15 months to the day have passed since I was here last.
The last post shows a Florida beach on a cool morning.
This post shows a New England beach on a frigid afternoon.
Life has shifted, to say the least.
Today we celebrated my 37th birthday by driving from Boston down to Newport. I was born there and have no memories, so today I sought to fix that.
Rocky coasts, freezing temps, fat seagulls, a blizzard on the the horizon.
A year ago today was comically awful. But true to what I said (hoped…prayed) that day, it makes for a good story. There were sick children. Sick me. Issues with prescriptions. Church drama. And the day was forgotten by some close to me. But the hardest part was the heaviness that seemed to weigh all of our days felt heavier still that day.
Today, though, there was lightness.
I’m still not sure how to share all that happened. I’m not sure it needs to be shared.
But the fact that Boston is now our home is a gift to us.
Happy 37th to me.
April 2015! The month that got away from me! The month that was full of Portland! Seattle! Tacoma! Cuba! Omar’s birthday! And I don’t remember anything else!
So for now, Miami. We went to Miami Saturday to celebrate Mother’s Day, Elisha’s birthday, and Lenna’s birthday with Omar’s family. I managed to get Elisha to request his abuela’s ribs and rice and beans. He requested flan all on his own. I remember so clearly celebrating Elisha’s 1st birthday at Omar’s parents’ home. I remember so clearly dropping an insane amount of money on a bug cake pan from Williams-Sonoma only to realize that unless you have a doctorate in Cake Decorating, they’ll turn out looking like a 2 year old decorated them.
The kids played, Omar (semi)relaxed, and I got to sneak in a haircut. We’re coming up on six years of living in Palm Beach County. That makes it six years that I’ve been making the trek to Miami to get the most un-Miami haircuts there ever were. (No, I would not like waist-length hair, slick-straight, with long layers. Ha!) But it would take another county or two to make me hunt for a new hairdresser. The haircut is such a small part of it. I love Miami. I miss a lot of Miami. The haircut is a good excuse to go walk and sit and participate, for lack of a better verb, in Miami.
There have been moments over the past few weeks when four kids seemed like 40. Lots of questions and squabbles and things they must tell me now and tears all at the same time. Or like when the A/C guy came in the other day and the kids started doing their darting around quickly thing and the baby started fussing and everyone was in the same smallish room, I really think I saw the A/C guy counting how many kids there were. I know there’s only four but in that moment it felt like tons.
But on the whole, four has been smooth. We’re finding our groove in school again. Everyone is sleeping rather well. I even baked muffins the other day, people. And that was much to Asher’s shock. Have him tell you about it, and he’ll make it sound like it has been ages! eons! forever! since that happened.
You know how when there is a big event on the horizon for a long time (graduation, start date of a job, wedding, birth, etc) your mind can’t really see life past that date? Well, now life is happening past that date, and while some days are a struggle most are full of good things. Mondays are our “sabbath,” and I’m finding I am guarding them more than I have in a long time. Everyone needs the rest. Everyone needs a break in the routine. And like last Monday proved, everyone needs a doughnut from a local shop and a trip to the wildlife sanctuary sometimes.
this one was sitting on my right today in church. during a lengthy prayer i felt something wet and tongue-like on my right arm. i open my eyes, glance down at this one, and he whispers to me, “i’m giving you a cat bath.”
Today I had white beet and black radish soup with toasted walnuts and some of the best bread I’ve had in awhile. And then for dessert I ate a couple macaroons (pumpkin chocolate and almond port) with a cardamom cappuccino. All while wearing a scarf. And a wool coat. In Atlanta.
In a whirlwind of spontaneity (which I actually resisted at first…what was I thinking?!), I ended up in Atlanta with Omar and without any kiddos. So while he was in a meeting all day I wandered the city and stumbled upon some great Christmas gifts, talked cameras with one shop owner, talked Haitian restaurants with another shop owner who is a native Miamian, and talked chocolate with yet another. Evidently I’m quite chatty when there are no little people around.
lenna is perhaps our least “trick oriented” kid. she’s not quick to dance or kiss or wave on command, especially if there is a camera pointing at her. but if you ask her to be a cookie? she heads on over to the cabinet and does her thing. here you have it.
i’m glad she’s inherited both my love for baking (that’s a silpat she’s trying to plop herself down on) and my distaste for leaving cabinet doors open.
i can easily get fixated on a specific topic and then i’ll read anything i can get my hands on relating to my current obsession. but i enjoy it when i pick the topic. it can make me a bit nervous when i feel something coming at me from all sides, uninvited.
in the course of a few days, the issue of money, simplicity, tithing seemed to knock me over at every corner. and i have to be honest that it is not the most comfortable topic to be dealing with at all angles. omar starts talking to me about a tim keller series about tithing. innocent enough. then we get our act together and sign up for the ccda (christian community development association) 2008 conference. then we agree to host shane claiborne for the conference. then i start reading richard foster’s freedom of simplicity.
so i am mentally relenting to this topic and agreeing to dive in with an open heart and mind. i find i use the word “simplicity” easily and perhaps often. but when i seriously think about it, what is simplicity? is that how i live? is it how we are called to live? i do not want to jump on just another cultural bandwagon, giving into what is chic (if indeed there is a “simple chic” bandwagon) for the moment.
