Monday, October 23, 2017


I was supposed to go to yoga this morning.  I was dressed, I was ready.  Hazel was dressed, Hazel was ready.  We filled up our water bottles, we grabbed her applesauce (and a spoon: bonus!) and then I was grabbing Hallie's violin (that she forgot: surprise!) to drop off at school on the way and suddenly Hazel was sobbing. Big fat tears were rolling down her cheeks, and I didn't know why.   Sobbing, shoulders heaving, sadness in every sound and movement she was making.  Finally, she took a deep breath and managed to tell me, "I just, I just want you, Mommy."

At first I tried to reason.  I tried to encourage.  I tried to bribe. And then, with her little hand in mine, we took Hallie's violin and came back home and I asked Hazel what she wanted to do today, with me.  "Ride my bike around the block" was her excited reply, which made my heart hurt because it was something I had promised to do with her on Friday after finishing the laundry.  Of course we ran out of time, and then I told myself we would do it on Saturday.  And then of course I told myself we would do it on Sunday.  Here we were, four days later and all that little girl wanted in the whole world was to go on a bike ride with her mom.

I've been crying again lately about not having any more babies in my home or in my arms.  I am pretty reasonable about it most of the time. Cleaning through my closet a few days ago I found a bag full of baby items that I purchased years ago, convincing myself that they would be gifts for friends who have babies.  But friend after friend had babies and I could not bring myself to let them go.  Maybe I'll get there someday, but on this Monday even though I really wanted to be at yoga, I realized (again, this recurring lesson I keep needing) that yoga will be there next week, and the week after that.

But Hazel?  The way she was today, on that bike, with this weather?  This will never happen for me again.  Like her older sisters before her, she will be off and away and I will be left, home alone, with a pile of brand new baby toys that I never gave away.

The wind was blustery and it rained on us for about half our ride, but we stopped and picked up a friend and had some good talks on the way.

"Sonja! Sonja! I have to tell you something! One time, my dad went to the grocery store. And he forgot his watch. So he didn't even know what time it was!"

"Mom! Mom! Is this a stick... or a dead worm?" Which led to a long and thoughtful, in the way of 3 year olds, conversation about how worms die.

"Mom! Stop!! I need that stick! Could you grab it for me, and carry it for me please?!" (This stick actually was a stick.  She has named it "Sticky" and says it belongs in her bedroom.)

Last night as we snuggled before bed she told me in a very solemn voice, "Mom, it's really hard being three."

Last Monday we were driving home from our quick trip out to Utah for Uncle Ken to get married to Aunt Kathryn.  The weather was lovely, and so were the bride and groom.  I don't have an abundance of love in my heart for Utah, but Temple Square did soften it a little.  Thanks for a great weekend, Rose Family!

Two Mondays ago my mom and dad were in town, and Devin was out of town.  That Monday morning was brisk and chilly, the wind hard at work pulling leaves and swirling them around before dropping them lightly on the still green grass.  My mom and I had plans, and our plans had plans, and we were planning to make more plans.  She took my car and drove my girls to school and then stopped by Hy-Vee to pick up some things necessary for carrying out our plans.  This is what we do when she comes to visit.

I was in the kitchen, trying to get three things started so we could get a jump on our plans.  That was our plan so everything could be rolling along smoothly when she got home with the items needed for our other plans.  It's exhausting to be my mom and me when she comes to visit.

I was still in my pajamas, bouncing around the house trying to think five steps ahead but never sure where I actually was at any given moment when I heard my phone ring.  I had no idea where my phone was, so on and on it rang and I was elbow deep in apples.  Or tomatoes. Or strawberries.  Or... probably a bit of all three, actually.  I was feeling guilty for not going along to help my mom get the carpet cleaning supplies, but she was a grown woman and surely could handle it.  But, a gasp of breath and stalled movement: What if she were the one that had been calling?

My dad, in the other room, already working on his computer, answered his phone when it began ringing.  I could tell it was my mom.  I could tell there was trouble.  "Locked out? Ok, I'll get the keys to our car and come get you... oh, you have the keys to that car too?  Ok, well, um... we'll come get you somehow..."

My ears were keen and I already had my shoes on.  "Tell mom I'll come on Devin's bike with the other set of keys!" I told my dad.  He hurried outside to see me off.

"I wish I had..." I began to say, then trailed off.  He finished for me, "some gloves?"

"No," I said, "I don't remember what I was thinking, but I'll be fine."  And off I rode, speeding along, my legs pumping faster than probably ever in my life.  'I'm coming, mother!' the mantra in my mind.

