Thursday, October 5, 2017

Exploring Jakarta: Indonesia, part 2

If you missed Part 1, go ahead and read it first if you want.  Otherwise, carry on.

Our flight had landed sometime in the early hours of the morning, and then we got back to Sudirman Park, the apartment complex area where we would be staying, around 3 am.  A few hours of sleep, and we were awakened by the sounds of the morning call to prayer.  It was lovely, and I sincerely hope that someday I am lucky enough to get to go back and experience it all again.



We went out on the balcony of our apartment to listen to the voices floating over the city. Our apartment was on the 42 floor, and within hearing distance there were (I think?) 5 mosques blending and almost harmonizing in ways that were mesmerizing.

We went back to bed for another hour or two, and then running on four hours of sleep (in a bed) and ready to take on this new world we found ourselves in, we got up and ready for anything.

That morning we went to breakfast at a restaurant inside Citiwalk mall. 
Apparently, that's what I look like after three hours of sleep in 
three days and being on an airplane for 36 (or so?) of those days.

I was incredibly nervous about trying new food.  The menu of course was terrifying, but Alia was patient and talked us through what the different options were. Thankfully, the menu did have some pictures so I had a vague idea of what I might be getting when I finally ordered - Nasi Kuning Komplit.  It had fried peanuts, shredded chicken, rice cooked in coconut milk, scrambled eggs and was to be eaten with shrimp chips and a ridiculously spicy sauce called "sambal" on the side. That sambal was my favorite thing about the food in Indonesia.  Well, the sambal and all the other food became my favorites.

I kind of want to eat this every morning for the rest of my life now.  
Someone send me a recipe, quick.  That darkness on the side of my bowl is the sambal.  
Be wary of how much you allow into your mouth at any one time.  
It is so hot, it may spontaneously combust. 
Also, delicious, which means it's worth it.

Since we were eating at a mall, it was only natural that after we finished our meal we would do a little shopping.  We found some fun new clothes, (of which I still have not gotten a picture of myself while wearing, but should do that someday soon) and some little odds and ends like pens, and notebooks, and headphones.  All the things you need the morning you wake up in Jakarta.

Alia had to leave to go to work, so we went back to our apartment at Sudirman Park and we dropped off our shopping bags.  There was so much to do and see, we hardly knew where to start.  I had already fallen in love with Jakarta from the airport on, but that morning as we began our explorations I knew the feeling was mutual.  I think I loved it so fully and immediately because I couldn't help myself - it felt, looked, and smelled so much like Sao Paulo.  (And I don't necessarily use the word "smelled" in a bad way here.)

Of course one of the first things I had done was compiling a list of all the words in Bahasa that I was trying to learn.  On our last day, just after all the wedding festivities, as we were saying goodbye to Alia's family, her mom told me that my Bahasa was better than Peter's.  Which could not be true because he was mainly the one (along with Alia, and any waiters or drivers or other strangers that were willing to indulge me) who was teaching me, but it was very nice of her to say.  I will cherish her words forever.  I think Bahasa is now officially in my list of the next 5 languages I want to learn.  (French, German, Dutch, Korean, Bahasa, in addition to the ones I do speak: English, Spanish, Portuguese)  

Fun side note story here: We had already learned a few words, one of which was "Good morning".    "Selamat Pagi!" and Alia told us that sometimes you could shorten it to just "Pagi!"  The incident occurred on our first trip in an elevator that wasn't in the middle of the night when someone got on with us.  Poor soul.  My sister looked this sweet lady in the eye, and with the kindest smile imaginable and a slight nod of her head said, "Naga."  

Peter and I looked at Mimi with wonder in our eyes and slack jaws.  The woman my sister had tried to tell "Good morning" to had a very similar expression on her face.  What did Naga mean?  That was the question on everyone's minds that morning.  

