Thursday, July 28, 2011

Love...on a baking sheet

I could smell the orange rolls even before she opened the door. She greeted us with a smile and a hug and led us into her kitchen. A baking sheet sat in the center of the table. An entire baking sheet of warm, orange rolls. Perfect bow knot-yeast rolls, drizzled with orange glaze. Her specialty.

The kids and I eagerly sat around the table. (There may have been a little drooling.)

"The entire sheet is for you," she said. Then as we began to eat, she got out glasses and poured cold milk.

You know how I feel about food and love. Here it was, an entire baking sheet of love.

I ate three. Yes, three! And I licked my fingers.

Oh, how I will miss these orange rolls for the next two years (I just have NOT mastered the yeast roll technique). But, I will miss the baker so much more.

I know today was part of a goodbye, though neither of us wanted to talk about it. So instead we looked at pictures of Jakarta's hazy skyline. We laughed at CJ's antics. And I used her computer to send photos to Costco. It was like every other wonderful moment I've spent in her kitchen.

There is a rare moment in a friendship when the lines between friend and family become blurred. For me, the moment occurs when I no longer clean my house for their arrival. And this friend has seen it all. She's seen the breakfast dishes on my kitchen table at three o'clock in the afternoon. She's seen not only the dust and messes of my closets, but all the skeletons too. She's seen me at my worst and loved me anyway. We've laughed together, cried together, cleaned together, traveled to NYC together (twice!!), run together, and shared delicious meals together over the past seven years.

I tried not to think about any of this as we sat in her kitchen. It would have made me too sad to leave. So instead, I enjoyed the comfort of absolute familiarity. And I breathed deeply, inhaling the delicious citrus scent.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Meya stood in the middle of the room, barefoot. Water dripped from her freshly washed haired onto her pajamas. We were just about to begin the nighttime routine: book, prayer, lullaby. But her nose became pink and her eyes filled with tears.

"I want to go home, Mom."

I know what she was asking for. She wanted to return to our house on Ivandale St. But it was more than wasn't just the place she was missing. She was longing for the stability and familiarity associated with the house we moved out of two weeks ago.

I held her and rocked her and I tried to convince her that "home" is wherever our family is. She calmed down enough so that I could continue with the routine. I tucked her into an unfamiliar bed and said goodnight.

Home. I've been thinking a lot about it - even before Meya brought it up.

This will be the 10th move (as in moving to a completely different state) I've gone through in my life. Six of them happened before I graduated from high school and headed off to another state for school. And I can say with conviction that every place I've lived was, for a time, home.

Walls. Plaster. Timbers. An address. These things have very little to do with a home.

Traditions. Routines. Love. Laughter. Work. People. These are what makes a home.

And so as I go through this transient part of our travels--hopping from hotel to hotel, living at friends' houses, and arriving at temporary quarters in Jakarta--I will try to help my children not feel homeless. We're bringing home with us wherever we go.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Warm Bread with Butter

I was doing fine. Really. 36 hours till the movers would arrive.

The house looked like a tornado had blown through (still does). Piles everywhere. And I was trying really hard to keep it together emotionally. I even laughed a couple times today.

Then at 6pm tonight, someone knocked on my door. It was a friend, her arms laden with a hot dinner for our family. Chicken straight off the grill, steamed broccoli, brown rice pilaf, and watermelon. She walked through my disaster of boxes, bags, piles, and debris, the smell of dinner wafting behind her.

We cleared a spot on my dining room table and hunted for the paper products that were hiding under some boxes of Macaroni and Cheese.

And then she uncovered the bread. Hot from the oven. I burst into tears--surprising myself. I guess I was more stressed than I was allowing myself to acknowledge. The dinner was such a gift!

I had planned on frozen pizza, instead my family ate, among other things, warm bread with butter. And I sat down and enjoyed every bite.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rolling with the Punches

Yesterday we found out that Meya needs surgery on her eyes. She has a similar condition that Tman had, only instead of her eyes crossing (like Tman's did), her eyes turn slightly out. We knew that down the road, surgery was a possibility. But as of yesterday's check-up, the doctor said, "It's time."

The good news: Meya will be able to have the surgery here in the US, with a doctor that we know and trust.

The bad news: Our departure to Indonesia is now complicated. My husband will still leave as scheduled. But the kids and I will now stay an additional two weeks to allow Meya's eyes to heal. Then (deep breath!) I will fly with the kids, on my own, to Indonesia. We will arrive (another deep breath!) with only three days before the kids have to start school.

I experienced a modified version of the 7-steps of grief while in the doctor's office. I choked on denial then moved on to accept not only the diagnosis, but also the solution. Panic ebbed and flowed as the consequences of the decision (mainly the 22 hours on a plane with my 2 year old and no husband) became clear. Then after leaving the doctor's office and riding the elevator down two floors, I gave in to tears. My emotion unnerved Madi who came to my side and hugged me.

And then, something else happened...I called my mom as I drove home. From her perspective (which I quickly adopted) she saw this as a HUGE blessing. How much better for us to have Meya's medical care done here than trying to work things out in a third-world country where I don't even speak the language. Also, we both realized that my mom and dad will actually be here when Meya has her surgery - dad was going to be here on business anyway.

Finally, my mom reminded me that pioneer blood runs in my veins. If my ancestors could trek across the plains pulling their belongings in wagons and handcarts, I could certainly survive a plane flight and lay-overs that will last less than two days.

By the end of the day, my perspective had changed. Instead of seeing this turn of events as a punch to the stomach, I saw it as a huge blessing, wrapped up just for us, that happened to land perfectly in my lap. I am reminded that Heavenly Father is mindful of me and my family, and for that I am so grateful. Instead of feeling buffeted and bruised, I felt blessed. Yes, it had been a stressful day, but I was able to lie down and sleep soundly last night.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sistah Time

The premise of my sister's visit was to help me get ready for the move. Katie did, after all, inherit all the organizational/cleaning genes in the family (I certainly didn't inherit them!). She flew all the way from St. George, Utah. And I really couldn't wait to see her!
Doesn't it look like we worked hard? :-) In actuality, we did get stuff done. On two of the days she was here, we cleaned in preparation for a house-showing. We also organized my TV cabinet and threw away tons of stuff.
The kids also got in some good auntie-Katie time.

The fact is, when your sister is also your friend, we had to fit in some play time. We shopped (just a teeny tiny bit). She introduced me to green shakes - I could only stomach two mouth-fulls on the first day, but by the end of the week, I could drink a whole cup. We went running and she joined me at my gym for a spinning class.

But my favorite nights were the daddy-daughters date nights. Dad happened to be in town for business. Tuesday night, Katie and I had tickets for "Old Times" at the Shakespeare theater. Dad joined us at the last minute - there just happened to be an open seat available right next to us.
The next night we went to Georgetown for dinner. Dad stood in line at the Georgetown Cupcakery while Katie and I explored the Georgetown row houses. We got a little turned around (not lost!) and raced back just in time to enter the store with Dad and make our delicious selections. Then we walked across the Key Bridge at dusk as the lights of the city twinkled across the Potomac River.

The premise of Katie's visit was to help me get ready to move. And she did. Sure, we did a little work but more importantly, we made some wonderful memories.