Tuesday, February 28, 2017

when it rains

It's pouring over here.

This past weekend I spent sixteen hours in a driving course.  My international license is only valid for our first six months in country. I'll spend another sixteen hours this weekend, followed by two weeks of furious studying.  All in hopes that I can actually pass the written driving exam. Hubs just competed his thirty minute long road driving evaluation yesterday. Thankfully, he passed.  The process in total to get his license has been well over two months long. The guy in the car with him missed a stop sign and failed within five minutes.  Let's just say it's a little high stress to run the driver-license-gauntlet here.

We are starting the most irregular tense in language school this week and I'm now in class with two French speaking ladies and a German.  This means our hours in class increase and our homework outside of class too.  But we're plugging along, and I am getting better.  I can actually talk about events in the past and present now.  That's a big game changer in conversation!

Keep those two big factors in mind when I describe our last 36 hours.  I feel like I'm in Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day.  And the humor of it is not at all lost on me.

Sunday night as I was combing Jude's hair, I noticed a few specks. Lice.  He has head lice.  We got a note from the school two weeks ago that it's going around. I checked then and all was well.  But then there was crazy hat day at school for carnival.  Welcome home, hair friends.

Monday morning David left at 5am to practice for his 9am driving test.  I got up to finish Spanish homework, just in case I could make it to class. At 6:30am, Asher crawled in bed with me so I could tell him Happy 2nd Birthday.

By 7am, Silas was awake and in tears.  His tonsils were so swollen they looked like they were going to fall out of his throat.  By 9:30 we had scheduled a doctors appointment and lice shampoo from the pharmacy. By 11am, David had passed his exam, Jude was soaking in the bath, and hubs was taking Silas to the doctor.

Needless to write, I didn't make it to class.  The couch pillows, the sheets, all the pajamas, and plenty of stuffed animals were cycling through the wash because we really don't like lice. (I don't have a dryer, so it's slow and steady.) By afternoon, David was back to class and we had a prescription for strep throat.

We managed to squeeze in a trip to the store to get frozen pizza and a Paw Patrol cake for the birthday boy, who was happily oblivious to it all. He was all birthdayed up and the sheets were returned to the beds for a good night of sleep.

Until 11:30pm, when Silas woke up with a reaction to the antibiotics. Hello, red rash, itching arms and feet.  Good bye, good night's sleep.

This morning we rolled it all out again.  New prescription, lice-free kid back to school, return to language class.

The laundry is, of course, still drying.

Sometimes when it rains, it pours.

This is one of those weeks for us.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Asher celebrated T-W-O today.  In the true fashion of third-borns, his day was a little overshadowed by some family-craziness.  I'll write more on that tomorrow.  We bought a cake at the super market though, heated up a frozen pizza, and called it a party.  The low-key didn't stop us from savoring his sweetness, loving his morning cuddles, and experiencing enough strong will to be assured that he's developing right on schedule.  I can't imagine life without this little guy.  

Asher, we love you so! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

carnival and catalan

This is the week of Carnival.  I wish I could spell it the way they say it.

The kids have crazy-dress all week at school. Today was tie-day.  Dad tied them up this morn.  Tomorrow there is a parade around the block.  Apparently they crafted costumes at school.  Silas is one of the Patrulla Canina (Paw Patrol) and Jude is a panther.  Asher and I will be waiting for the excitement on the streets.

Silas is having a little break through this week.

He sang the Catalan alphabet at dinner last night.  I almost cried.  It was so sweet, and his accent was perfect.

Then his teacher pulled me aside today at pick up and told me that this week she's heard him speak to his classmates several times in Catalan.

Sigh. Relief.  In my more dramatic moments, I thought he might be fourteen and still convinced that everyone really does speak English.

The road is still long.  But this is big. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017


I wouldn't call myself an impulse buyer at all.  But the sales right now are seriously out of control.

Apparently, my resistance is down.

I went into my favorite spanish brand, Zara, for new cabinet knobs.  (Because they were an unbelievable 1 euro per set.)

