Italy Part 2: Food, Beach, and more food

When we went looking for groceries to cook we discovered this cute little delicatesson. It had a coffee shop, bar, and bakery (patisserie) in it.

About every other morning one of us would walk their with the kids and let the other sleep in. I’m not sure which option was best cause well they both were awesome. Getting up early with kids, you say? Of course if you get  fresh-baked chocolate croissant with your authentic cappuccino and eat it outside on the terrace while the kids happily much away at there fresh-baked treats. Lovely. Then when we would head back we would make “2nd breakfast”.

J and I had the SAME. EXACT.THING. every morning. It was that good! We would put grilled prosciutto with fresh farmers market tomatoes, sliced pecorino cheese, and a fried egg (oe) all inside a freshly baked croissant. MMMMM! still miss those…. OH! with fresh basil, did I forget basil!?! The kids would get plain yogurt with farmers market nectarines in it, along with cereal. No, were not mean, that’s what they wanted and hey, it was vacation.

You heard right. The day we arrived there was a the weekly farmers market. As soon as we settled in I took a little jaunt over there and bought us some yummy fruits and veggies. One lesson learned, that I do recall learning last time too, was not to bother with the peaches, get loads of nectarines. Our first batch disappeared in 2 days and then we had to wait a whole week to get them again. And we did. ustrio Our last sunset by the beach, so sad. WE could have stayed here another week or two…sunset Desktop2

Italy Part 1: Sardinia here we come

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This little guy liked looking out the window at all the “panes”.

The view from our balcony, heaven:

The girls hit the beach right away. Vange did it Italian little girl style , with no top.

itaky vange One of our Italy must have’s is gelato. Our rule again was gelato every day. So much time to try all these flavors. Josiah once again had coffee every day, I had Dark chocolate and a 2nd different flavor every day. The kids all change it up.


Unlike last time, 2 years ago, where we hit a new beach every day, we stayed right on the beach so we walked everywhere and frequented the beach in our front yard and the same restaurant with this amazing pizza: balsamic, and prosciutto and a few cheezes….mmm.

water One afternoon I stayed back with T as he had a nasty cold and we rested. I sat out on the balcony and ate baguette and EVOO and salt and pepper with my daily glass of wine. And J took the other three exploring up the coast line to the old city. Lots of fun doors…

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wall doors door coast

This is from the dining area of our fav restaraunt, Vange liked to beach gaze while we waited for our “pizza by the meter”.

dreamer gelato The kids made a toilet out of sand, Vange was taking a potty break.
2013-08-30 12.02.01 2013-08-30 11.14.23 2013-08-28 18.59.57 2013-08-26 11.48.05One evening after I put the kids to bed I went to use the lady’s room and noticed something peculiar…you guessed it my goofy son.2013-08-23 23.21.23
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One thing that traveling sales people sold up and down the beach was all different sorts of swimsuit cover ups, I got a few and also got a brilliant idea. To save on luggage space in the future I could just pack a different cover up for every day of the week, and my swimsuit.

2013-08-22 17.30.38  To be continued…

Germany: lots of friends

Germany was filled with lots of friends from all over the world, some old lots new. But Malachi was by far the socially -ist butterfly of us all. He quickly found some friends and they HAD to be together every waking moment. They even would plan 7:30 AM breaky together unbeknownst to there parents. Needless to say all the moms eventually met too. It was cute to see them so intent on there plans and so committed to them, and it really reminded us of how much they were like their dads planning times to be together all week. Which was a strong reminder for me how much boys want to grow up and be just like there dad’s and how hard they try. Malachi’s spanned the globe from Indonesia to some “Stans”. It was so fun to see him thriving socially.
2013-08-16 18.06.14 If you noticed an extra little blonde curly head in there more than once its because most meals we had Chris along at out table to eat with Malachi. Lots of people thougth I had 5 kids cause they look so much alike and he was with us so much. Pretty fun!2013-08-17 17.12.59Malachi also got reunited with an old friend named Malachi, which was also fun.
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Arwyn got lucky and made best friends with a girl that was right  next to us in our hotel. One of there favorites was hopping over our balcony fence to the grassy area below and running around playing together. Ultimately it was knights and princeses every time.2013-08-17 17.47.04The second week we were there Arwyn’s fav friend was Olivia. YOu coudl see them hugging at any given moment they were so excited to be together.

2013-08-20 13.29.15 Vange had a hard time being away from us so much and making friends but what she did love was singing and dancing in worship together. This girls got swag.2013-08-17 20.11.26And she did manage to make a good friend the second week, who happened to be Olivia’s younger sister.

