under my tree: angry birds

There have been a lot of secret meetings and whispers and giggling behind doors lately. Christmas morning revealed the source of it all:

Joshua was the mastermind behind it all:
he found a job for them to do
to earn 99 cents
to buy me angry birds.
The awesome bit is that I get first dibs on the game every time.
even awesomer - - is the pictures they all drew for me


I peeled my eyes open at 8:30 this morning. I hadn't heard the kids yet so I thanked God that they had slept in. I came out of my room and found out that Ginny had been watching them since 7. So then I thanked God for such an amazing mother-in-law.
As I proceeded to ease my way into the waking world, Ginny lead the kids in a rousing game of domino's (what I like to call "fun math" - - yep, that's counting towards school work); I found a sunny corner and flipped through cooking magazines and had cheese and jalapenos on Triscuits, and coffee - - all at the same time. I thought that maybe my breakfast seemed a little ghetto, but felt redeemed since I ate it on Spode (Ginny's Christmas china) while wearing ballet flats (one of my amazing Christmas gifts from Ginny)
Thanks Ginny for watching my kids and keeping me classy!


the best gift. ever.

Jesus, son of God, creator of the universe,
born as a man
to carry out the most incredible rescue plan known to mankind.

breathtaking .

We had the loveliest sort of Christmas morning with Jim and Ginny; we had eggs and bacon and fresh squeezed orange juice, and read that amazing story about God becoming man - - in Spanish and then in English (did you know that the Jesus Storybook Bible is finally translated into Spanish? this makes me so happy. I have been doing some shady on-the-spot translating of our english Storybook Bible for the kids for the past few months; I'm glad to have someone else do the translating for me!)

And we spent hours opening our pile of gifts; because gifts must be opened one at a time, and talked about and passed around. I'm convinced that it really is the best way way for a gift to be given and received. I wonder how you open Christmas gifts with your families? please tell me!


Josu strategizes

Joshua reminded Josu that it was his turn to play.
Josu pounded his head with his fist and told us that he knew that it was his turn, but that he had two possible tiles and was trying to decide which one he should play to give him a better play next turn.
aaahhhh . . . my boy - - thinking more than one step ahead; this is like a rite of passage in my book.



We've been up to San Francisco and come back again; we spent four beautiful days remembering Grandma. There were picnics and walks and the Golden Gate bridge. And there were cheese platters and beautiful flowers, and family - - of course, family - - sisters drinking coffee together, cousins snuggled up on the couches together, everyone taking turns holding the baby or reading to the kids. We spend four days doing exactly what I think Grandma would have had us doing.

my heart is glad: I truly believe that Grandma is with Jesus. She knew Jesus and enjoyed him on this earth. but now . . . oh yes, now she knows him like she never did on this earth; and now she is unhindered in her enjoyment of him! this is a sweet, fresh, genuine comfort to my soul.

my heart is touched by a lingering sadness: This world is not the way it was meant to be; God - - the designer and maker of our world did not make it this way . . . sin perverted his masterpiece; death is perhaps the most poignant reminder of this. Death reminds my heart to long for the day when Jesus will come back and make everything right.


and just like that - - Josu is five

Josu is five. He tells me that he can run faster and jump higher; and he wonders if there is a problem because he still can't read. He expected five to bring literacy, apparently. (I would have liked that for him too)

I had all sorts of fantastic birthday party ideas for him
"How about a fishing party!? We could have magnetic fishing poles and fish for prizes!"
"nope. Star Wars"
"How about a space party!? we could make a gigantic rocket out of a refrigerator box!"
"nope. Star Wars"
. . . and this mama, who says no to so many other things (um, like that horrendous Star Wars backpack, and every Star Wars t-shirt that we pass in every store) decided to say yes to a Star Wars birthday party.
sometimes it's nice to say yes.
he didn't even notice that the Star Wars cake was pretty much the ugliest cake ever made)


I'll do better, I promise.

I called my Spanish friend Trini this morning.
In true Spanish fashion,
she scolded me for not responding to the email
that she sent me 3 months ago.
She told me that the kids had been checking for a reply
every single day.

I deserved a scolding.


in celebration of the bride

This is the post in which I document the dinner we had for Rachel's bridal shower - - where Rachel tells us about her first kiss with Brett,
Gabrielle tells a funny story,
and I'm pretty sure that the people behind us wish that they were at our table:


Selma is three (and has a party to prove it)

that was fun.
and more work than I anticipated. (Parties are always that way for me; I never seem to be quite prepared enough)

We had "run with a button in your spoon" races. I thought this would be a really good idea - - simple enough for the three year olds at the party . . . and fun enough for the five year olds there. But somehow it went all wrong; one of the five year olds kept cheating, and one of the three year olds kept insisting on getting a different colored button to put in her spoon. There was one four year old who did everything perfectly but she didn't get any credit because everyone else was crying because their buttons kept falling out.

so the race was a tremendous failure; but golly! look how cute all those little ladies are!:

some things I loved about this party:
1. my neighbors came!
2. my friend Catherine was there, and was not just a delightful participant . . . she was a trusty helper so that when I realized "AAAAHHHH! I forgot to cut the quesadillas into button shapes!!!" I could ask her to take over while I ran into the kitchen to do the necessary quesadilla shaping. thanks Catherine!
3. there were little girls running everywhere; that never happens at my house!
4. my neighbor Deanne grabbed my camera so that me and my three year old girly could be in the same picture!