When we met up with Alia next, we asked her.  Her face also conveyed her confusion.  We related the incident in the elevator, and she burst into laughter.  "You said, 'Dragon'!"  And that was the beginning of "Naga!" which means dragon in Bahasa, but is just sort of a way of saying, "I don't even know what's going on now!" to the rest of us who were in the elevator that day.  Feel free to begin using it yourselves.

Ok, so where were we, and what did we do next you wonder?

It seemed the whole world lay before us with infinite possibilities to do whatever we wanted.  We!  No children, no parents, no spouses (as much as we love all of those individuals, this was a time for just the four of us, the siblings, the OG if you will!)  We would pick up Dan in a couple days and make the group complete again, in the way of our childhood.

We grabbed a taxi as you do in this country.  Options for travel include walking, taxi, Uber, Grab - which is like Uber for scooters, or bajay; which I will tell you about in a minute! (Get excited.)  We told our willing driver to take us to the National Monument. The National Monument is in an enormous park, and the side the taxi driver dropped us on was entirely filled with little stalls, vendors selling all kinds of wares, a colorful market to the sight as well as full of sounds and smells.  We walked slowly through this crowded market, gawking at all we saw as much as we were being gawked at.  I had not anticipated how much our blonde hair and blue eyes (and height) would attract attention, although my experiences in Brasil as a child should have prepared me somewhat.

I do hope, however, that the stares they gave us were from the same place we found in ourselves: friendly curiosity.  Indeed, when I consider how very nearly every person we made eye contact with (which was all of them), met us with a ready smile and a return greeting of "selamat pagi!"  And not a single "naga" from any of us - except when we meant it in the aforementioned newly coined definition of "what is happening right now?!"

We made our way through the market to the cultured garden-like side of the park, and as is my wont I marveled at the beauty and the varied creativity nature displays in her works.  We wandered.  Time was our own, and it felt limitless.  We talked and laughed and took pictures and I am not sure the last time I felt so completely at ease with who I was, and where I was.  No counting to make sure I still had every little person I was responsible for.  No tugging to move faster, or to hurry up, or for a "can we have a snack yet?"

(edited to add: I just noticed, looking back at my sister's blog post about this, 
that she used the picture of Peter with me, and I 
without even thinking about it obviously used the picture of Peter with her. 
Aren't we cute?)

We eventually made it over toward the monument itself, where we were met by a friendly and extremely knowledgable some sort of tour guide person?

He told us many things, very few tidbits of which I remember and not at all sure I even understood most of them correctly in the first place.  My savvy sister discreetly slid him a tip, which went completely unseen by me until I asked in a panic a moment after walking away, "Should we have tipped him or something?"  Thanks to her smooth moves we parted ways, comfortable acquaintances who once spent a portion of an afternoon discussing Indonesian and Javanese history.  (Java being the island of Indonesia where Jakarta is, thus the island we were on.)

We opted not to climb to the top.  Because of the long line, of course. That's why. 

Suddenly, with some sort of burst of energy, we decided to go to Kota Tua and we recklessly negotiated a deal with the driver of a bajay, and thus off we went, on what would be an equally thrilling and terrifying ride.  Wait, no.  It was only thrilling once we arrived safely and I reflected back on the memory.  In the moment, it was entirely comprised of terrifying.  It is exhilarating to be alive and hopping into questionably safe vehicles!





The bajay is basically a scooter that has a carriage attached so passengers can ride.  Yes.  Exactly.

The driver of this bajay, whom you can see with us in the photo above, dropped us off, as he claimed, as close as he could get us to our destination.  Which was admittedly vague as we just told him what part of Jakarta we wanted to be in but not necessarily an exact location.   So we walked.

As in the market before, there were friendly smiles and ready greetings from every single person we met on the street.  Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last I was struck by how much Jakarta reminded me of Sao Paulo, and ai, que saudades!

The first sight we noticed upon arriving at the central square of Kota were the bright pink bikes being ridden around the open square, by people wearing a wide array of fancy hats. These were apparently all for rent, if we felt so inclined to experience it for ourselves.