The wind was truly brisk, pushing at my back and it wasn't long before I realized gloves would have been nice.  And my phone, too.  Ah well, the world lay before me and I knew I could conquer it if I had but a stout heart and a stern determination to be a hero.

Faster and faster I rode, up hills and down, and don't laugh at what we call hills here in Nebraska.  I was feeling that burn in my legs but my momma needed me and when she calls, I come pedaling.

I pulled into the parking lot and there she was, and my vision must have gone funny because it looked like she had been sitting inside the car.

I rode around and hopped off my bike, reaching into my pocket to get out the keys and hand them to her.  She came around to hug me and said, "So, funny thing is... the door wasn't actually locked.  I just, I thought it was, so..."

With a laugh and a whoop I hopped back on my bike, and waving to my mom I rode home again, my fingers numb and my cheeks chilled.  Do you have to actually save someone to be a hero?


Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Two of my four daughters are wrestling.  It is fine at first, giggling and silly.  They are enjoying themselves.  Then it seems to get more violent and one sister doesn't want to wrestle anymore.  She wants to go ask mom if she can have a cookie.  "No," she says.  "Enough," and "Stop!"

She should be allowed to say those words no matter how consensual the activity seemed when they started.  AND they should still mean something because she hasn't already said them 5 times, giggling to show she really meant, "this is great!"

But even if she had done that, those words should still, should ALWAYS mean enough for her sister to stop, and say, "hey, should we see if mom will let us have cookies, or should we keep wrestling?"

Then the sister can answer, "Cookie!" or, "Keep wrestling, but not so rough.  You were hurting me."

I think it should be easy to extrapolate that to an adult situation, although I literally wrote it as an example of what happens in my home.  With my four young daughters.

Here's another one I used to see a lot around here, but doesn't happen as often anymore:

My oldest daughter standing motionless in the center of the room, seemingly helpless, sobbing - while her younger sister (for whatever reason?!) gleefully is hitting and punching her.  Obviously I pull the younger one away, and she faces consequences.  But it terrifies me what I saw the older one NOT doing, and I knew it was because I had taught her it was "not ok" to hit her sister.  I had to retrain her.

It is NOT ok to hit your sister, that's why the younger one was in trouble at that moment.  But if she comes along swinging at you, run away if you can!  Come find me!  Make. Her. Stop.  You do not have to be a victim right here in this scenario.  I try to get her to understand that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself because no one will be coming along to save you.

We have since come up with the following steps in our family for when someone won't respect your space/leave you alone physically:

1. Ask/Tell them to stop
2. Move yourself away from them
3. Find Mom, Dad, Teacher, or other safe adult and tell them what happened
4. Hit them as hard as you can
5. Bite, Kick, Scream

With each number increase is the responding action to an increase in the invasive behavior.  This is the response in our home to be followed by minor irritations like a sister sitting too close on the couch, or repeatedly tapping your arm.

I have told my girls when in the car and I can't help them, and they have tried asking the person to stop (#1) and they can't move away (#2) to jump to #5 when and if it becomes necessary - using smart discretion for when that moment happens.  In the car when possible I tell them just to look out the window and completely ignore the offending person.  But depending on what that person is doing to them, there comes a time when #5 is necessary.

I have also told them to jump straight ahead in the list if they are ever scared, or uncomfortable with the way someone is touching them or talking to them - again, using their discretion for what is necessary.  Moving away, coming to tell me, kicking and fighting back.

I also try to help them understand there are different levels of offense, that require different responses.  A sister breathing your air and looking at the same book as you is different than a sister who sits on top of you and won't stop tickling you.  There will come a day when the situations may be more severe with boyfriends or strangers or co-workers or whoever and they need to figure out appropriate actions.  I can only hope I have given them the tools and made them brave enough to fight back when possible or speak up about it.

Another lesson I teach my girls who were on the other end of the irritating behavior is that it is NOT OK to ignore someone's requests when it comes to their own personal space and bodies.  You do not get to touch other people if they do not want you to.  This is something girls have to be taught, not just boys.  In my research to know how to talk to and protect my girls from harassment/assault I have learned it is not always just that man on the corner of the street, or that boy at the party, or even the creepy older brother at the sleepover.  Often, it comes from another girl at the sleepover, or on the playground, or in the locker room.

I tell my girls it doesn't matter WHO is touching them in ways they don't like - STOP means NOW and to always, always tell me about it.  Even, and especially if, that person doesn't want you to tell anyone about it.

