Sunday, July 8, 2018

France.

I keep waiting for the right time to write about France... a time when I will be able to really sit and write something meaningful about our brief trip to Annecy last month. It hasn't shown up, or rather, I haven't made the time, so tonight I'm going to record a few things on here because I have missed recording a number of events in our life because I wanted to wait until I had enough time, and then never did.

So, tonight I'm embracing the idea that "done is better than perfect" and here we are :)

We went to France last month! We booked our tickets only 5 weeks prior to leaving because we found an insane deal and transported our little family of 5 to Europe during summer for right around $300 per person. I often get asked how we find cheap flights, and I actually have a separate post written about that, but basically, we wait until we find a price to a destination we can't miss, and then we just go for it and buy the tickets. Both of our trips to Europe in the last year were planned that way. I found a good price (I was looking, of course) and when an opportunity presented itself we said "yes". Thankfully, Josh's job has the freedom and flexibility to say yes, but that is how we find good deals, generally.


This good deal, though, had an 18-hour layover in Iceland. Which, as I reflect, I wouldn't do again. Iceland isn't a great place for layovers. The airport is so far from the city, and Reykjavik is just outrageously expensive. Truly. and cold, my goodness so cold! We had bigger plans for our time there than we were able to actually implement because when traveling with small children a certain level of "going with the flow" and reading what everyone needs and responding appropriately is necessary. So rather than drive to a waterfall, we mostly hung out in Reykjavik and ended up getting a hotel to wait out the last 8 hours of our layover and get as much sleep as we could. If I can avoid a layover like that in the future, I absolutely will. If it is the difference between going to Europe with my family or not going to Europe with my family, you will find me in Reykjavik for another weird, lawless 18-hour layover.





When we finally arrived in Annecy, it was raining. We wandered the quiet streets with the girls who were completely exhausted and emotional. I was feeling a bit drained if I'm being honest, and had the thought, "Why did we come here? Are we crazy? Couldn't we have just stayed home at a lake house and everyone would have had a very restful week? What if it rains all week? What if this was a mistake?". Still, we were happy to be there and called it a night early. (Sleep always helps) I woke up to Nora throwing up a few hours later, and again started our day with her puking on the cushion our airbnb host so generally left us. I was again, very worried that now we would all be sick for the week.



But the sun was shining and I decided that I would take Ruby and Piper out for a walk. I had a text from our host saying there was a local farmers market on our street, so we decided to check it out. We left the door of our apartment, took a left, and there was a market. A real, French market with real people purchasing real produce for their real kitchens. There were flowers and trinkets and bakeries and shops open and the historic part of town was bustling. I had a little girl holding both of my hands and a new floral dress on and the morning was perfect. It wasn't a mistake to bring them there. It wasn't a mistake at all. It was difficult, yes, it was, but walking through the market that morning is one of my happiest memories ever. Looping around and walking by the river and lingering as we watched the ducks struggle upstream. I see the pictures and I ache for that moment again. I will always wish to go back to that moment.



We returned to the apartment and Nora was making an amazing recovery. By 11am, all 5 of us were on the street enjoying the market. You cannot imagine my gratitude over her quick recovery and over the fact that whatever bug that had reared its head was gone and didn't show up in anyone else. Honestly, it was a small miracle considering we were traveling and sharing drinks and food the entire way.







The rest of the week was a delight. We wandered. Ate crepes, macarons, and so much gelato. We drank espresso, wine in the window of our apartment, and played in parks. We weren't doing anything ridiculously French, you know? We were living our lives as we do here, but it was so special and heightened and enjoyable in such a beautiful place. I was able to practice my French a bit and felt confident that, by the end of the week, my "bonjour" was convincing enough to make me seem native ;-) (I do happen to think I have a decent French accent, actually.)






And unlike most vacations where I come home feeling fulfilled and satisfied; my wanderlust and taste for travel satiated, coming home from Annecy has been difficult. I want to go back. I told Josh the other day that I would sell our house now and just travel for the next year if he wanted to. Of course, I didn't really mean it, I suppose, but I would consider it strongly. It wasn't enough for some reason this time. I want to go to Switzerland. So much so that I would drain a bank account to go back in an instant. It is just so bizarre for me, and I've been turning that feeling around in my head over and over again. Why wasn't it enough? What is it that makes me want to go back? We have markets here in our hometown, surely they are just as special? No, they aren't. Yes, the river flowing through our little town with its own ducks and swans indeed has less magic than the river in Annecy. So the fight for contentment continues. The understanding that even traveling full time won't fill whatever it is I'm looking for when I'm there.



