Sunday, January 30, 2011

Things that drive me nuts right now that I'll miss later

I have this reputation among my friends of being the one who is not a hugger. Often, Erin or Tiffany will feel the need to hug me (probably because I need it), but they always warn me first. One of them will say, "I know you don't like it, but I'm going to hug you now." They are not entirely correct. It's not that I don't like hugging, it's just that it doesn't come naturally to me.

In my family, we are what I like to call "side huggers." Mom will come in after I haven't seen her for a month or so and we'll each put one arm around the other's shoulder and say, "hey."  Sometimes we'll go all out and I'll say, "hey, Mom," and she'll say, "hey, Stormy G." We're super-emotional like that.

Trey's family is quite the opposite. They hug hello and hug goodbye and sometimes hug because it's a commercial and there's nothing else to do. They are huggers.

I love my husband's side of our family very much. I am blessed with fantastic in-laws, and I often wonder what we'd do without them. In the eleven years that Trey and I have been together, I have become a little better at remembering appropriate hugging times, but I'm still not too great at it, and they forgive me.

Clearly, this is an argument for nature versus nurture, in favor of nature. Hugging just isn't my nature, even though I spend a great deal of time with friends and family who hug like there's no tomorrow.

The only exception is with my kids. I feel like I'm constantly hugging, tugging, loving on them. Deep down I know that some day they won't like for me to hug on them all of the time, so I'm getting in all that I can. Unfortunately, I think I may have trained them too well.

You see, the boys don't know how to sit next to me. If they are in the same room with me and sitting down, they must be sitting on top of me. I think it's completely unintentional on their parts, but it is, nonetheless, a fact of my life. Being a non-hugger, this extreme closeness is often difficult for me.

I sit on the couch, one of them piles on top of one leg, the other follows right along and curls up on the other side, and -- wouldn't you know it -- here comes the blasted dog.  It's very, very sweet. For about five minutes.

Then my legs go to sleep and my arm feels like it's going to fall off and one of them is yelling at the other in my ear and I accidentally get smacked in the face and the dog starts growling and a kid's nose is running and it's the most uncomfortable I've ever been in my life, childbirth included.

Trey always notices the uncomfortable grunts coming from the couch and laughs at us. I'm sure it looks hysterical. Every once in a while, I'll remark (with absolutely no sarcasm, I'm sure) how incredible it is that three people and a dog can fit on one couch cushion. The boys think that really is amazing, and they start jumping up and down shouting about how awesome it is. Of course, this makes me much more comfortable.

As I joyously enjoy these lovely little moments, I wonder what it will be like when they're teenagers and they don't want to sit by me at all. Will Tucker think that couch cushions are made for multiple people and feel the need to sit carefully on one cushion with his girlfriend? This will be a definite problem, and it might cause me to have a nervous breakdown or, worse, start hanging out in the living room with no make-up and no bra muttering to myself in order to scare away the skanky little girls that want to share couch cushions with my boys.

There's really only one solution. Chair-only seating in my house. It seems I have some couches to post on craigslist.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My life is like a sitcom, only better.

My random thought for today is that my life is like a sitcom, only without the lazy husband.

You know what I mean. Most sitcoms feature a slovenly, idiotic man who idles around while the family functions in spite of him. My life is like a sitcom, only with the opposite of that guy.

I picked up the boys from choir at church and dropped them off at the school because they rode their bikes this morning and needed to ride them back home. As soon as they left the car the race was on because they always want to beat me home. They took off down the sidewalk one way and I took off down the road the other way, but in my rearview mirror I could see Keaton running beside his bike to get it going fast enough, and then hopping on and pedaling like mad, like he was fighting to win his very own NASCAR race. I pulled around the corner to our house just in time to see him jab both fists in the air and scream "YEAH!!" because he hit the driveway before me.

I pulled into the garage and got out of the car, and Tucker said, "I know, I know. Get my backpack out of the car."  Yes, I was going to say that, and yes, he did it. Immediately after, he put on his new shoulder pads and one of his dad's Aggie jerseys, the only one that will fit over the enormous pads.

The neighbor kids saw that our car was home and biked over, so Keaton never actually made it in the house. They rode bikes in circles and cheered about random things. I came into a delicious-smelling house because of a roast in the crock pot, fed the dogs, opened the mail, and tidied up a little.

I went into my room to change, and then I started hearing these loud thumping noises from the living room. I gave it a few minutes, wondering if I really even wanted to know what was happening, and then finally relented. I found Tucker in the living room carefully placing the ottoman on its end and then running from across the room to tackle it, over and over again.