One last real scenario from my home: We have a loop of kitchen, hallway, front entrance, dining room, and back to kitchen.  A frequent activity in my home is running laps of this loop.  They count how many they can do, and sometimes in the cold of winter it's just running for the sake of running.

But sometimes, sometimes one sister finds herself being chased by another.  Sometimes at first its a fun game, much like the wrestling, but eventually she gets tired and wants to stop.  She should be allowed to.  But what I see most often is the one being chased just continues to run, crying at the other to "Stop chasing me!"  Sometimes I can tell the one sister being chased doesn't even know how she found herself running, afraid of what's coming behind.  In both cases, the cries of "stop" are coming from a place of real distress.

In this case, I usually talk to the sister being chased first.  "Stop running!" I tell her.  "She can't chase you if you aren't running!"  What my girls sometimes forget is that it isn't always a lion chasing a gazelle.  She is, in this moment, safe in her home with her mother nearby.  If she stops running, that sister will have no one left to chase.

What I want my girls to know as they get older is that they are NOT things to be chased.  Not by anyone, not by boys, unless they want to and it is a mutually agreed upon enjoyable activity.  And whatever that "chasing" means, whether it is a literal frolicking in the park, or flirtations, flowers, gifts, phone calls, etc., she should be allowed to decide if she wants them to continue, or not.  And when she wants it to stop, she needs to be brave enough to turn, look the person in the eye and say, "please stop chasing me."

I realize that sometimes out in the cold, mean world in the ugly hearts of humanity there really are lions who think of girls as gazelles and will enjoy terrifying them in a cruel chase.  I don't know exactly how to protect my girls from people like that.  But I think most of the people they encounter will, I hope, be those that have been taught all of these same lessons by their mothers, fathers, teachers, and can recognize boundaries and communication.  And if it is a lion that ever comes after one of my girls, I want her to either fight hard, so that whoever is hurting her has no easy conscience - they will know that she was not compliant - OR I want her to be brave enough afterward to speak about her truth, to give the collective gazelles a chance to hunt down that lion once and for all.

Just this morning I had an upset daughter because she decided she wanted the same sunglasses that another sister was wearing.  She kept squealing, "But I wanted them! I really wanted them!"  It reminded me of when they had a new baby sister come home and it would be about not sunglasses, but giving baby sister hugs and kisses.   A sister would start to kiss baby, but she would want to give too many, and baby would be done with all that.  Or she would want to give hugs, but hug too roughly and baby would be done being squeezed.  They would tell me, "But I want to keep hugging/kissing her!"

This morning in the car with the sunglasses chaos I heard myself saying what I know I have said a hundred times, and will probably continue to say - but I hope and pray eventually it will sink into their minds.

"It's fine for you to want those sunglasses (to hug her and kiss her).  Wanting that is not the problem.  But just because you want that, doesn't mean you get to have them."

"(and in the past, I would have continued with: With baby, crying and squirming is her only way of telling us that she doesn't like what is happening to her.  We have to watch and listen to understand what she needs.  You don't get to keep kissing her just because you want to.")

And last but not least, is the way we talk about what we have done to other people.  "I hit her because she made me so mad!"  "She wouldn't give me what I wanted, so that's why I hit her!"  As adults, we say these things too, putting the blame on someone else, because their actions were such that we were forced to feel and do something that we now regret.  I tell my girls that when they do that, they are giving power away - they are giving away their power to choose how they feel and what they do.  I know this is something I am working on too, taking ownership of my actions, even my thoughts and feelings.

"I'm sorry for what I said, but the dress she was wearing..." or, "I know I shouldn't have, but she looked..." need to be replaced by, "I'm sorry I disrespected you..." or, "I know I shouldn't have said that, I'm sorry..." and I think we need to teach our children that language when they are young, by our examples, by teaching them accountability for their actions. We all, children and adults alike need to own up to our actions and not shirk from it by hiding behind what someone else has done or said.

My girls are not a thing to be chased.  They have ownership of their own bodies.  People get to change their minds and should not be shamed for doing so.  Let's watch and listen more carefully to understand what people want and need.  What someone else WANTS never trumps what you NEED when it comes to your own body.  We are responsible for our own actions and words.  Not anyone else, no matter how they are dressed, what they have said, what they have done.  What someone else says or does to my daughters only makes a statement about THAT person.  It says nothing about who my daughters are.

My last thoughts on this topic come from the words of this song:

"Walk tall, you're a daughter, a child of God
Be strong, please remember who you are.
Try to understand,
You're part of His great plan.
He's closer than you know
Reach up, He'll take your hand."

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.)

Part 3: Spa Day will be coming soon!


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