Thursday, November 30, 2017

Start your engines

My license finally arrived.  The culmination of nine months of work and waiting.  I'm legal.

Kind of.

My last name is misspelled.  Apparently, a typist knew just enough english to get her in trouble.  They changed my last name to a verb.


If you ever need to go dawking, I can go with you.

Nonetheless, while the error is rectified, I have a license with my picture and signature on it. Hubs gave me a break from the toddler life yesterday for a couple of hours.  I've been too nervous to get in the car with the kids as yet. I promptly buckled myself in and sat there wondering why I felt so nervous.

I had to have a little talk with myself.

For the past 4 months, every time I've gotten in a car, I have been criticized about everything from the way I turn the steering wheel to the speed with which I shift gears.  This was to help me pass a picky exam.  But now, there's no examiner in my car.  I won't get my license revoked if I turn the wheel with one hand over the other.  I passed. It's done. Freeeeeedom.  

So I turned up the radio, and headed for the beach.

And as I did all those crazy roundabouts and intersections I was really glad I've had so much practice with that instructor.

Let me just note also  that I love the beach in winter.  It's so solitary and rugged.  The waves feel like they are crashing just to say how mighty God is. As if His majesty could just swallow up your smallness.

I drove back into the city refreshed, and really grateful that Asher and I can spend a morning now and then away from the hum of traffic.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

Before we move on to the inevitable Peanut Butter Balls, I wanted to post a few of my favorite finds this Thanksgiving.  I had some wins, and a few fails too.  I attempted to make crock pot mashed potatoes. I soaked the potatoes overnight, because I thought that if I stayed under the 12 hour rule, all would be well.  I felt so ahead of the game that morning.

I was wrong.

Two hours before our big get together with the American crew on Saturday, I checked on those potatoes and found they'd become rock hard.  Fail. Off to the store hubs went, and we started all over.  I'm assuming it was the variety of potato I bought combined with the overnight soak. Lesson learned.

In an attempt to stretch my skills a bit, I tried a Pioneer Woman variation of Green Bean Casserole this year.  After I finished that mushroom rue, I felt like I'd run the gauntlet...and won. You can find this 5 star recipe here.  It got thumbs up all the way around, and I seriously doubt I'll ever try another recipe.  It was delicious.  Note to those who may be put off by the first section, which explains how to fry your own shallots.  I skipped this and topped it with a sprinkling of pre-fried onions from the store.  And it still won all our votes. It's on the repeat list for the Christmas menu.

This easy pumpkin cheesecake was a keeper too.  I traded the pre-made crust for a crushed biscotti and butter crust, and prepped it in a small springform pan. I loved this because I made it 3 days ahead. It settled in well and saved me stress on the day of Thanksgiving by being ready to go.

For the kids, I made these glazed pumpkin cookies. They were easy and delightful.  We made them into turkeys with Oreos and some imported candy corn from the American shoppe.  A big hit with young and old alike.

Happy Cooking! 

Friday, November 24, 2017


This little turkey came down with a fever the day before Thanksgiving, right when my hands were full of green beans and cobs of corn.  He sat on the couch for an entire afternoon and watched Calliou while I cooked up a storm.  In hindsight, I doubt I would have accomplished half as much if he had been well enough to "help" me.  Asher calls himself a good "cooker." And he is my little kitchen buddy often.  Cracking the eggs open is his favorite job.  I'm sure you can imagine how that goes.

His fever broke around 3am on Thanksgiving morning, and David got to hang out with him for a while before they fell back asleep.  The boys, including David, who started his language intensive the day I finished mine, all went to school for the morning.  Asher watched more Calliou, and I cooked for a gathering with friends.  They very kindly said, "Bring that baby over, sick or well." And so we went, with thankfulness overflowing.

My heart just feels so overwhelmed with thankfulness that we have friends to share the day with, a toddler to tend, boys to toss a ball with and a beautiful country to live in. Holidays always bear the temptation of wishing to be somewhere else - for me that somewhere is always my grandmother's farm on Thanksgiving. This year I felt better able to bear that tension - to be glad that I have family to miss but still be really present right here in the life I'm living.

This week my heart has been just about undone with the gift of gratitude.  God is so wise to command it of us.  All sorts of beautiful fruit pours out when I obey.  Joy being among the most delightful of those fruits.

Here are a few pictures of the day, for posterity's sake.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Friday, November 17, 2017

The way the city changes

We have been in our "piso" for over a year now. We're situated in the heart of downtown, in a metropolitan European city.  It's a different life than what I imagined us living.  Traffic rushes past our windows 24/7, my kids have races on the balcony and in alleyways, and I can give a fairly accurate estimate of how many kids will be in the park at any given time of day.

