Family

The cat’s out of the bag…. 1

…in other words, the ring’s out of the box!ring

My super-secret trip to Napa Valley, CA this weekend was more than just a quick getaway — I was on a mission to help my brother pull of the perfect proposal!

Not sure which is more surprising…the fact that my little bro actually trusted me to keep the entire thing a secret, or that for the very first time my adult life, I am sick of wine.

Regardless, the plans went off without a hitch. She said yes! We munched on goose liver pate, sipped on Cristal and brunched ’til we were blue in the face. It was an absolutely perfect weekend, and I was honored to be a part of such a special milestone for my brother and sister-in-law to be!

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Fatherly wisdom (teeth)

Fatherly wisdom (teeth) 1

“Remind me to go through that box with you before you leave,” my Dad said as he ushered me into my childhood bedroom. He gestured to a dusty looking Costco box that had to be at least 30 years old.

“What’s in it?” I asked sleepily. It was nearly two in the morning, and I was exhausted from my late-night flight to Seattle.

“It’s stuff from Norway,” he revealed with a grin, knowing goods from the Motherland would peak my interest. “Your Grandpa and I brought most of it back from our trip in 1980, but there’s also some things my grandparents brought over with them when they came to America.”

I hugged Dad goodnight, crawling into bed with visions of the colorful wool textiles and hand painted rosemaling I’d be bringing back to Minnesota with me.

Turns out, I had slightly misinterpreted Mark’s invitation. Apparently, “I want to go through that box with you before you leave” roughly translates to “I’m going to show you all of this really amazing stuff…but you can’t have any of it until I die.”

In some ways, this was understandable. The hand-carved wedding bowl that’s been in our family since 1701? The wooden butter-mold my great, great grandparents used on their farm? Sure. These are things Dad can watch over for as long as he likes.

A family heirloom for 314 years...that's almost as old as Madonna's arms!!

A family heirloom for 314 years…that’s almost as old as Madonna’s arms!!

But the dozens of decorative plates, hand-woven cloths and traditional Norwegian pottery? That I did not understand.

“Dad…it would be one thing if you had these on display. But you’re just putting them back in the box. No one can appreciate them that way!”

“I can appreciate them that way.” he responded sternly.

“Yeah…but don’t you think Grandma and Grandpa would want people to actually be able to see this stuff? What’s the point in keeping it hidden in storage?”

“You can have it when I’m gone.”

“Wouldn’t it be better to enjoy it while your alive? I mean…you’ve got to admit those black plates grandpa picked out would be perfect in my house.”

“There’s other kids in this family besides you, Katrina.” Dad reminded me. “I want your brothers and sisters to be able to look through all of this, too.”

Come on, Dad!” I whined impatiently, “I’m literally asking to take two things out of the forty items you have in this box. Two things. There will be plenty of stuff for the other kids. Plus…none of them even have a house to hang any of this up in.”

“Katrina,” Mark grumbled, “The answer is no.”

It was as if I had been transported back to my fourteen year old self. I dramatically sulked upstairs to my bedroom, where I could be surrounded of the comforts of my adolescence. (Namely Dixie Chicks posters and lots of expired tubes of Wet n’ Wild lipstick.)

Ten minutes later, Dad had a change of heart. While he still didn’t want me to take any items from “the box” home, there were some other goodies from Norway in the china closet downstairs he thought I might be interested in.

“See these Viking ships?” Dad asked while pointing to a collection of intricately carved pewter replicas.

“Yeah. Those have been in there since I was a little kid. Jeez, Dad…how many of those do you have?”

There had to be at least two-dozen of them…as if a fleet of miniature vikings were prepared to attack Mom’s good Christmas china.

“Do you know what they’re used for?” he asked. I shook my head no. I suppose I’d never really thought about it.

He pulled a miniature spoon out of one of the ships. “They’re salt cellars. You keep them on the table and use this spoon to serve the salt.”

My eyes lit up. Scott and I have been keeping sea salt in a miniature cup for years, simply using our unwashed hands to sprinkle it over various meals and recipes. The tiny serving spoon would be so much more sanitary! And let’s be real — salt out of a pewter Viking ship is straight up gangster.

