Thursday, July 20, 2017

PVD


 I'll admit that we haven't gotten quite as much "summer school" done this week as I had planned.  I affectionately refer to the slump that follows vacation as PVD, post vacation depression.  I just always have a touch of the blues when we come back from a good vacation.  We're back on our routine now, though, and gratefully so. Here are a few random tidbits from our world:

1.  I bought Silas and Asher scooters for the summer. Jude has a skateboard.  The first time I attempted to take all three children to the park "on wheels," I almost sat down on the sidewalk to cry.  Elderly ladies would see us coming from down the street and press themselves against the building walls to protect themselves.  Let's just say, we're still working out our system. Once we actually get to the park, it's wonderful.  We have some work to do though on our navigation of main thoroughfares.



2.  Cars 3.  They've been watching the trailer for 6 months. It was love at first watch.


3.  This summer breeze blows my doors around all day long.  They sell chic door holders here...for 10 euros each. But I just can't bring myself to pay that much for a block of wood that has a cute rope on it. Last night I up-cycled some kids' pillows that a friend passed on to me with a packed bag of salt in the bottom.  Perfectly cute little door guards for the boys' rooms.


4. Put your earbuds in, mommas.  This episode was just the kind of conversation I needed to listen to mid-way through the summer heat with three boys under foot! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Andorra, Part 2

The bags are still spilling out clothes and boots.  But we're home.

This was one of the most refreshing weeks I've experienced in a while.  I won't say restful.  We made two trips to the doctor. (Tonsilitis for David and the old wheezing cough for Asher....that's family life, right:) We hiked hard.  But it was refreshing.

My favorite hike was the day that we realized about an hour into our path that the little guys just weren't going to make it up the mountain that day.  So David took Silas and Asher back down the mountain while Jude and I pressed on.  It was tough going, but we made it to the Cabana Sorda Lake. We caught tadpoles in the puddles, waded in the freezing water and watched the guys who were cliff diving.  Cabana Sorda,known for it's depth (18 meters), is one of the best places to jump off rocky ledges into clear icy water.  Jude is my little introvert, so the one-on-one hike meant a lot to him.  Watching him absorb that kind of stunning natural beauty was such a gift to me.

When we met back up at the trail head at the appointed time, David took off to trail run up to the highest lake in Andorra. The sun doesn't set until 10pm, so we picked him up from the trail head again just before bedtime.

Let's just say, we came back a little sorer and stronger than we went.












Farewell, Andorra!!! You were better than we hoped! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Andorra, Part 1


We are on vacation this week.  No meetings attached.  No work to attend.  On a whim, a couple of months ago, I found a screamin' deal at a mountain ski resort.  On Monday, we drove into the Pyrenees mountains of Andorra. Summers are a little slow in a ski town.  But we like slow. We're looking for slow.  It's been amazing. The stillness is exactly what we wanted.

We're hiking.  That's it.  There's no other agenda.  The restaurants aren't even open near our rental.  It's that slow. Here's a little peek at the beauty.













Friday, July 7, 2017

a friend

You may or may not remember that season I had in our South Asian life when loneliness was a word I thought about every day.  I was knee deep in language learning and motherhood was breaking me in hard. I spent a lot of time in that year praying for deep friendships, and making efforts to seek them out.  I needed community and I knew it. 

One Saturday morning, we went to a hotel in the city for an ex-pat brunch. In all our time overseas, I've only been to such events a few times.  I went that morning a bit out of desperation to find new friendships.  I'd heard it was a good place to meet people. I met a girl who'd recently moved to the city for her husband's job in the tech industry of our city.  We chatted for a bit. 

Later that week, I sent her a quick message asking if she'd want to meet up for a playdate. We did.  

From that simple start,  we had playdates almost every Monday until she moved back to the US. This sister and I have shed plenty of momma tears together and told plenty of culture stress stories over tea and cookies.  I can't tell you how much I looked forward to those afternoons of same-culture/same-age boys.  It was one of the many ways that I saw God answer those tearful prayers for community.  


The details are fuzzy, but it was somewhere around 5 years ago now.  We've both long since left those  dusty, bumpy roads we first traveled to get to one another's houses. This week, Sara and her family have been vacationing in Barcelona.  The boys haven't seen each other in several years.  But they just picked up where we left off.  It's been so sweet to watch. 

And as for the mommas, the seasons are different, but there's still plenty to shed tears and laughter over...this time we are just doing it over gelato. 

Here are a few pictures of the fun. 

Love you, Sara.  You were (and are) an answer to prayer.  









Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Helsinki, Finland


Here are a few pictures of our morning in Helsinki, Finland.  In spite of all that travel drama, we had to look at one another and say, "What are the chances that we'll ever get a day in Finland again any time soon?" So, off we went!

We took the train into the city early that morning and started out in Senate Square.  Behind the square is the famed Helsinki Cathedral.  Just a few blocks away, is Market Square where you can catch a city water bus out to Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.  From the boat, you get a great view of the Helsinki Skywheel and the Allas Sea Pool...where you can undoubtedly get a few minutes in a sauna if you wish.  Our (limited) impression of Finnish people is that they love the forest, they drink blueberry juice and eat berries from those forests, swim in the 188,000 lakes in those forests, and that they really get into their saunas. One lady told us that even apartments have their own saunas...it's essential to Finnish living.  We found it to be a beautiful and fascinating place.