It's like the bikes were just waiting for us.


Our interest was piqued by the puppet museum, Museum Wayang, on our side of the large square.  It turned into much more of an adventure than we had bargained for!  At first glance, it was just a quaint old museum full of antique puppets, with nearly (to us) incomprehensible signs, failing in their purpose to explain clearly (again, to us) the history of each puppet.  The signs were fascinating to read, even if they made little (to us) sense, or perhaps because they were so strangely worded made it a delight to try and decipher the story behind the puppet.

In the lobby of the museum, before actually going inside.  
We still look so happy, so unaware of what lay before us.

The real excitement at the puppet museum began when we discovered an ancient door, dating back to the era of Dutch colonialism of the island.  Apparently the museum was built on the site of an old church which had been built in 1640.   People had been buried at the church, and so they kept the door and a wall to memorialize that part of the history. It was made into a museum in 1939, and became a museum as we saw it on this trip in 1975.  (Some fun facts for you!)

Upon opening the door (aren't creepy old unlocked doors in the middle of walls in creepy puppet museums supposed to be opened?)  The depths beyond were darker than the imagination can conceive.  The air was dank and stale, it smelled like dust on dirt mingled with the passing of centuries.  We did not enter.  Then, quite suddenly, and without any warning, all the lights in the already dimly lit museum went out.

Just as suddenly as the lights had gone out there were streams of teenagers rushing past us, screaming and laughing and hollering at each other.  We had no idea what was going on, but no one was turning the lights back on and the museum employees didn't much seem to care.  We turned on the flashlights on our phones (it was really that dark) and went up the stairs.  Yes, we realized that this is the epic mistake people always make in horror movies, but we did so anyway.  Halfway up the stairs, my brother decided to show me this picture of a puppet that I had somehow missed, and he thought I should get to see it.

Now imagine your brother puts that image in your face 
in the absolute darkness of a 16th century building 
without windows as you are climbing the stairs to what may possibly be,
 if life is like a horror movie, a certain and painful death.  
Thanks so much for those nightmares.




What we learned on this trip is that different cultures embrace different things as "beautiful".  I was amazed by how much attention my nose got, and how they praised it for being long.  This handsome warrior is an example of this ideal of beauty.  You can see on the right in the photo above, the actual puppet, and it was his shadow thrown onto the wall on the left that the audience would watch.


Here we are, at the exit to the museum, alive, whole, and startlingly hungry.  Actually, I realize I am not in this picture but I assure you I suffered no ill fate in the museum.  Off to find lunch we went.

Peter strongly encouraged us to find lunch- which would sort of become dinner because we were there so long and ate so much -  at Cafe Batavia.  (Don't be fooled by the word "Cafe" in the title of this restaurant.  It was no sidewalk cafe.)

Say "cheese", Pete!

I think, as a result of surviving the surprising terrors of the puppet museum, we were a little giddy and high on life when we crossed the square and entered the restaurant.  We were so slapstick, probably additionally from lack of sleep finally catching up to us and the joy of being together, that we had to reassure the waiter that we were not at all drunk.  I do not think he believed us.

The waiter was kind enough to take our picture.

 We ordered so much food.  So much good food.  Why is eating so delightful?


Dessert.  You may also notice the now famous dessert face.  This was the moment in my life that I fully and completely realized that there is a distinct disconnect between what I think my face looks like and what it actually looks like.  So much laughter.

They do fruity drinks extremely well in Indonesia.  Take me back!

One final story before this day ends and I leave you waiting for part 3.  When we asked for dessert, the long suffering waiter walked away.  He just turned on his heel, and walked away from the table without any words or anything.  We were a little dumbfounded, but after all, we had been really enjoying ourselves and maybe he wanted to pretend he hadn't heard us order dessert so we would finally leave?

He walked a few paces away to a column in the building where there were displayed several photos in nice big frames.  He pulled two of these off the wall.  Our confusion began to mount.  Is he ignoring us, hoping we leave, and redecorating the place all at the same time?  Props for multitasking...