I guess I always thought my kids would be traipsing through fields at this age or, at the very least, building treehouses.  Instead, they're growing into skateboards for the concrete, and handling massive intersections like traffic-safety champions.

While I'm always glad to get out a bit, for the most part, we like living in the city.  It's been a fun adventure to be downtown in a place like this. Some of the best museums, parks and architecture in Europe are in our backyard.  We play in the shadow of a church with a history almost as long as my home country. I pick up a fresh baguette for lunch on my way home every day.  When I forget to grab diapers, I can literally run downstairs and buy them. We walk everywhere.

One of the aspects of city life that I've been noticing lately is the sensation that it is smaller than it was when we first arrived.  It doesn't feel like a blur of buildings and traffic to me anymore.  I don't get anxious when I have to jump on a bus.  I can even give a decent restaurant recommendation or two.  It feels like my neighborhood. When I walk out my door, I usually bump into people that are familiar.

The man who runs the eyeglass store around the corner greets me each morning as I walk to the gym.  I see him later taking his granddaughter to school on his scooter.  We buy bread from the same shop, and I usually don't even have to tell them my order any more. I left my cell phone at the local grocery one afternoon, in a city known for cell phones pickpockets.  When I returned 3 hours later, they waved as I walked in and pulled it out of the cash drawer for me.  I've run into people that I know 3x this month...on the subway.  In a city of 5 million.

The city is shrinking for us, and I like it.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Quotable Kids

The words flying out of little mouths this week that had me laughing:

Jude, while walking to school on a crisp winter morning munching on a carrot, " Mom, I wish you could have warmed up this carrot for me. I have cold hands in a coooold world." 

Silas, while riding the bus with the after school teen crowd, sighs longingly, "I sure wish I could have a cell phone, Mom." I cannot even bring myself to imagine that kid in the teen years.

Asher, hiding under the covers in our bed, screams, "I can't see my eyeballs!!! I can't see my eyeballs."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Apple Slab & Lullabies

 It's getting cold around here. And I love it! The leaves outside our window are turning the colors of fall. (One of the perks of being on the 4th level is that you get a great view of the tree tops.)

In honor of autumn, I made this fantastic apple slab recipe.  David and I ate the entire thing. It's quick, easy and so worth the calories!

These cuties got their winter pajamas this weekend. I'm wondering how much longer they'll all get so excited about matching? I'll take it while it lasts!

Speaking of pajamas, a sweet friend sent me Christy Nockel's new lullaby album: Be Held.  You should go now to iTunes and purchase this gem.  Head to Toe, a lullaby detailing the Armor of God, is on repeat (for momma) these days in our house.

And when I wake, the final week of the Spanish intensive begins.  The exam is on Thursday and I'm already shakin' in my fall boots.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

skates and spanish

The day our month 'o' visitors ended, I started a three-week language intensive.  It's a review of the tense that's giving me lots of trouble. A tense I really need to master to move forward.

Jude illustrated how it's going with his new roller skates.  I did not purchase these skates, a friend gave them to him. I almost gave them back.  I also almost backed out of this class. But we're trying to be a persevering people.

1. This was the first week.  I was eager to be back in class, ready to a challenge, and feeling steady on my feet.

2.  Then we started using words like desde, hace, despues and the detested preteretito imperfecto with it's bjillion irregular forms.  I started to stumble. I lost my balance.

3. This photo mostly aptly sums up my current state.

Tomorrow morning may come a little too quickly. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reformation Day, 500th Anniversary

We are so close to Germany this year that I really almost booked tickets.  How amazing would that be? I actually think I've been to the church in Wittenburg, but it was well over a decade ago.  I love the story of Martin Luther.  

Tonight we had our annual Reformation Day Dinner.  We had to postpone a night due to the chestnut festival in Catalunya yesterday. (More pictures on that later.) I did forgo the nailing of the Theses this year. The door is glass😬. And I wasn't quite prepared enough to get the monk costume together. Mom fail on this 500th anniversary, right?

However, we did draw pictures of the church, and watched this fantastic little video (made with Playmobil animation?!). Then there were the hammers. The kids still don't always remember Martin Luther's name, but they totally remember that I make "hammers" out of cut up donuts and kebab sticks.  It's one of their favorite traditions.

The 500th anniversary celebrations have certainly prompted some great discussions about his life.  Click over to read this article entitled, Here We Stand

Grateful for a man who stood.