(Selma getting her new earrings put in - - look at her face! her hands! her toe! she loved it)


cake and bbq; but not together.

Tomorrow we have a little birthday party for Selma.
we invited some old friends
and some new friends.
"my girls" Selma calls them.
we're both excited.

So we baked her birthday cake today.
And since I had the oven going already, I decided it was the right time to cook the ribs I had in the fridge.
I bought them last week to make these:
six hours later, when I pulled those bad boys out of the oven
it was too hot in my kitchen to eat them in my kitchen,
so we all carried our plates to the front yard and dined under the stars.
Not that we could see the stars,
but I'm sure they were there; and that was nice.

p.s. I discovered that if I reduced my bbq sauce way, way too much
it turns into a caramel of sorts,
I think I could probably pour it into a buttered 8x8 pan,
cut it into cubes,
wrap it in wax paper
and sell it to someone.

there must be a niche market out there for bbq caramels. I've just got to find it.


unmet haircut expectations. and a trip

There were haircuts all around today.
Josu cried when he realized that his hair wouldn't be straight after the cut.
Malachai freaked out when I cut off the hair in front if his ear; he thinks they are sideburns, and he feels like a man when they grow long.

Tomorrow begins our long awaited trip to Idaho;
while we are there, I am going to:

1: spend long hours talking with my dear friend Evy (who expresses her gift of encouragement in the most marvelous way possible)

2. try to keep my boys and her boys from kicking each other in the face, because I know they are going to want to wrestle and play kung-fu all day long . . . and I know they are going to love it.

4. run a 10k with Evy (who am I kidding? I will probably run half of a 10k and then walk the other half)

3. make Jedi Knight costumes for all the boys in the house.

and then, after Idaho. . . we go to Texas! for Rachel's wedding!


ice cream for breakfast, of course

After we fed the kids their dinner we sent them upstairs - - and to bed. It turns out that along the way they remembered that 8 hours earlier I had promised them ice cream for dessert after dinner.

But I couldn't give them dessert.
the adult dinner table was set;
Catherine's famous blackened chicken was piping hot.
there was not time for a child's dessert.

so I did the only reasonble thing possible:
I promised them ice cream for breakfast the next morning.


we've got it good

Some good things about today:
1. We had a family date to Starbucks and Trader Joe's
2. Selma wore her purse. (sometimes, when she takes her purse she puts food in it; smart girl)
3. We asked for our small coffees in mugs (did you know you can do that? Yes you can. I think that it's classy and I like that my coffee doesn't end up tasting like paper); our local, friendly Starbucks only had size gigantic mugs; so we got a coffee upgrade - - from small to huge for free.
4. While we drank our giant coffees, Malachai read The Hobbit out loud to us (in Spanish - - clever, clever boy . . . )
5. Our friends Matt and Stephanie are out of town and they asked us to pick up their 20 pound box of organic fruit and vegetables from their co-op. they told us to eat as much of it as we wanted. we may eat it all.
6. We are going over the Pue's house tonight. we are going to hang out with a new cute couple from church and watch Once. And Catherine is going to make us that awesome blackened chicken thing that she is famous for.

we've got it good.


double your running distance . . . just like that. easy.

Selma ate a pickle today
and I went for a run

not at the same time though.

But I'm not here tonight to tell you how cute Selma is when she wakes up from her nap and eats a pickle (she is cute though; isn't she cute?).

I'm here to tell you how to up your running distance in five easy steps:

1. decide to go for a quick run - - just real quick - - not long at all
2. don't look at a map before you leave
3. convince yourself that the weather is so nice - - you can run just a half a mile more
4. cut across from that one street to that other one that you are pretty sure meets up with that other street
5. turn around and run home. drag yourself up the hill.

just like that.


homeschool with the Smiths

some homeschool families stay in their pj's all morning long as they do their homework.
But what if your pj's are your undies?


Speaking of Kim . . . I've really got to hand it to her for being quick on the relational uptake. I don't think we had even dried our hair or wrung out our bathing suits after our swim at their place, when she was knocking on our door with invitations to her boys birthday party the following week . . . and then a couple of weeks later, an invite to a real-live princess party.
So I'm making a princess gift.
I stood in line at Joann fabrics on Monday and the woman who attended me at the cash register asked me what I was going to sew with all my miscellaneous fabric items (aren't they good that way? I love it when they ask)
"a princess and the pea doll" I told her.
"sounds cool" she told me
"it's awesome in my head" I said
tomorrow's the big day. I'm off to sew some more mattresses.


five years later . . . Kim

I have a friend named Carol (I love Carol!)
I met her in College.
five years ago, Carol and her family moved away to another state - - far, far away. before she moved, she invited us to her baby girl's birthday party
where I met Kim - - Carol's good friend and co-worker

(fast forward to last month)

I have a friend named Shannon (I love Shannon!)
When we had no place to live last month, she and Steve invited to stay at their place for a bit (risky love, right?)
While we were there, the neighbors across the street invited us to all come over for a swim in their sweet awesome pool.
of course we went
and there was Kim!