He turned once more, towards us this time, and framed photos in hand walked back to us.  He handed my brother a photo of a naked woman, and my sister and I got a cowboy or something similar.  We stared at each other in absolute bewilderment, the word "naga" right at the tip of all our tongues.



Finally, the waiter took pity on us and flipped them over, showing us the dessert menu glued to the back.  Oh, the laughs we enjoyed.  I think I can still hear the sounds of our laughter ringing in my ears.  Wait, here, you can hear some of it too.  (this video was actually shortly after the dessert face moment happened.  Mimi had calmed down a little, but Pete and I were still struggling for control.)


video

Part 3: Spa Day will be coming soon!







SaveSave
SaveSave
SaveSave

Away We Go: Indonesia, part 1

A few days before my birthday, my sister and I got on a plane to fly to Indonesia.  Our oldest brother, Peter, was going to get married to Alia.  Michelle, my sister, and I were so very, very excited.  Nervous.  Possibly a bit trepidatious.  (That's a real word.) Of course we were also sad to leave behind our little families:

 Saying goodbye to my people in the hotel room
(so I can fly off to see my other people on the other side of the world).
 I love those faces so very much.

My family ate dinner with me in the hotel room.  Then I hugged them all and said goodbye, walked them down to the car and told myself over and over that they would be fine, and I would be fine, and I would see them again in a week.  After they left, I had a couple blissful hours all to myself before my sister would show up and the journey would truly, truly, truly begin.  What did I do when I found myself alone in a hotel room for the first and only time in my life?  Well, I watched Netflix, in my underwear.  Because I was started to get sick, and clothes just weren't working for me anymore.  I thought about dressing myself again when I knew my sister would be coming soon, but you know what? I just didn't.  Sisters are cool like that.

We got to the airport at 6 am, which was early, but felt even earlier because of not actually sleeping at all the night before.

That first flight was to Dallas, and it was delayed for half an hour which was nice for us because we had found ourselves the night before acting much like children who exasperate parents, as in were had been unable to stop talking.  At one point in the late hours, my sister Mimi said, "We are being so irresponsible!"

And I said, "yes, maybe, but we haven't seen each other without children or husbands in ... how long has it even been?!" So on we went, talking and laughing and sharing things that only sisters can share, and only in the very dark stillness of a place that is home to neither.

These are the faces of, "Are we really doing this?!" and "Yeah, we are really doing this!!!"
We finally boarded our first flight, and we were on our way to Dallas. We were so fresh and innocent then, had no idea what was really in store for us on this adventure.

We landed in Dallas and quickly boarded our flight to Tokyo. I did have time to snag myself a super cute Texas sweatshirt because I was cold, and because I packed in a minimalist style which is fantastic on the shoulders, not always so great in all the details of reality that hit sometimes. In addition to the purchase of my sweatshirt, we quickly grabbed some water, and a turkey or something wrap for my sister to eat for dinner. I decided to gamble on what they would feed us on the airplane. That's me, a wild risk taker.
The flight to Tokyo was 13 hours. We slept some, and watched movie after movie after movie. Literally - we watched three movies in a row. About halfway through the flight, Mimi looked up on the map screen how much traveling we still had left to do. As she was maneuvering to the screen that would show the map, she was exclaiming, "I think we only have just a couple of hours left!" But, once the screen loaded and she saw our fate, she grimly announced, "We still have 16 hours of travel before we are done." (not counting our layover in Tokyo... sigh.)

Looking out the window as the plane began to make its descent.  
Someday I need to go to Japan, just for the sake of being and spending time in Japan.



When we landed in Tokyo, we did a bit of shopping as one does. In particular I purchased some gorgeous little wallets and Hello Kitty merchandise to bring home to my daughters. How can you not? But eventually, the rush of not being on an airplane began to wear off and we were left with a bone deep weariness. The airport was shockingly empty, in almost a creepy way - (Where are all the people? What time is it here? Is it the middle of the day? I think so. Is the sun shining? It seems like it is? Where are all the people then? - Questions that never got answered.) but we managed to shake it off, lay down on one of the many empty rows of chairs to rest and maybe sleep.

