Thursday, August 17, 2017

The attack on the Ramblas

The words of Christ, the peace of his promises and the unshakable love that he both offers and bestows in us -- are our hope.  Sure and steadfast, firm and unmoving.

We live about a mile from where the Ramblas attack happened this afternoon, the sirens are still wailing past our house. We walk those streets.  

To be honest, we moved to this city knowing that this day would very likely come.  And that we could be walking the streets when it did.  Almost every time I am in a crowd with my children, I consider the possibility.  Today, it happened.  We were in a museum looking at dinosaurs with my mom, who flew in yesterday. In God's mercy, we are safe.  

Many were not.  

Pray for the peace of Christ to break into this darkness.  And remember with us that we already know the end of the story.  Evil does not win. Cowards will not reign.  

The God of Justice and Might sent a Rescuer.  He wins. And all eternity is in His care. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

the unity shirt

Sometimes you just have to enjoy the little things in parenting.  Like when you're dealing with mid-summer sibling squabbles, and the best way to squelch them turns out to be a bit of humor, as opposed to a lecture.

I've turned to the "unity shirt" this summer.

No, it wasn't my idea.

But I laughed out loud when I saw a picture of someone else's kids stuffed into a shirt.  So it began.  My boys hate it, but in a hilarious, giggling under their breath way that refreshes those attitudes that have run amok. I usually require them to do a task together such as build a block tower.

Occasionally, I require them to stand together and sing that old Baptist chorus, "We are one in the bond of love." It cracks me up every time.

Perks of parenting. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Happy Hollisters

While all the cute first-day-of-school pictures pop up from the US, we are still in the throes of summer.  We're barely even feeling bored yet. I know that mid-September will creep up on us though.

Currently, Jude is completely enthralled with The Happy Hollisters series.  His face is glued to the pages.  I actually have to make him put it down to eat.  Isn't it amazing that a book written in 1953 can still evoke that in a little boy in 2017?

Tonight, hopes are running high in our house.  I said "maybe" to the picking out of a matchbox car at the big department store near the Plaza.  If this momma can get up the courage to take all three boys down to the tourist district in mid-August.  It's wild down there, ya'll.

Summer, summer.

Carry on with your back to school pictures.  We're still watching cartoons over here.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

city bikes

Did you know that Barcelona ranks in the top 20 most bike-friendly cities in the world? People really do bike almost everywhere here. It's a city goal.  A lot of people have these crazy fold-up bikes that they take right into their office with them. Even the traffic laws are aligned so that it's legal for you to get pretty much anywhere by bike.  There's a city bike service with bike pick up points that tons of locals use. You buy a card for the year and have access to bike pick ups all over the place.  This week, our card came.  Most of David's work is within a couple miles of our house, so for him, this will probably be a major mode of transport now.

Usually, I have a kid or three with me, so I doubt I'll be on a bike too often, but today I went for a ride down to Plaza Catalunya.  I could be wrong, but I think it's been somewhere around 5 years since I rode a bike. I had to get up my courage in an alley way before I hit the streets.  (Don't worry, I stayed within the guarded bike lanes.)  It was soooO fun.  

Here's to a little more time for city exploration this summer! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Parc de Laberint d'Horta

If there's one thing that I've learned after seven years of mothering little boys, it's this: if you don't run them, they're gonna run you. Tuck that bit of wisdom away for all the lads in your life.

This week, with four boys seven and under in the house, basically, the entire goal has been to expend energy. As much energy as possible.  

We were going to make them climb a mountain today.  Seemed like a really good plan. But the car had a flat, so we made needed to make a last minute change of plans that could be carried out via Metro.  I've been wanting to trek up to this labyrinth since I first heard about it. It was a huge hit! They just ran around shouting at each other and getting lost and found and lost again.

By the time we got home, they settled in for quiet time with no complaints and remained perfectly docile for most of the afternoon. 

And now, it's scooter riding until dinner.  

P.S. Asher has a bad case of heat rash, hence his shirtless state.  Don't judge;) 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tuesday Tid-bits

1. Let's start with the caramel cake.  I've made it on three continents now. And it's a sure win everywhere. 

2. Tid-bit number two is that we are keeping someone's seven-year-old for a couple nights this week.  Of course, it's a boy.  I am surrounded.  Completely outnumbered.  It's my fate in life.

3. We visited the Natural Science museum this week (because they have a/c:) and the boys were enthralled.  Favorite moment was when they looked at the animals of the Amazon and hubs started telling him stories from his years in Peru.  They were enthralled.

4. While we were debating on whether or not it would be a good use of money to put in an air conditioner to help us survive the summer, our landlord offered to buy one and have it installed to upgrade the apartment.  Who does that?!

When I see her next, I will kiss her (because actually, I kiss a lot of people here...on the cheek:) and tell her she has contributed to my survival in the Spanish climate.  It's only in the living room so we're still sleeping in hot rooms. You don't want to be in my path when I wake up.  But it makes all the difference in the world to be able to come in from outside and get a cool breeze going. Thankful!

Happy Tuesday to you!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Turning a corner

I call architecture, frozen music.  - Goethe

Friday, July 28, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Eye of the Tiger


When the Eye of the Tiger comes on the radio, friends, it' a moment for these two.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Round Three & Fancy Dress

It's that time around here.  Round three of potty training.  A note to self, the purchase of scooters and the onset of potty training should have probably been spaced with a bit more distance to reduce mom-stress. It's been seriously exciting around here this week.  

We are making significant progress in our scooter etiquette, and far fewer people are jumping out of our path on the sidewalks.  As has always been the case in our household, M & Ms serve as great motivators in our potty training progress.  

Hubs took me out for a fancy dinner last night.  I snagged a "new" dress at that 1Euro market I love so much, so we dressed fancy.  We literally walked across the street to a restaurant we've been wanting to try since we arrived.  It was delicious! I'm still getting used to all the seafood on the beach-town menu, but I'm branching out.  I even considered ordering octopus last night...but went for the salmon instead.  It did not disappoint.  Nor did the company.  

Happy Tuesday to you! 

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Seashore Book

  Spending our first summer in a beach town has definitely been a new experience for us.  We actually have to plan time to enjoy the shoreline.  Otherwise, we'd never make it that mile toward the shore.  For those of you who are headed to the beach this summer, I just wanted to give a quick recommendation for this little jewel.

We're half way through, and the boys love the characterization of different animals that Thornton Burgess weaves so wonderfully in his stories.  As I've written before, I do think Burgess is a bit of an acquired taste in reading aloud, but he's worth acquiring a taste for.  The Burgess Seashore Book for Children is one of our top picks for beach living this year.

Give it a try! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017


 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