Helsinki was pretty modern, and very interesting, but the charm of Finland seems to lie in the land itself.  If we ever go on a (planned:) trip there, we'd definitely want to go into the countryside more.  Forests and blueberry juice? What could be better!?










Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is a twenty minute boat ride from Market Square.  Originally founded in 1748, it was used as a military base by Sweden, Russia and Finland at different points in the country's history.  It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.  As is usually the case with UNESCO, there's a good reason for the preservation.  It's a fascinating island, and absolutely breathtaking. We could have spent days exploring the museums and coast line!









We headed back to the airport, through the city.  I regret to inform you that we did stop at McDonald's on the way back.  (Though David and I grabbed sandwiches from a deli.) We'll have to save culinary exploration for another day.  Somehow, the kids just weren't up for sitting down to a big Finnish meal:)


Farewell, Finland! You were such a beautiful surprise!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Long Trip Home

Hello, again. We're back.  The laundry is almost folded.  Jet lag has been reduced to afternoon naps.  Our attitudes haven't quite caught up, but when you hear this story, I think you'll understand.

You know I try to keep it real around here.  I'm about to post some pretty spectacular photos of our day in Helsinki, Finland.  (Don't ask why on earth we flew through Finland to get to South Asia.  Cheap tickets don't always make sense.)  Let me pre-assuage any thoughts you might have of our perfect little life.  Sometimes I write days like this just so I won't forget when I'm old and nostalgic. 

To set the stage, we'd been in meetings for a week, after seriously jet lagging to get there.  Jude threw up no less than 6x en route to the conference...because we travel really well.  (Exhaustion + motion = vomit.)  Our kids had been in classes from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon on most days, and we were all pretty tired. 

 We boarded a bus on Tuesday at mid-day for a three hour ride back to the airport.  Our flight wasn't until the next morning, so we stayed at a $40-a-night hotel nearby that was actually surprisingly clean.  Jude and I fell asleep holding one another, slouched down in the bed away from the wall.  There was a gecko loose in the room.  David was already asleep with the other boys in another room, and I was too chicken to catch that slimy thing. 



We left on the 6am shuttle to the airport, only to find that our flight had been delayed an hour and a half.  By the time we flew away, we'd been sitting in the plane for another thirty minutes while they fixed a mechanical problem.  Hello, 10 hour flight.  

Thanks to excellent parenting skills, i.e. "hey kids, watch all the movies you want...as long as they are in the kid's section," things went fairly smoothly for the first 8 hours.  Until sleep deprivation and airplane delirium set in.  It's hazy now, but the highlight was when Silas told me he felt nauseous.  I gave him one of those handy bags, which he held for a while.  Then he buried his head in my lap, presumably to go to sleep.  

Friends.  He did not go to sleep.  

He threw up in my lap. On an airplane.  (And you know I did not have spare clothing.) 

This was the beginning of a steep decline.  More vomit ensued.  Delirium increased.  We made it off the plane, after being informed that due to the delay, we'd missed our connecting flight.  The next flight out to Barcelona was in 24 hours.  

To give the airline credit, they were actually amazingly helpful.  Dinner, breakfast and a nice hotel room followed.  David almost lost a limb trying to get all of our luggage into the airport van.  Seriously, we had to blockade the door to keep the driver from leaving him.  The kids passed out as soon as we fed them.  Actually, they really were laying on the floor every time we paused at this point.  

The next morning, the kid's attitudes were a little tainted...but David and I were completely excited to see Finland.  And so we did. We rolled those kids out of the hotel by 8:30am and began the exploration.  It was stunning. If I had to trade all the vomit, attitudes and delays for those 5 hours, I wouldn't.  It was totally worth it.  What a gorgeous country! 

By the time we got back to the airport that afternoon for our flight, it was around 1am in the country we'd just departed.  We had another vomiting episode on the plane.  Then another.  Asher was completely undone and screamed uncontrollably during landing.  I must say, in times like these, how glad I am that I married such a friend.  At the worst moments, David and I would look at each other and burst into laughter.  Laughter is such a friend in parenting, isn't it?  It was completely ridiculous.  

By the time we reached Barcelona, we were done. 


And ya'll.  We walked out with 150lbs of luggage to discover that every taxi in the city had gone on a 24 hour strike.  It was 9:30pm at night and our options were to call friends to get us, and wait an hour while they drove out, or to jump on the city train with all those kids and bags.  


I still am not sure how we made it on.  David is like a pack mule in these scenarios.  He literally carried us home. 

We had to change trains half way through.  And when we popped out it our stop, of course, there's no elevator.  Hubs carried it all up. We traipsed across six lanes of traffic, and down two blocks to our apartment....with 3 large bags, 5 carry ons, and a stroller.  

Asher slept so hard through it all that I kept checking his breathing.  Silas laid down prostrate any time we halted motion. He was, by this point, wearing David's spare boxer shorts - held up by a pony tail holder - because he lost his shorts to a round of vomit.  And by the time we reached our house, Jude was crying and telling me his chest hurt.  I was beginning to wonder if it's possible for a 7-year-old to have a panic attack?  It took us roughly three days to get home from the conference. 


You know what I had prayed as we began our journey back? I remember asking that the Father would make Barcelona feel like home to me now.  This has been a year of putting down little roots, but the sorrow of leaving South Asia has still been part of me. 

I can confidently say, I can hardly remember a time when I felt so glad to be home. Distance (and trial:) make the heart grow fonder. 

We're home again.  And very glad to be here.