Friday, April 28, 2017


A few months ago I got an email inviting me to attend a little retreat in Croatia.  I had to look the country up on a map.  When I flew into the city of Dubrovnik, I had no idea what I was entering.  I started out my year thirty-seven with an almost indescribable view, quiet times on a rocky sea shore every morning, some truly refreshing fellowship and singing, and a lot of digging in deeper to God's way forward for me in this season. 

One afternoon, I walked the fortress wall that encircles the old town.  It basically held back the Ottoman Empire.  What a gem.  One of the most fascinating walks I've ever taken.  As you can tell, I couldn't get enough pictures of this place. 

This week will go down in my book as one of the tenderest gifts from Jesus - the Lover of my soul.  Who, even after all these years together, continues to draw me to Himself with cords of kindness.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Thirty-seven sure snuck up on me. I'm rolling toward 4-0, friends.  

Check out those candelabra candles!? The boys put on a Sant Jordi play for me...I was the princess, and they rescued me. 

My dad called to tell me that my tulips bloomed.  I know, I tell you about this every year but it's my favorite birthday tradition to check on those flowers.  My mom planted tulip bulbs at our farm house the year I was due.  They bloomed the spring I was 1980.  And those same bulbs have bloomed every year since then. 

I like to think about my parents back then. They were so young in a spring time of life.  Time has flown away from all of us.  But thirty-seven years later, what was planted is still blooming.  It feels almost miraculous the way sowing works. 

This is a season of sowing in my own little life...and it helps me to look forward with hope that some of these seeds, however small they seem,  will bloom for long years ahead.  

Thirty-seven years of abundant faithfulness from the God who gives life. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sant Jordi

Yesterday was the festival of Sant Jordi in Catalunya.  We've heard about this day for months.  It's everyone's favorite holiday and the streets were a flood of people, books and roses.

 Friends, it makes Valentine's Day look lame.  It was such a fun day! Ladies buy men books, and men buy ladies roses.  I heard an estimate that there were 6 million roses sold today, and over a million books.  They even transformed the balconies of Gaudi's Casa Batllo with roses.

The myth, that grew from Catalunya's patron Saint George, is a story of a knight who rescues a princess from a wicked dragon.  And where the blood fell, there sprang a rose bush. The books, it would appear, worked their way into the tradition as a result of Shakespeare and Cervantes, who both died on April 23.  Here's a picture of my little knight, ready to go to school on Friday.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Today at lunch, I turned on our gas stove to make a grilled cheese.  I didn't notice that the baguette I'd laid on the counter was dangerously close to the flame, still wrapped in a thin paper wrapper.  The paper went up in flames.  And I stood staring at it...just screaming.

Thankfully, hubs, ever the reasonable one in the family, was nearby. He did the obvious. He turned on the water faucet, and put out the flame.  He even did it so rationally as to save the baguette. I stood, still in hysteria, watching.

Silas was sitting at the table eating.  David then proceeded to give a little illustrated lesson to him.  He filled a cup of water, as if to remind him of how flames die, and asked, "Buddy, what should we do when something catches on fire?"

Silas responded, "We should scream, Dad. We should screeeeeeaam for help."

And so it would seem that I am, by my fine example, infusing my little ones with the gift of hysteria rather than reason.

Mom points, right? 

Easter Pictures 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Grammar & Pop Meet Spain

I didn't mean to take such a long pause on this little blog! The boys were out of school all last week though and we had some special visitors.  Prepare for a picture-filled post.

Grammar and Pop flew to town and we got to show them around our new home.  The boys had so much fun.  They ate up all that grandparent attention.  (And a good bit of Easter candy too!)    They are back home safely now and the first thing Jude said when he walked out of school yesterday was, "I sure do miss Grammar and Pop!"

It was seriously such a sweet week.  Sometimes I think that because we do live so far away, it's easier to enjoy time together when we have it.  The distance makes sure we know what a precious gift it is. Here are a few pictures of our days together.

We miss you already!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Easter Egg Hunt

It's Spring Break this week. The tourist are starting to pour into the city.  We're pulling our our short sleeves and doing some much needed spring cleaning.  Jude is taking his achievement tests online.  Today, I found him in distress over decimal numbers.  He just did not want to click the "I don't know" button.  

That school day routine is like an anchor for us.  

We're kind of floating around in it's absence. There's plenty of excitement on the horizon though.  Stay tuned for pictures later this week:) 

Here's a peek at our Saturday afternoon egg hunt with the international church. It was outside the city in a beautiful hillside village.  The boys had so much fun! 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Reading to Boys

When we were just coming into longer stories, a year or so ago, the boys and I listened to Narnia in the car on the way to and from school.  They were entranced.  We would get into the car and they would immediately ask for me to turn it on.  At the end of that little read aloud experience, I decided to introduce them to one of my childhood favorites, Anne of Green Gables.  I definitely wasn't naive enough to think that they would love it as much as the swords of the narnian world, but I wasn't quite prepared for their response.