Mimi woke up an hour or so later. She looked at the clock and saw that we had overslept and missed our flight, and all panic ensued. When she woke me up in full throttle "What are we going to do?" mode, I was still too groggy and disoriented to fully grasp the depths of our situation.

"We are stuck in Tokyo!" she tried telling me, but I couldn't understand those words. They had no meaning for me. "We?" "Stuck?" "Tokyo?" What are you trying to say? Tell it to me straight!

I looked at the clock. I tried to read it through my now panicking but still sleep deprived brain, and kept asking her what time our flight was supposed to leave. Finally, we all breathed slowly enough to realize that she had read the clock wrong, and that we still had a good hour or more before our plane would even be at the terminal. Rare are the moments where I have been more relieved than I was in that one.

We boarded the plane for Jakarta, yes at last, Jakarta. Double extra special bonus we win at life, we discovered that our seats were the very front row, and that meant: we enjoyed five feet of empty space where our legs could stretch luxuriously, we were not sitting by any strangers, AND we were right by the bathroom. It was the best way to spend (how long was this flight? 6 hours? 5?) of our lives.

This was, of course, our last bit of travel to do, but we were by then so exhausted (because turns out that a shocking burst of adrenaline immediately upon waking from a semi-slumber on a chair in a foreign country's airport is not conducive to actually being restful) that we both fell asleep on the plane before it had even taken off. You can imagine my surprise when I woke up, looked out the window, and discovered that our plane was not in the air as I may have supposed it would be, but sitting on the ground! I thought - hardly daring to hope, but hoping nonetheless - that maybe we had already arrived and I had just slept, really, really well?

But no, it had been an hour long nap during some kind of delay. It would in the end be a 2 hour delay before we actually took to the skies, but we didn't really mind too much - we just fell asleep again.
 On our flight from Tokyo to Jakarta, and we are living the high life of economy class!

When we awoke the second time, we were high in the air and the stewardesses were serving our meals. I had no idea what day it was, much less what time of day but I think the meal they served would have been called "dinner." We watched more movies (so! many! movies!) listened to music- my amazingly super packer sister brought a headphone sharing thingy mahooper so we could listen to the same songs! Life is so good! We colored in coloring books (we have been moms for a loooooong time now, it's true, but let's be real - we probably would have colored anyway. We are who we are, and we make few apologies for it. And only when strictly necessary.) Of course, we took a few more catnaps - flying around the world takes a long time and is, as you may know, tiring.


We landed, found our bags, and found Peter. If I made that sound super simple and easy, it sort of was, and sort of was also filled with minute by minute panic attacks. What if we don't have our bags? What if we don't find Peter? What if we smile at the wrong person at the wrong time and it communicates the wrong message and we don't even know what's happening and suddenly we are in the movie, "The Man with the Red Shoe." (Is that what that movie is even called? I don't even know, that's how scared and confusing this whole thing felt) But as I said, none of that happened and we did find our bags, customs officers passed us through, we found Peter, we got money changed, we found Alia, we found our Uber, we found our apartment, we found our beds, we found sleep.

This epic story will continue in Exploring Jakarta: Indonesia, Part 2


Monday, August 28, 2017

Do's and Don'ts: Attaining Elegance


This is another gem I found in the pile of papers from my mother, inherited from her mother.  I wish I knew the time frame for when this paper came into my grandmother's possession.

Anyway, here are tips and tricks if you've been wondering what has been missing from your life, to give it just that extra pinch it needed.  (I did correct spelling errors, some were too egregious for me to leave as they were.)

1. The look of elegance is in the serving.  Any meal can be elegant if it is served beautifully.

2. When serving an elegant dinner always use cloth or fabric tablecloths or placemats.  Plastic is practical for family, but not elegant.