and i am also learning what simplicity is not. simplicity does not have to be defined in terms of the negative. simplicity is not the absence of beauty or art or music or good food. practically, it doesn’t mean i can’t have rugs or art on my mantel or whatever. and i know the following statement is part of christianity 101 but i often forget it: everything i own, have, want is God’s. i can easily fall into a state of nervousness/dissatisfaction that i don’t own my home. the following passage is from foster’s book and is part of a discussion about jubiliee:
Another interesting thing about the Jubilee was the perspective it gave on the land, a perspective that was characteristic of Old Testament thought. The land did not have value in and of itself, but only in terms of the number of crops is would produce until the Jubilee (Lev. 26:16). Land was not used as an investment as is common today. The point was that the children of Israel did not own the land; they were merely given the use of it. God was the sovereign of the land…God had so parceled out the land that all the people could benefit from its produce. p.22
i love this. even if i did own this bit of land i live on, it is still God’s and my responsibility ought to be making sure others benefit from our home and our lives. and i would love to say that i also have “crops” to contribute but i don’t think my little sprouting plants count.
reading and learning about all of this is good. uncomfortable at times and squirm-inducing but good.
two subjects that arouse questions, laughter, and perhaps horror. omar has made a habit of saying “blog post” after any event that is out of the ordinary. a great dish, weird moment, crazy comment, whatever. as we sat at the table this morning i told him of my crazy sinus pressure. “i used the neti pot,” i told him. we then started coming up with junior high boy names for it. “snot pot” won. “blog post,” omar said. he then asked where i first heard about them. i proudly answered, “oprah.” omar responded, “now it’s definitely a blog post.”
so it is. what other person can talk about a neti pot one day and religion the next? oprah fascinates and freaks me out at the same time. fascinates because i hear so many women use her lingo, even when it’s weird or questionable. freaks me out because especially in regards to religion/christianity she is so off base yet she chooses often to use christian language. i consider watching her an assignment on figuring out what the average american woman is thinking – for good or for not-so-good.
a couple of months ago i turned the show on and saw elizabeth gilbert, the author of eat, pray, love being interviewed. it was evidently a follow-up visit because of her popularity. gilbert explained again how she left her husband and set about on her travels which resulted in the book. many audience members then shared the influence the book had on their lives. they explained how they set up their own ashrams in their homes to meditate in, even though several women said they had no idea what they were doing. they were just working on emptying their minds and finding peace. hmm. others proudly spoke of how they now put their needs and wants first. gilbert and oprah encouraged these women. when one asked if this was perhaps selfish, gilbert answered that if it benefits you then it is not selfish. the real kicker came, though, when oprah asked gilbert to define “god.” gilbert answered, “god is the perfection that absorbs.” she then affirmed that the notion was indeed gnostic. even oprah acted a little confused but didn’t question her. i think she followed up with one of her catch phrases like, “thank you for giving voice to your belief.”
so there you go. yes, i watch oprah. she sucks you in with the allure of the neti pot then makes you fiery with talk of mind-emptying ashram meditation. let’s just say it keeps me thinking.
so our tree that we ditched last week disappeared from the trash pit the next morning. omar was going to snap a photo of it to include in the movie he was making about our tree saga. but it was gone. oh yes. someone took our pitiful tree. i told him if there was a fire on our street this week we would know who snatched it. and then yesterday morning a tree appeared again in the pit. yes, i know it is the time when people start tossing their trees, but it looked eerily similar. omar and i are debating whether it is ours or not. after analyzing the trunk scrapes and cracks, we’ll pretend it is. it makes for a nice ending to the whole story.
watching elisha discover books i read as a little one is exciting. he’s been enjoying an old “the night before christmas,” and one of my favorites, patricia scarry’s “the sweet smell of christmas.” at the moment, though, the latter should be retitled “the sweet taste of christmas.” he doesn’t quite have the sniffing action down.elisha seems to be enjoying the tree and is partial to a few homemade ornaments his dad and i made. the first year omar and i were married i remembered my parents had an old christmas ornament kit they bought their first year of marriage 30+ years ago. they completed several of the clothespin ornaments but the rest of the kit traveled the world through various moves and still managed to stay intact. i pulled out the old box and with the help of some fresh paint we spent a few evenings creating these beauties and a few others. i can’t believe all the parts were still there. i’m partial to the hula girl.
speaking of the tree. it’s dead. and in a trash pit. it was a beautiful tree. but according to “boys and girls club” i am unable to care for trees. to them i’m a scammer. after twenty minutes, and a few tears, i convinced the guy i was talking to that a mom of a 2 month old and a 19 month old doesn’t have the energy to run around miami scamming for refunds on tree purchases. no worries, though, we managed to find friends who are going out of town and lovingly donated theirs. maybe we should try this tactic next year…
five cookies eaten at a christmas party + no nap = one cranky toddler who didn’t make it through the advent readings last night. advent has proven to be a challenge this year. we’ve managed to invite a family over for dinner each week but the candle lighting consists of a tea light in a sooty votive holder lit with a bic lighter – a far cry from colored candles in a wreath.
after much encouragement from friends and husband, here it is. the first post. as i move increasingly farther south, i am farther away from friends and family. so here is my attempt to keep in touch. here are some tales of the kitchen, books read, life in miami, and babes underfoot.my brother started out his blog “with a little help from grace jones.” to which i wondered, “what…grace jones??” and since i can only think of her in context of conan, i am evidently supposed to summon help from “conan the destroyer” spirits to bless the birth of my blog. so be it. i’ll bypass tracey walter and go straight to the man himself.