its finest.

While on a lent kick a few years ago, I gave up make-up for forty days. That in and of itself was a feat for me because I'd been so used to adorning myself with Mac and Stila and Maybelline alike, but had become dependent upon it for beauty. I remember feeling distraught, knowing in advance that I'd be giving up make-up over my birthday. Oh, the one day of the year that I WANT to wear make-up! But that birthday came and went - as did the other 39 days, and the thing is, I realized and learned that all - ALL - of it was in my head. The truth was, no one really noticed that I wasn't wearing make-up unless I pointed it out. And the response then generally was something like this: "Oh really? Huh." NO. BIG. DEAL.

I'm so vain I probably think this song is about me...

Fast forward: somewhere over the course of, I don't know, October, November, December, my contacts really started to bug me. I was putting eyedrops in them all the time, and switching mascaras here and there [because I did start wearing it again, as I realized that my beauty wasn't dependent on this outward adornment...], and wearing my glasses more often.

My glasses.


Memories of wearing glasses half the size of my face in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades started coming back to me, and along with it came the silly name "four eyes," and the belief that my beauty was diminished by wearing glasses. Because there's that 7th grade ego-centric self that believed that she became that much MORE beautiful when she got contacts. She became bold when she didn't have to hide behind those thick lenses.

I'm so vain I probably think this song is about me. Don't I? Don't I?

So a couple of eye doctor appointments later, and we've found that there's a scratch on the cornea.

Not a big deal - in fact, it's pretty common. But it also means not wearing my glasses for a couple of weeks.

Am I silly? Am I vain? Am I normal? Do we all think this "song" is about us every once in awhile?

Signing off, Carly Simon

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

nostalgia. it's here.

Christmas has come and gone.

New years has come and gone.

Suddenly we find ourselves almost in mid-January, and I still feel like I'm trying to catch my breath. It's the reality that life really does go by in the snap of the fingers. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was standing, nervous and sweaty-palmed behind the trellis in my auntie's backyard, waiting for my turn to (finally!) walk down the aisle? Wasn't I just starting Young Life staff, like two minutes ago? Wasn't college graduation just a week or so ago, and I didn't have any clue what I was going to do with "...the rest of the story..." And here we are, January 11, 2011, and I suppose I'm feeling rather nostalgic.

I'm feeling rather nostalgic that my husband - husband! - just had the best Christmas of his entire 42 years-long life. And though it may not seem like "nostalgia" is the word to use, it IS because I just keep replaying that week in Oregon over and over again in my mind. I hear that when you become a parent there's nothing like seeing the joy of Christmas (or whatever event, for that matter), through the eyes of a child ... and here I get to see it through the eyes of another more seemingly grown-up child. But to see James absorbed and excited and elated over our silly, seemingly mundane Christmas traditions of chopping down the Christmas tree, eating crab and fondue for Christmas dinner, and handing out and opening Christmas presents, oldest to youngest, one at a time, I LOVED it. And this little tidbit week of nostalgia I'll continue to keep in my pocket to remember and cherish and hold dear to my heart.

It was the best Christmas gift I could have gotten - and granted, I need not take back that really, really pair of sparkly earrings or the Sunset cookbook or the beautiful quilt, but this, this was the best gift I could have been given.

I receive you, nostalgia, and all that comes with your remembrances.

Mr. Darcy (how could we have a post without a picture of the hooch?) got the Christmas munchies. Note the wrapping paper piece hanging out of the side of his mouth as well.

Tis the season for the kids (minus Brandon and Melissa) to have fabulously individualized Santa hats: Mikey goes Navy, Aleah goes rawwwwr, Cara the pretty pretty princess, and James with his earmuff-filled warmth!

Since their first Christmas, Mom and Dad have fought over their first turkey wishbone ornament - and this year was no exception.

The fam - minus the FOUR dogs - chopping down the Christmas tree!


Thursday, January 06, 2011

get yo' soup on

Want to know what soup's on for SOUPLA 2011 this Friday night? Let's see... (update: 3.31 pm, 1/7)

1. P-dub's tomato soup
2. Curried Coconut Chicken soup
3. Florentine white bean soup
4. barley and lentil with swiss chard or spinach
5. Greek lentil soup
6. bread!
7. red wine and sourdough bread
8. crackers and vino
9. panini press
10. wine, crackers, and a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew
11. homemade chili
12. minestroni + dessert
13. corn chowder --- or crusty french bread and wine
14. Safeway soup

Reply to this post, or email cara at with what soup (or bread....or crackers....or vino) you're bringing. See ya SOUPer soon!

(are the soup jokes getting old yet?)