3. Never serve condiments or relishes in their original containers.  Always use your prettiest serving dishes, jelly dishes, etc.

4. Garnish your foods as pretty as possible.  Parsley and cherry tomatoes add so much eye appeal and eye appeal is the beginning of tummy appeal.

5. Make sure your silver shines and your crystal sparkles before you start.

6. Plan a simple, coordinated menu that will be easy to serve. A harried hostess is never elegant.

7. A lovely buffet served in pretty serving dishes might be the solution to #6.

8. Candles are a must, used with flowers, greens, fruits, or other centerpiece material.  A single flower at each place setting can be very effective.  At Christmas a number of candles of assorted shapes and sizes set in greens is effective.

9. Soft, non-distractive music is conducive to elegance.

Meal and Menu Ideas:

Elegant Lunch - Asparagus Ham Rolls, serve with a citrus fruit salad garnished with shredded coconut and a maraschino cherry, warm toasted rolls, and butter cookies.  Beverage - sparkling punch

Elegant Picnic - Cold friend chicken, potato salad, loaf of crusty French bread, cheeses, grapes, apples, other fruit.  Beverage - sparkling grape juice on ice

Hot Weather Lunch - Seafood salad, assorted melon balls, bananas and strawberries (arrange on lettuce cups with raspberry sorbet), assorted wheat and rye crackers, cookies.  Beverage  - lemonade

Elegant Buffet - Platter of ham, turkey, and other cold meats garnished with parsley and cherry tomatoes.  Pretty bowls of potato, macaroni, and jellied salads - arranged on lettuce leaves.  Basket of breads and rolls covered by linen napkins.  Pretty relish tray, little bowls of mustard and mayonnaise. Punch in a pretty bowl.  An elegant flaming dessert would make a spectacular finish, i.e., cherries jubilee, mini cream puffs piled high and covered with a thin thread of spun sugar, a lovely torte.

Elegant Holiday Dinner - Fruit cup, roast turkey, sage dressing, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, green peas, creamed onions, candied yams, baked squash, relishes, rolls and butter, cranberry sauce, pies (apple and pumpkin)

Holiday Buffet - Sparkling red punch, assorted cookies and breads, nuts, chips and assorted dips

EASY DINNER MENU IDEAS

1. Beef stroganoff on noodles, green beans with slivered almonds, ambrosia, hot buttered rolls, chocolate layer cake

2. Lasagna, tossed salad, hot garlic bread, sherbet, cookies

3. Stir fry peppers and steak on rice, fresh pineapple wedges with strawberries

4. Roast pork, scalloped potatoes, applesauce with red cinnamon candies, fresh buttered broccoli, crescent rolls, lemon pie

(is it just me or are these not what we would call "easy" dinners anymore?)

Thanks for the tips, Grandma.  I will try to serve at least one truly elegant dinner in my lifetime.  Someday.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Family of the Sun

When my grandmother passed away in 2008, my mom inherited many things.  Some of that trickled down to me.  This paper was found in a pile of all sorts of interesting papers.  I couldn't let this get lost to time:  (typed as I found it written)

Chorus: The family of the sun
the family of the sun
Here are nine planets in
the family of the sun

1. Mercury is hot
and Mercury is small
Mercury has no atmosphere
It's just a rocky ball

Chorus

2. Venus has thick clouds
That hide what is below
The air is foul, the ground is hot
It rotates very slow

Chorus

3. We love the Earth our home,
It's oceans and it's trees
We eat it's food, we breathe it's air,
So "no pollution", please.

