Monday, February 23, 2015


Because I promised myself I'd write...

After I posted on facebook last week that it was 5 degrees fahrenheit, a Jakarta friend responded with the question, "What does that even feel like?"

Even though I think I gave a smug answer and reminisced about a dip in the KCV pool, I've thought about the question all week long. And here's my answer.

The air grabs me. Steals my breath with the shock. In just the few seconds it takes to shuffle from the front door to the car, my fingers ache, even inside my gloves. I turn the car on and watch the dial, waiting for the magical moment when the needle moves slightly higher than the C...I then turn on the warm air and wait for relief. My skin prickles in the moments between cold and warm. Dry. Itchy. Brittle.

But there are beautiful moments too...

As Madi, Elise and I drive back from Leesburg on President's Day, the sun has set and snow falls. It is not the large, gentle flakes. Instead, the air holds a dense mist of snow. Millions of minuscule snowflakes sparkle like a sky full of silver glitter. Fairy dust. The snow swirls in white patterns against the black asphalt like water in a river. It curves, ripples, and twirls.

We spend our days fighting the cold. I slam the door shut behind me when entering the house, trying to trap in the warm. With the furnace out (of course!) we bundle in wool sweaters and socks. We cuddle and spark. We hover near the fire until our backsides are too hot, and we turn ourselves like marshmallows on a stick, trying to get each surface perfectly toasted. We take turns propping our feet up near the small electric heater.

In the morning, the neighborhood sits quietly under the white blanket. The sky is brighter. But the world is softer somehow.  We go for a walk, our boots crunching the snow. Madi hates the sound. She says it makes her teeth hurt and reminds her of biting a towel. I love the footprints. I love the time between each crunch. The hush of the world.

In the past six months, our family has had little "slowdown" time. I sometimes think one of the ways we've coped with the transition is to fill our calendars too us very little time to think about what me miss or how things have changed. But the cold has altered our schedule. We linger, we pause, we talk about non-essential things and realize perhaps they ARE the essential things. I hold Charlotte in my arms. I read books aloud to the youngest three and say "yes" to their pleas of "one more chapter!" Later, Madi, Elise, and I read silently snuggling together in my bed with extra covers.

Here are some "Cold" moments: Owen with his snowblower.
 Amelia's selfie in the cold!
Madie and Elise Pre-snow-run
Post-snow Run

What does cold feel like? It hurts - quite brutally painful. But it is wonderfully beautiful too.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

To Write or Not to Write?...that is the question

It's been six weeks since I've blogged. Almost a record for me. Sadly, I've only written 9 times since I've been back home in Virginia. And I've been home now for six months!

Each time I consider writing, I think, "What do I possibly have to say that is interesting?" Compared to the past three years of excitement and travel, my current life seems very mundane. Work, school, grocery shopping, chauffeuring, laundry, helping kids with homework, exercising, cooking...just a very simple list.

And so I've decided I have to dig a little deeper. Why do I write? Why did I write in the four years preceding my overseas experience?

And for me, the answers are pretty simple:

#1 My blog is my journal. And my journal is simply a place to record the ups and downs and the events of my life (boring or otherwise). The only people I honestly thought would ever read it were my family and closest friends. Anyone else who chooses to read gets insight (sometimes TMI) into my life. Having an "audience" - even if it is my mom or my children - keeps me feeling connected.

#2 My blog is a chance for me to meditate and create my own history. My story. It is a place where I give myself creative license to re-live and learn from my experiences. I believe very strongly in the power of story - my quote at the top of my blog says it all.

If these are my reasons, then there really should not be any excuse to keep me from writing.

So I'm recommitting myself.

There will not be pictures of exotic foods, new places, and paralytic traffic. But there will be simple moments captured and preserved for me...and anyone else who happens to be interested.

With these thoughts (and a lot of cheerleading from my inner self), here are some highlights from the past week I want to always remember:

For my birthday, I attended Michele Reynolds' date night cooking class. Owen and the rest of the husbands chopped vegetables, cooked the chicken, and really rose to the occasion. Karen and I made these amazing stuffed avocados. We listened to Michele's stories (my favorite was about Terrorist soup) and ate delicious food. Oh food makes me happy. Add friends and stories...possibly my favorite combination.

I keep getting older. Blah. Birthdays past 40 are just a reminder of getting older...unless you have amazing friends who make birthdays a wonderful celebration. I walked into the house to find a Bali themed celebration...batik tablecloth, bamboo straws, and a slideshow of Bali playing on the computer. Of course, I cried.
And then there was the food: spinach salad, quinoa salad, smoothies (even the earthy ones!), and the piece de resistance...chocolate peanut butter cake. Do you see the joy on my face?
I think the most special part of this event is that I've kind of been a recluse these past few months. Maybe it's the cold...maybe it's the age of my children...maybe it's my two jobs...but I just do not socially interact with people as much as I used to. In spite of my somewhat hermit persona, I felt so loved by these ladies.

Actually, my family did an awesome job too. I came home from my gym and the kids had CLEANED THE ENTIRE HOUSE! Best birthday present ever!

Finally, a little about love:

Our family has a tradition of doing a "Love Dinner" on Valentine's Day. Usually, I make a yummy dinner, and Owen and I give Valentine notes to the kids. This year, Elise joined me in the kitchen. We made a Mediterranean chicken served over whole wheat pasta, grilled asparagus, and chocolate dipped strawberries. For dessert, we made these incredible lemon custard tarts. Aren't they beautiful?
I may get grumpy and blue (shall I blame the weather?), but really, I have so much to be grateful for. I love celebrating love. I love when Charlotte says, "Mom you are Awesssssommmme!" (even when I don't feel paticularly awesome). I love when Elise decides to do all the dishes or do a quick organizational task around the house. I love when my son rests his head on my shoulder while we watch a movie. I love seeing Amelia curled up on the couch completely immersed in a book. I love watching Madi reach out and try to cheer up one of her siblings. And I love when my husband buys me white roses...just like he did the day after we became engaged (more than 20 years ago).