And I walked out with this little gem at 70% off. (The seat, not the kid. He's full price these days.)

Not a necessity by any means, but oh-the-cuteness. 

Monday, February 20, 2017


I had the best ice cream of my life.  I'm not exaggerating.  The family that runs this place also has a Michelin star restaurant.  It was an unbelievable 4 euros. 

I worked it all off on Saturday with a hike up Tibidabo, the hill behind Barcelona.  They have a fantastic set of slides at the top, it's like a destination hike for the kids.  

We're back in the saddle now.  

I'm finally living in future tense in Spanish.  That's progress, right?! 

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Can't you just feel the brother love over here? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Briefing

I've mentioned this podcast before. And if you've conversed with me for any length of time in the past few years, I've likely referenced Al Mohler's work at The Briefing.  Lately, with politics swirling in the air and the massive cultural shift that seems to be taking place overnight, I have found it particularly helpful.

I know that it can be an effort to put one more voice into your world, and that the years of young motherhood aren't exactly the easiest season to be engaged in the political and cultural battles at hand.

Here are three short reasons why I really think young moms, in particular, should be tuning into Al Mohler's The Briefing:

1. Cultural and moral analysis of the world from a Christian perspective fits us to train our children for the battles of the next generation.  To teach my children to think like a Christian, I need to exercise that myself, daily.  I find Mohler particularly helpful in this. I need to be engaging in the underlying world views at work long before my boys are hit by the onslaught of them when they reach their teens.

2. While giving insight, history and facts that are helpful in responding intelligently to the daily news, Mohler helps me keep the end of the story in mind.  This is hugely helpful for me in mothering.  The end of the story is not a world that falls apart.  It's a Savior who rescues and reigns. 
3.  It reminds me that I need to raise warriors.  Growing up in the South in a private school and large church community was a gift.  But I wouldn't say it particularly fitted me for a world where many of Christ's followers are persecuted.  I think our children will meet a different world, even if they stay in the same hometown in the same community.  The way I teach my children about the gospel and the world ought to be shaped by that reality.

There it is.  I kept meaning to tell you just one more time that you should listen. I hope you will.

Link up here. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

San Valentino

I tried really hard to keep up my tradition of a little Valentine card for the blog.  But the only moment I had for the photo shoot was just before nap time.  Pretty classic, huh?

Thankfully, the rest of the day was really a lot sweeter than those five minutes of attitude.

And at the end of the day, the boys obliged me with an annual photo just so I'd have one for the progression.

Monday, February 13, 2017

La Palau

After a hectic week with David at a conference, and a full Saturday with a supervisor in town, we had a little excitement in the school-world. Jude sang in a concert with his school and the music conservatory on Saturday night at the Palau de la Musica Catalana.  It was a children's "opera" about the butterfly, and he sang it all in Catalan! Proud mom!   

The music hall itself is truly one of the most beautiful and fantastical I've ever seen.  Pictures can't do it justice! I have a few more on my "real" camera, but since it's Monday morning and language is calling my name, we'll make do with my phone shots for now.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Snow Day

This weekend we decided to make a trek into the Pyrenees before Spring melts the slopes.  My friend told me earlier this week that they took their 1-year-old and three-year-old with them, and they napped on a sled while the older child went skiing.  She sent me a picture of this miracle to prove it.

I thought that sounded very nice. I had a glimmer of hope.

Our day was not so picturesque, though. Truthfully, I was prepared for this and lugged that babe up the mountain nonetheless, boots, waterproof pants, gloves and all anyways.

Asher threw a fit when we put his snow boots on him. He faked a little smile for a couple of minutes while we convinced him we were going to have so much fun. We did find a pretty sweet igloo.  That brought us about 5 minutes of genuine fun.  But his mittens got a little wet in the process.

Prepare for meltdown.

After 20 minutes, he started screaming at the top of his lungs and didn't stop until I lugged him back up the mountain, stripped his gear off and put him in the cozy car.  We sat in the car, his hysterics turning to whimpers, and waited while the older boys went sledding.  He fussed a lot of the way home, letting us all know he it wasn't his style to play in snow and then fell asleep 10 minutes before we go to our flat.  Yep.