I love it when God does that.


the reading and spelling crazies

Malachai picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this morning.
he put it down when he went off to his site classes at 8:00 am,
and then picked it up when he came home at 3:00
and finished the book before dinner.

That kid amazes me.

I picked up his writing class homework this afternoon and read this:

I like: cechin bogs and lesords (translation - "catching bugs and lizards")

and this one:

I like to: plai bascetbal and resol ("play basketball and wressle")

amazing, huh?

How in the world he can be so exposed to so many properly spelled words and be able to reproduce so few of them accurately!?

post script

ok, I just realized that Charlie and the Chocolate factory was actually in Spanish . . . but still . . . he reads enough in english. . . why can't it all just soak in?

post post script

whatever; who am I kidding? I just had to spellcheck like 20 words on this post; he gets it from his mother; there is no cure.


dessert for breakfast

if you serve your kids oatmeal for breakfast:
use an almond for a nose
and an apple slice for a smile
and chocolate chips for eyes (and your kids will think that you are giving them dessert for breakfast)


the apple tree yard

we did it! we took a family walk down to the apple tree yard yesterday. we knocked on the door and introduced ourselves and asked to pick their apples (actually, Joshua was the one who asked - - one of the best kinds of brave and manly, I think!)
"Yes, yes!" our neighbor told us "take the apples!"

and so we did.
I have a huge pile of apples sitting in my kitchen now, and I'm thinking I really should make up a pie or a crisp. does anyone have a recipe that I really must try?


Labor day-o-love

When we were in Spain, Labor day was one of those holidays that would come and go without us even realizing it. This year, though, it didn't get skipped over; in fact, we celebrated in three spectacular phases:

Labor day - - phase 1:
we stayed in our pajamas morning long until I decided to wash some clothes. the washing machine - - lo and behold - - would not fill, so we made a visit to Ed and Mary's place to see if they knew the trick to get it going (Ed and Mary are the generous, kind folk next door who actually own the home we are staying in). Ed came over with his tool belt and did, indeed fix the machine. Meanwhile, Mary - - who was clipping her rose bushes taught me how it should be done - - and when I shamelessly asked if I could dig through her cast offs and take some flowers home with me, she cut me the nicest stems of roses she had on her bushes; and then she told Malachai where in her rose bushes she had seen a preying mantis so that he could catch it.

that was some good love.
Labor day, phase 2:
Matt and Stephanie, and the rest of their bible study group threw a Labor day bar-b-q. . . and they thought to invite us;
we hadn't planned a bar-b-q for ourselves;
of course not;
we're out of the cultural loop these days.
So we were glad to get the invite to someone elses' shindig.
We figured we made out on two accounts:
they provided ALL the hamburgers and we got to meet everyone's neighbors
Josu made out because he got to carry around his very own can of rootbeer (some guys have all the luck, right?)

that was some good love.

Labor day phase 3:
Ryan and Catherine and their girlies came over for dinner and games
and they picked up like half of the key ingredients (for my special dinner for them) at the grocery store on the way over.
and we laughed harder than we've laughed in a long time

that was some good love


garden sharing

We spent a warm evening out in mom's garden this summer - - Rachel stitching up that gorgeous blue dress that she drafted herself, Gabrielle snuggling with my girl, and Mom with her shovel - - enlisting Amaleah and Selma to pull the snails off of the chard. it was perfect.

So one of the things I love so much about mom is that she gardens in her front yard; as she harvests her zucchini or pulls her weeds, there she is - - quick to strike up a conversation with a neighbor, or to offer a bunch of herbs to a passer-by. . .
and really,
gardening for her isn't only about the world's most amazing tomatoes or most fantastic basil (although she's got that too) - - it's about knowing the people that surround her, and about finding a way to love them.
the sweet little house that we are staying in this fall doesn't have a garden . . . but I went for a jog the other morning, and realized that one of our neighbors has an apple tree in their front yard;
poor abandoned tree; there were apples everywhere;
I wonder if maybe I will take the boys down sometime this week,
we'll ask for some apples, and get to know our neighbors,

through their front yard garden of sorts


at night I think

When we left Spain, we were in the middle of strawberry season; we ate strawberries as we packed our suitcases and emptied out our kitchen cabinets.

 I laid in bed the other night, thinking about Spain;
thinking about how, if I were there, I could get a full crate of Roma tomatoes for 3 euros at my market - with it being the end of summer and all.
and I thought about the glasses I had stacked on my counter to give away.
(and I hoped that someone threw a party with them this summer)