"You can't do that anymore," I told him.

"Awwwww, mommmmmmmm. I need something to tackle with my new should pads. Can I tackle you?"


"You're right. It's probably a bad idea because I might break your rib or something."

Hmmmmm...that's not exactly what I was thinking, but pretty close.

I stuck my head out the door to check on Keaton and found him working on his basketball skills while the neighbor girls cheered. He was using a volleyball, but whatever.

Tucker told me he was hungry, and I went ahead and gave him some roast so he didn't ruin dinner by snacking too much. He sat comfortably eating his dinner, properly padded up in case a natural disaster or NFL linebacker should happen to come through the living room. He's also eight years old now, so he has to look cool in pictures instead of smiling.

Keaton came in to get a drink of water, and asked, "What's that smell?"

"Roast," I replied.

"Oh, YUMMY!  Thanks for making roast, mom!"

Trey called to say he's on his way home from work, and he came in the door singing whatever song was on the radio in the car. In a few minutes it will be too dark for the kids to play outside any longer, so we'll make them come in, but only after some arguments and begging for a few more minutes. Until then Trey and I will have probably the only full conversation of the night.

We'll have dinner, Trey will clean the kitchen, the boys will take baths. We'll practice spelling words, read a few books, maybe watch a little television. Keaton will do or say something hysterical, and Tucker will throw footballs, baseballs, and other sporting equipment about a million times. Around 8:30 we'll say prayers together and put them to bed, and then Trey and I will watch our grown up shows, uninterrupted.

Life is just good.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Korean Spa Adventure, part two

I quickly learned that my therapist spoke very little English. We rounded the partition that separated the massage tables from the rest of the spa area and she instructed me to "face up." So I lay on the massage table (it was not covered in a sheet or anything), and she went to work on my body scrub.

And boy did she scrub.  She wore these little exfoliating mitts, and I  am not exaggerating when I say that she scrubbed every single exterior part of my body (but, no, she didn't scrub there). She scrubbed and scrubbed, and then stopped to pour bucket after bucket of warm water over me to rinse. I turned to one side, and she scrubbed and doused me with water, I turned to the other side and finally my back, and she scrubbed violently.

I can only describe it as a medical experience. She worked with great tenacity and resolve. Was it weird?  Sure.  But after a minute or two it was just a spa treatment.  Since I left there I am still marveling at how incredibly smooth my skin is. Even those pesky, itchy winter rough patches have vanished. Having the buckets of water poured over me was heavenly. In all of its awkwardness, that body scrub left me with amazing results.

When I was fully scrubbed, she cupped my hand and gave me some Olay face wash, and then instructed me to shower with soap. I complied.

When I returned to the table, I started out face up once again, and she began my massage. She worked my arms, legs, hips, etc. However, the massage also included some acupressure on my hands, head, and feet, and she manipulated my arms and legs to stretch my muscles as well as massage them. When I turned onto my stomach she covered my entire body with steaming hot towels and continued to work in the same fashion. She found each knot in my back and neck and worked until it was completely gone.

The only truly odd part about the massage was when I realized that the therapist was on the table. I was in that nirvana of the middle of a great massage where you're not asleep but you're too relaxed to care even if the building explodes, so I don't think I noticed at first. Is she on the table?  Why would she be on the table?  What is about to happen?  And just as I asked myself the last question she began working my lower back and glutes with her knees. She was a tiny, tiny person, and I'm not going to lie, it felt so good.

I thought the treatment was over, but there was still much more. She asked if I was allergic to cucumber, and then grated one in front of me and covered my entire face with it. Then, she wrapped my hair in a warm towel and my whole face in what seemed like cheesecloth. I thought for a moment that I couldn't handle having my face covered tightly in this way, but once I confirmed that I could see everything and breathe easily through both my mouth and nose, I relaxed again. While my face cucumbered, she pretty much repeated my entire massage with less intensity. It was like a mini-massage now that all of my knots were worked out and muscles were stretched.

She removed the mask, and I was about to thank her when I received one more set of instructions. She needed me to move my head all the way to the end of the table so she could wash my hair. No kidding. If you've known me long you've probably heard me say that if I were independently wealthy I would probably pay someone to come to my house every day just to wash my hair because it is the most relaxing thing I can think of, so this was a fantastic and unexpected treat.

I'm sure you're wondering how much this grand treatment set us back, so I won't keep you in suspense any longer. It was a whopping $85 including tip. I've paid more (twice that perhaps?  I'll never tell because that would just be embarrassing) for mediocre massages in fancy hotels.