Pipe in here, friends.  Nurture or nature?

All in all though, it was completely worth it to see those beautiful mountains covered in snow. In future,  Asher and I may stay home for a year or two more since we've not proven to be of the sturdiest character in snow, but the older boys loved it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


My best bargain discovery thus far is most definitely the Euro Market.  They take over a nightclub by day once a month for a thrifting extravaganza.  It's loud and pushy and crowded and this weekend they were blaring "Highway to Hell." But it's oh-so-worth-it.  Every item is just one little euro.  After just two hits, I've acquired a booming winter wardrobe.  This time I took a suitcase.  And I filled it all the way up.  

Two of my top finds this month: 

Hello, yellow ruffled cardigan. Thank you for hiding my new European baguette-belly.  

This little gem is a perfect fit for Asher's cozy bedroom.  

As soon as spring hits, I'll be back! 

Monday, February 6, 2017

A time to plant

We are quickly closing in on five months of life in Spain.  We moved into our apartment four months ago this week.  The dust has settled.  Our routine is firm.  The house is comfortable and I finally organized my jewelry drawer.  That's a sure sign of establishment.  The long term goals are beginning to come into focus more than short term survival reactions.  My emotions over this change are leveling out and I feel like I'm lifting my head after a long trek entirely uphill.

These months have felt like that point you reach on a hike up a sturdy mountain, when you have to put your head down and will your feet to keep pacing one tiny step at a time.  Time drags on and you wonder if you'll make it through. At that point though, there's really no other option other than to keep going.  (Unless, of course, you want to call for an air-lift.) Turning back would be worse than pushing through.  And you remind yourself over and over again that there's a reason you like to hike.  The peak is always worth the pain.

This, however, seems to be one of those hidden mountains.  The kind you always think you're just about to conquer, only to reach a look out and find that you have hours more to go on the climb.

I don't have trouble any more maintaining my laundry load without a dryer. My cooking skills are growing and the meals are more creative.  I can go into a store and ask for something without serious anxiety.  I know where to find craft supplies and light bulbs.  I even ride the bus now, right?

But the work isn't over. It's just begun.

The deeper you get into a language, the more you realize it would take you a lifetime to speak like a native.  It's nuanced and complex, and you're diagramming sentences that a five-year-old would say.  Beyond that, we're entering into cultures within cultures.  Culture.  It touches almost every part of who we are. The layers are thick and we hardly know how to proceed at times. It took us ten minutes this morning to construct a simple text message refusing a party invitation.  And even still, we might have given offense.

Lately, the longevity of this move has been settling in. While heartily acknowledging that only God knows the future, we hope this will be our longest stop yet. We are settling in.  And while I generally prefer quick projects that I can cap and move on from, investing here means long work.

This is no day hike.  It's not even an overnight mountain trek. We're talking about the Appalachian trail. I need to plod through past preterite tense and complex culture.  I need to fail in local friendships and try again.  And then I might have to fail again before I get it right.  This is a time to plant. Slow, steady labor that will probably never be tied up neatly and put in a stack labeled "done."  It's time to plant a garden.  To dig into the dirt and do things that might not spring up for years.

 I realized as I wrote this, that in late June my thoughts were very much on how it was a time to uproot.  (You can take the farmer's daughter away from the farm, but you'll never get the farmer out of her:) Seasons mark the earth and they very often mark our lives.

Spring follows winter.  Soon, the snow will lift in, the winter wind will cease and the earth will grow green again.  Seasons change.  And now, it is a time to plant.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Quote of the Day

Silas usually speaks very fondly of our days in South Asia. He talks about his friends often and seems to miss them genuinely.  Tonight though, he reflected on how gently Spaniards behave, and that he's never even cheek-pinched these days.  He pinched his own cheeks for effect and said with a very serious face, "It was a tough life for me there, Mom." 

And so it was.  

Asher, never to be outdone, apparently feels just the same.