Chorus

4. Mars is very red
It's also growing cold
Someday you might visit Mars
if you are really bold

Chorus

5. Great Jupiter is big
We've studied it a lot
We found that it has fourteen moons
and a big red spot

Chorus

6. Saturn has great rings
We wondered what they were
Now we know they're ice rocks
Which we saw as a blur

Chorus

7. Uranus and Neptune
We don't know much about
Maybe you will study them
and then we'll all find out

Chorus

8. Pluto's last in line
It's farthest from the sun
It's small and cold and icy too,
to land there won't be fun.

Chorus

Tune: The Farmer in the Dell

From: "Exploring The Planets" exhibit,
Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.

(I wish there were a date printed on the page, but it is clearly typed up on a typewriter, and the paper is all yellowed.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Just Another Day

One night at dinner Devin was discussing his research.  I consider myself a fairly intelligent person with some skill at maintaining basic conversation but I will admit that sometimes when he gets particularly science-y, it's hard for all of us at the table to stay focused.  We try so hard though.

This night in particular, Heather was struggling.  She said in a low voice to me, "What is he even talking about?"

I caught Devin's eye as I responded, "He is telling us about something exciting that happened at work today."

Then I noticed the four blank little faces staring at me from their various positions around the table, and knowing that we would lose all four of them soon, I said, "Listen carefully, he is talking about Shopkins!"

(We don't actually own any Shopkins, so I'm not sure why this was the choice of toy that my brain came up with, but from the looks on their faces, it was going to work.)

Having satisfied them into silence again, and after watching their heads swivel back toward Devin, they seemed ready to give him another shot at being interesting.

Devin resumed his science talk.

A few minutes later a frustrated Hanna interrupted him.  "This doesn't sound anything like Shopkins."

These girls are never going to have to study for any chemistry test, ever, if they digest the words their daddy says at the dinner table.

If only.

--

One day, Hanna was telling me about her day, and a friend at school that she likes to talk to at recess.

"What do you guys talk about?"  I asked her, because I am really good at this mom thing.

"Um..."  she hesitated, thinking it over.  I tried to prompt her, "sunshine and flowers?" I suggested.

There was no response.  I waited for a moment, then tried again.  "Which boy is the cutest?"

This time the reaction was swift and severe.  Immediate shrieks and giggles broke out in the backseat.

I gave it my best interpretation and concluded, "So... you guys don't talk about boys?"

Hanna put on a very serious face, and used her strongest I'm A Big Kid voice.  "Mom, dad is the cutest boy for you!"  Each word was emphatically stated to remind me of this Very Important Truth.

"Oh, sure I know that." I reassured her.  "Daddy is definitely my favorite cute boy.  But, what do you think about boys?"

"Mom," she began, her voice clearly showing evidence of the strain it was for her to remain patient with me as she tried to explain.  "Cute boys are for falling in love."

"Hm, yes." I agreed, as she continued.

"And so!" her words were crisp and clear, she was not risking me getting confused again about this topic.  "if we talk about cute boys too much then we might think we are in love with them.  AND I," each word was now punctuated with importance, and my mom ears were perked and ready, "am. not. ready. for THAT. yet!"

I kind of wanted to give that speech a standing ovation.  "You are so right about that! Plenty of time."

My prayers were extra grateful that night.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

To Africa

Sometimes the world is tiny
as a hand
wrapped around a finger
and sometimes vast
as oceans, stars, and words
left unsaid: unspoken - unheard.
Hugging you now
I am caught
somewhere in between.
Squeezing you tightly
is never tight enough
to let you know
how much of my world you fill.
And holding you close
the clock is already
pulling you away
from me.
I do not know how
to let go
of you.
So I whisper
"I love you"
one more time.
But it cannot be said
Cannot be heard
In all the ways
I mean it.
It is that distance
between hearing and meaning
that crushes me
almost more than
the newly incomprehensible
distance of oceans
I love you - do you hear it
I love you - can you know it?
(Whatever you need from my love,
take it.
Strength, support, serenity.
It is yours on this adventure.)
I hold you tight
One last time
Then breathing slow
I somehow let go.



All their bags are packed, they're ready to go.

I feel really grateful to have had this summer full of memories with her.  Can't wait to visit her in Africa and make more.