Within ten minutes, they were begging me to turn it off. It became apparently to them very quickly that there would be no swords or giants at Green Gables.  They said they'd rather have music.  They told me they'd rather just have silence.

Laurin asked me a question a few weeks ago about this, and I just thought I'd respond here for the other boy mamas listening.  Particularly for the mommas who had girls first and then find themselves in the world of constantly bouncing balls and wrestling, I think we have to really be intentional about reading longer books to them. Boys don't look like they want stories.  But they usually do...they just listen differently.  While it often looks like they're not listening, my experience is, they are.

To start with, I have learned that we will all get much further in books and be much more cheerful about it, if I sacrifice what I think they should like or want to listen to, for their actual taste at a particular age. This means, I am still plodding through Thornton Burgess's animal series, because they absolutely love it.  I usually look at lists specifically written for boys when I pick out read alouds.  Because, while this might not be true for every little person, my boys are pretty classically sword and dragon lovers.

I think Jude could make it through Anne of Green Gables now and actually enjoy it.  But it's probably not going to be his childhood favorite and I need to embrace that.  He just read the Little House series and loved it. They grow into books and out of books and then maybe back into them. When you're reading aloud to little boys, my advice is not to be afraid to put something down after a night or two and make another choice if there's not a lot of interest.

One of the reasons it's important for them to actually be pulled along by the book, is because I find that it produces external motivation for me.  If I'm super tired and the kitchen is still a mess but they are just dying to hear what happens next, I'm more likely to take an extra 10 minutes to read to them. (Even better, if I'm also dying to know what happens next.)

On the "whens," we do occasionally read during the day time, while they play with blocks or legos.  I hope this time will increase when we're out of school this summer. The better part of our read aloud investment, though, is right before bed. We have a bed time snack at 7:30pm in their room, usually apples or something fairly neat. Generally, this is David's 15 minutes to read while they snack and play with their toys or get their pajamas on.  Currently, they are reading My Father's Dragon. I won't deny wildness during this time. It is wild. Then, after the teeth are brushed, the kitchen is fairly clean, and Asher is in his bed, I climb into his bed and read to Silas for another 10 minutes or so.  Usually, just a chapter but it's become the sweetest little ritual.  He won't let me forget about it.

It's surprising how quickly you can move through a chapter book if you do this every night.

And as for motivation, the research astounds me when it comes to the benefits of reading aloud.  It's like a wonder drug in childhood for all sorts of good things. If you want to hear some facts that will blow your mind, listen to this podcast The Research behind Reading Aloud with Dr. Joseph Price.  Or pick up the book my brother-in-law gave me this summer entitled The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  I think you'll be convinced!

Read on with those wild little men!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday Miscellany

1. April showers ushered in the month for us this weekend.  After a cozy day indoors, we headed to McDonald's at the beach on Saturday night.  The rain cleared and my climbers just kept on climbing. It's always crazy to me that this is literally a 15 minute drive from our house, but for weeks on end, we will not even glimpse the ocean.  The truth is, two miles on crowded city roads, feels a lot further. There's a saying that "Barcelonians live with their backs to the beach." Guess we're turning local.   Maybe this summer will be different! 

2. Silas's teacher pulled me aside at pick up today.  There was a kerfuffle at school because he continues to ask his friends for toys by saying "peeeaaase." (We have a little trouble with "l"s yet.) This, apparently, sounds very similar to the crude way of saying "to pee" to little Catalan ears.  His friend insisted he keeps saying a bad word. When Silas's teacher tried to instruct him in saying "plau" instead, so everyone would understand his "please," he refused.  Tears, crying.  No "plau" gonna come from his mouth.  Sigh.  We have some linguistic work to do, friends. 

4. They have cream cheese here.  Friends, they have every kind of cheese here.  It's too wonderful for me to express.  I made my first cheese cake this weekend.  Delight. It was a delight. 

5. Ladies, if you have little men, you probably already know this secret.  We have a continual battle over crazy hair in the morning.  There's a lot of stubborn Dawkins thickness going on in those heads of hair.  I can never get it to flatten out...without practically pouring a bucket on their heads.  This is always dramatic for us.

I bought a spray bottle.  The kind they use at their hair dresser.

The boys love it. They will spray themselves.  The hair flattens. (Ok. As much as it will flatten.) And no one starts crying or shaking their head like a puppy.

It took me six years to come up with this solution. I figured I should share it.

Happy Monday to you!