I showered again, quickly this time, and put on my pink shirt and shorts uniform and went out into the common area to meet Trey, hoping that his massage was as awesome as mine. Of the two of us, Trey is the more modest, so I was a little concerned about how he viewed the experience.

He looked a little drunk in his gray shirt and shorts uniform, like he'd been sleeping for hours, and he confirmed that his massage, body scrub, and spa were almost identical in their strangeness and amazingness.

The room just outside the mens' and women's spa areas is enormous. The center of the room is lined with plush, cushiony chairs and couches, and people sat here and there reading books, enjoying hot tea, and visiting with one another. Directly to the right is the Korean restaurant located in the spa, and there people ate (there was a dining area with tables and chairs), and placed their orders from the expansive menu written in Korean but with detailed English descriptions of each dish.

Past the restaurant and sitting areas, there is row after row of recliners and ottomans, probably 75 of them. They all face a projection television screen that played one of the bowl games going on that day. Here people watched tv, slept, read, and visited with one another. I assume that this is where you would sleep should you choose to take advantage of the spa's 24-hour services.

There were many unique rooms whose doorways lined the walls. I'm going to answer the question I know you all want to ask - all of these rooms were co-ed and everyone was fully clothed in their uniforms. In each of these rooms you could choose a bamboo mat and sit or lie down for as long as you liked. Here's a list of the rooms (I cheated and used the web site so that I didn't leave anything out):

  • The Fire Sudatorium: made from "living" rocks and kept at such a high temperature that a staff member monitors the entry and exit so that no one stays in there too long. Trey made it about a minute, but I could stand it a little longer.
  • The Pyramid Room: shaped like a pyramid on the inside and coated in gold in order to purify and send healing energy.
  • The Salt Room: made from 350 million year old salt rocks
  • The Ice Room: kept quite cold and meant to lower body temperature and increase circulation
  • The Bul Ga Ma: made with elvan stones that release infrared rays and positive and negative ions. Blocks in the room are heated to 800 degrees.
  • The Charcoal Room: made with yellow soil and natural charcoal and heated
  • The Yellow Soil Crystal Room: made with pure yellow soil and crystal and heated using a yellow soil furnace
  • The Oxygen Room: made from a special wood that releases phytoncide (I think?) so that you can "breathe in the forest"
  • The Aromatherapy Room: with aromatherapy that calms and focuses the mind
  • The Amethyst Room: made with walls of amethyst
  • The Base Rock Room: made with slabs of Siraka rock imported from Japan to enhances metabolism

In addition, the spa has a playroom for children (think play area at McDonalds), a karaoke room, and movie theater that continually shows movies in case you just want to kick back and watch a flick. I was shocked at everything they managed to include in just one facility.

After we met up, Trey and I shared a delicious meal from the restaurant - teryaki chicken, steamed rice, dumplings, miso soup, and tempura vegetables. Then we explored every single room in the place, and then we agreed to spend a little more time in the spa pools area before leaving for home. All in all, I think we spent around six hours there, and if we hadn't had to drive back to College Station I think we could have spent many more.

Several things surprised me about the place. There were clearly families spending the day together there - Asian and non-Asian. Parents and their teenagers, grandparents and their small grandchildren, and people of all races, ages and sizes. As the day progressed, groups of girlfriends came in to relax and hang out, too. Also, the place was immaculate. There were employees constantly cleaning, and I never saw anything less than perfectly tidy.

I know it sounds crazy, and some of you are still wondering what on earth we were thinking and how could we ever be comfortable in a place like this. Some of you, just from my description, probably still think that there's something creepy going on there. But there's not. It's a nice, family, relaxing place. Further, I could have been convinced that I was in another country.

The hippie in me came out a time or two. I wondered what American girls' perceptions of their bodies would be like if places like this were normal. Would we all be so hyper-critical of every sag and wrinkle if we were used to the fact that everyone looks different but ultimately it doesn't matter?  I also really loved that everyone had the same comfy uniform. There were no rolexes or $900 shoes -- everyone was on the same level in their uniforms, and I swear it made people friendlier and more comfortable.

Don't worry. I'm not packing up to move to a commune anytime soon. I did, however, really enjoy my relaxing anniversary adventure, and all for around $210 (two body scrubs, two massages, two admission fees, and lunch).  Trey enjoyed himself, too.

I guess you can already tell that I highly recommend the King Spa, but I also highly recommend being married for 10 years to your best friend who will gladly take random adventures with you. Happy anniversary, Trey!

King Spa and Sauna