But I loved it. I loved it there. I loved sharing it with Josh and with my girls. I have this sense that we should have done more, we should have seen more, we should have driven further, we should've skipped our flight home ;-) But that is only because when something is really, really good... I just want more of it.

So I want more of it. I hope to go back next summer, but this time head to Switzerland. I live in fear that nothing is promised - not next summer, not anything. It is a huge motivator for me to say yes to most things, but it's also an easy way to make unwise and emotional decisions. So, I have pictures printed from this little magical week we shared and they are placed throughout the house. My favorite picture from my favorite moment of the trip is in a small, 5 x 7 frame on top of my microwave, next to the toaster. I stare at it every time I make toast or warm something up, and I remember how perfect it was. For a moment, I'm transported back there and I'm not just waiting for toast, I'm at the foot of Mont Blanc with my babies and my husband and a waterfall and not a soul around or a soul who knows where we are.



and then the toast pops up and I'm home, again, our home that we love, too. and I suppose it is very much enough to carry such joyful memories and to live in such a joyful place, too.



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

It is bedtime.

It is bedtime
and his lap is full of our girls
and they are laughing and choosing
Shel Silverstein poems one by one
as the golden hour summer sunlight
streaks down the hall.
Our hearts and tummies are full from
dinner and bike rides
and I decide right then that
I will remember this moment
when things are hard.
When they are maybe scanning me for sickness some day decades from now
or I am heartsick over a catastrophic loss
or I feel I can't go on.
I hope I close my eyes and
see the streaks of golden light
and the smiles on their faces
and the closeness of their bodies
and I that I will still consider the pain of life
and all we must endure
to be an adequate trade
for this moment of pure joy.




Friday, March 9, 2018

A few things (I think) I'm doing right.

You watch me put make up on and ask for some. I oblige, show you the sparkles that cover your eyelids, and say, "It's fun to put this sparkly make up on, but what's the most important thing we need to get ready before we leave the house? Our hearts. Are they ready to be kind and loving?"

You lay in your bed. I kneel next to it, caressing your forehead and whispering over and over and over, "You are so important in our family. You belong with us. You will always belong here. I can't imagine our family without you. I'm the luckiest mom in the world because God chose you to be in my life. Our family wouldn't be the same without you. You are so important me - to us. You belong here."

You eat dinner and it is the exact duplicate of what we've just dropped off at my grandma's house as she recovers from her hospital stay. We talk about how it feels good to get new things and clothes and toys, but the best feeling? The very best? is doing something kind for others, like bringing them a meal to help their body heal and their soul to feel loved.

You ask me how my workout was. I say it was good because it has made my heart and my body healthier and stronger than they were before. You will never hear the word calorie come out of my mouth. You will never hear me talk bad about my body.

You like snuggles to fall asleep. The books and doctors and podcasts say not to, but I'm Your Mom, and I know that the recipe to a healthy heart for you includes snuggles at bedtime. If I don't want you to harden, then I have to meet you where you are soft.

I catch your eyes in the rearview mirror. I wink, stick out my tongue, and wave. No one else sees it, but you smile.

I reach my hand behind my driver's seat. You are right behind me, so I gently tickle your ankle because I know gentle, loving Tickles are your love language. No one else sees it. I can feel you relax.

You're playing and glance over at me.  I give you a tiny thumbs up. Our thumbs up (meaning, my thumb basically still laying flat on my fist). You return it and resume playing.

You come down the stairs first thing in the morning. I stop whatever I'm doing and open my arms. Palms-turned-out-elbows-wide-open, open. They close around you. Your day begins wrapped in my love.

---

I know myself and I know that I will spend many years of my life wishing I had done better in this season.... wishing that I had done more. That I had been more present, patient, emotionally available. Wishing that I had been more fun and more playful. I know that I will give my Past Self grace (as I already do). I will imagine me telling me that I did my best, that it was enough at the time, that where I fail, God can fill in the gaps. So I needed to take a moment to remember, that there are some things... some things that I'm doing right.