I explained all of this to Mark, asking if I could pretty-please-with-cherries-on-top bring one back to ‘Sota.

“I suppose,” he finally agreed, “But not this one. Let me find a better one.”

After a few minutes of digging, Dad’s hand emerged from the china cabinet holding the most beautiful salt cellar of all. He slowly passed it to me, asking that I be extremely careful when packing it. I could tell he was having a difficult time letting go.

“Thanks, Dad. I promise to take really good care of it. I’ll even…what the….are those teeth inside of it?!?!?!” Peering inside the hull revealed several white shards that were cracked, brown and covered in what appeared to be dried blood.

“Those are my teeth, ” Dad grinned with pride, “My wisdom teeth.”

Further questioning revealed they’d been stored in there since the 1960s*.

Thank heaven pewter can stand up to the sanitizing powers of hot, soapy water. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the visual trauma of gazing upon 40-year-old, bloody wisdom teeth. Still…a girl’s gotta take what she can get.

salt

Scott’s been eating salt out of this thing for the past four days. (I’ve yet to make him aware of it’s previous contents.)

*****

*I feel like this explains why I’m…you know…the way that I am.

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Teach me how to speedwalk

Teach me how to speedwalk 6

It’s become a bit of a family tradition — each time I’m back home in Washington, my parents and I take an afternoon walk around Chambers Bay Golf Course after church on Sunday.

chambers

fam

 

The course boasts panoramic views of South Puget Sound, and has a fabulous three-mile walking path, public park and doggie playground. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, and I wasn’t at all surprised to learn it was selected to host the 2015 PGA Tour U.S. Open.

Visiting Chambers this past weekend was especially wonderful as it was sixty-five degrees out. Sixty-five degrees! As my family leisurely strolled along the paved path, enjoying breathtaking views of the Narrows Bridge, I wondered why in the world I had opted for a life in the frozen tundra of Minnesota?!?!

This sentiment didn’t last long, as I was quickly distracted by my father’s…um…booty shorts.

shorts

 

The fact that I didn’t inherit my father’s long, shapely stems remains one of the great injustices of my life. How is it that a sixty-five year old man has better legs than I do? And less leg hair? I had to find out.

“Hey, Dad” I asked casually while picking up my pace to catch up with him, “What do you do for a leg workout?”

A mischievous grin spread slowly across his face. He turned his head toward me, a twinkle in his eye. “Speed walking.” he proclaimed dramatically with an eyebrow raise.

Of course. Speed walking.

Twenty minutes later, we had reached what I like to call “the hill from hell”. Anyone who’s visited Chambers Bay is familiar with the twisted uphill climb through the forest on the north side of the trail. It doesn’t matter if you run, walk, or crawl…that hill will seriously mess you up.

My dad, a good ten paces ahead of me stopped at the base of the climb, turning around to face me.

“Wanna do a speed walk race?” he challenged.

I instantly nodded my head in agreement…if only because I wanted my legs to look as good as his in a pair of booty shorts.

“Good luck!” my sister Hayley chimed sarcastically, “He’s really fast.”

“You’ve raced him before?” I asked.

“Yup,” she nodded tellingly, “He beat me.”

This is the point where I became frightened. My sister Hayley is an elite athlete. She not only competes in triathlons…she literally wins them. She’s also a competitive rower who travels the country racing Olympians in training.  And she couldn’t beat Mark in a simple speed walk?

I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Before I could grow too concerned, the race had begun. Determined not to be defeated by a senior citizen, I turned up the gas and walked with all of my might. But it wasn’t enough. I, a twenty-nine year-old fitness instructor, was getting my ass handed to me on a platter by an old man in daisy dukes.

Clearly aware of my struggling, dad stopped at the halfway point to give a me a few pointers in terms of form and technique. Here’s what I learned:

 

  1. Keep your elbows bent at ninety degrees, arms in close to your torso. You don’t want to swing your arms so much as you want to pump them.
  2. Long strides won’t help you, especially on an incline. The key to effective speed walking is short, quick steps.
  3. Lean forward slightly, bracing your core muscles.
  4. Don’t straighten your legs all the way — always keep a slight bend in the knees.

With that, we were off to finish the second leg of our race. While Mark’s tips were certainly helpful — my form felt better and I could tell I was moving with more efficiency — my father still beat me by quite a long distance. He powered out of sight immediately, leaving me to speed walk the final leg of the course in solitude. I wouldn’t have minded walking by myself had there not been so many people laughing hysterically at me. I’m not quite sure if they were making jests at my speed walking style, or the fanny pack I was wearing, but I suspect it was probably a combination of both.

fanny

 

Despite the masses of taunting strangers, I dug deep within myself to find the confidence to finish what I had started. You laugh in the face of public humiliation, I kept telling myself as I pushed through the final stretch. Moments later, I was greeted by a smiling father, cheering my on as I huffed my way across the official finish line.

If you take away one thing from this post, let it be this: Speed walking is not for the faint of heart hamstrings. My heart was pounding, my body dripping with sweat, my face red as a beat. “That’s a serious workout!” I managed to gasp between breaths.

Mark nodded with validation. “I told you.”

*****

Now that I’ve returned home, the speed walking experience keeps popping up in my daily thoughts. Much to my surprise, I really liked it. It was just as much cardio as a jog or run, simply without the impact on my joints. While an hour of running leaves my knees stiff and creaky the following day, an hour of speed walking would be much gentler, yet every bit as sweaty and challenging. Furthermore, I felt a serious burn in my legs while speed walking. During a run, my knees, hips and ankles are the first to grow weary, undoubtedly from repeatedly pounding the pavement. But with speed walking? My leg muscles were on fire! I could tell that in addition to getting my heart rate sky-high, there was some serious toning going on down there.

Booty shorts, here I come!

Over the past few days I’ve come to realize that I don’t want speed walking to be something I randomly engage in while back home visiting my family. Dare I say it, speed walking might just be my new running!

When I told Scott this, he instantly forbid me from speed walking anywhere publicly. (Especially while wearing the fanny pack.)

Looks like I’ll be forced to keep my new hobby hush-hush…at least from my husband. On the bright side, “The ‘Sota Secret Speed Walk Club” sure has a nice ring to it.

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Meme the Taylors

Meme the Taylors 6

I’m feeling a bit uninspired today, which is why I’m turning the tables and letting you come up with the dry humor, sarcastic reality TV references, and snarky photo captions.

In other words, it’s time to “meme” the Taylors.

(Oh…and for the one person reading this who doesn’t know what a meme is, it’s one of these….)

grumpy-catGod bless you, Grumpy Cat.

Below, you’ll find random photos from my iPhone of each Taylor family member. Leave your suggested meme captions in the comments section, and cross your fingers for good luck. I’ll be picking my favorite meme, and sending the winner a super-aweseome-yet-to-be-determined prize all the way from Maui next week.

(Unless you are allergic to macadamia nuts, in which case,  “super awesome” may  be the wrong term.)

I think that covers it. Ready, set….meme!

Katrina

(Scott secretly snapped this photo while I was passed out on a flight to Phoenix.)

katrina

 

Scott

Going back for seconds at In-n-Out.

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Jolie

Hiding from our nieces and nephew in my overnight bag

jolie

Penny

Being lazy, but at least she’s not pooping in the guest room.

penny

Random Jellyfish

While not technically a member of our family, I couldn’t help but include the gelatinous zooplankton I discovered this morning on the photo stream Scott and I share. I’m assuming he took this photo while we were visiting my Uncle’s beach house over the holidays…?

(Also assuming that this is in fact, a jellyfish. I’m about ninety-nine percent certain I’ve identified him correctly…but there’s definitely a small chance this could also be someone’s placenta.)

jellyfish

(Sorry, that was gross.)

*******

The caption competition runs until Thursday at midnight, CST. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

(And please…no placenta captions. I think we can all agree that one is more than enough.)

 

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