2013-08-20 13.29.53One of my favorite times was going out with two friends that live here in India with me. Steph below had her parents and the hotel also and they had come form England. So he tossed her the keys to his British car on our way out to get a bite to eat together. As we walked out I commented on how brave she was, and she promptly handed me the keys and said I was gonna be the brave one. How did she know she could eventually talk me into this? Not only was teh steering wheel on the opposite side of the car but in Germany you drive on the other side of the road, double weird! we had a blast tho, giggling like school girls as I drove away and made them promise to split any ticket with me.
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Switzerland Part 3: berries and beauties

The last day we were with our friends in Switzerland I spent some time capturing the beauty in the house and out of it. I just love these old stoves and very “Swiss” curtains
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In the reading room I found this treasure. Malachi is totally into Tintin, Asterix, and Calivin and Hobbes now. He saves his allowance to but Tintin books for himself and his friends. When I saw this vintage Tintin book in french I hollard at Malachi to come take a look. I think He would have begged for it from Uncly Antione if it hadn’t been in french.

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When I looked at things around the house it totally reminded me of IKEA, which it should 🙂2013-08-10 08.24.30


I had to take a pick of this beautiful picture of Marie. The last evening we were able  to sit down with Evelyn and she shared more of the story about how Marie died. One sad part was that it had just been her birthday and she was working on it so they were going to celebrate the next evening, but she dies the night before. It was an intimate tear filled conversation a that J translated to me since she was speaking in french, the language of her heart. ” I have always felt that my precious children were only loaned to me for a short time, and to make my time with them worthwhile.” This struck me so much that as I continued my journey to stop yelling I thought a great injection of perspective in my home would be to make each kid a t-shirt that said “I’m on loan”. A constant reminder walking around the house. Feel free to check if I have done it 🙂

2013-08-10 08.26.54One of the kids favorite things to do was pick the berries in the front yard. Our first night we had them on a little swiss pastry with some cream. MMMMMM. The rest of the time they just gobbled them right from the bush.

2013-08-10 08.29.04This is the beautiful view from their front yard. The last day all the rain and fog cleared up and you could see the snowy peaks ahead. Breathtaking!
2013-08-10 08.29.17And here is one more of the little chalet…

2013-08-10 08.30.47And one more of journey up the mountain in the Gondola.

2013-08-09 12.11.47Switzerland was so special. Being with brand new friends that felt like long time family, seeing green lush beauty all around and eating delicious food.

Some of our favorite food here was this great honey in the raw. It was thick and creamy and we brought some home with us and sent a jar to Grandma for her birthday. We just finished it last month. But every morning we had thick great slices of fresh bread toasted w honey. The night of Vange’s birthday dinner we had fondue. Traditionally you take a little shot of liquor made from cherries halfway thru the meal to cleanse your palette. Everyone was secretly watching for my reaction when we downed our shots. But you’d be glad to know I didn’t flinch one bit. Even though my throat was on fire…

Wine and cheese, bread and cheese, wine and bread… pretty much every meal. How can you go wrong?

The next day was a teary goodbye to our special friends.

And on to Germany.

Switzerland Part 2: Vange’s 4th Birthday

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On Vange’s birthday we took a train to the gondola. We rode the gondola up to the top of the mountain. It was foggy and rainy and we couldn’t see much but we could hear the cow bells below when we would pass over a heard. Taron was sleeping in a stroller so we squeezed him in and crammed around him

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This is at the top, it was quite chilly.

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On on our way back down we walked back to the train station and sun peeked out so I forced Vange to take a pic with her cute dress in front of this Lavender, for a birthday shot.

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When we got back to the house we got cozy again and Evelyne and I set about getting the house party ready. They ordered a nice cake for the big 4 year old.

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As her usual self Vange bonded well with grandpa Antione, At any given moment you could hear them bantering back and forth and him calling her ” My princesessa?”

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Antione and Evelyne live a charming old parish that overlooks a great beautiful lawn.

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Summary of Summer & Switzerland: Part 1

Well Haven’t I been MIA!? Every day this summer I had working out  and 3 hours of language in my regular routine. It was such a tight schedule and I had to work to be disciplined, which was my goal to grow in this year. And then in August we had this awesome pay off! Vacation in Switzerland, Germany and Italy 🙂 Instead of doing the longest post ever, like I did 2 years ago for Italy I will break it up in chunks. But first here are a few things crammed into that madness: Taron liked to work out with me in the morning: and wrestle in the afternoon: 2013-05-07 09.11.02 After I came home from language Josiah would head out to a 45minute jaunt across the city to his language lesson in 118 + weather with no AC. He is trooper! Here is the last leg of his journey by scooter :

And He would sit into  his Language helpers brother lil shop, here are the three below: 2013-05-14 15.44.41 Unexpectedly in May Josiah’s God daughter was kidnapped in Switzerland and killed by a convicted murder out on house arrest. He was able to go last minute and comfort this second Family that he joined back in College when he lived in France with them for a year. Here is a article in french about her, Marie. She was Vanges age when he became her God Father, 4. He would walk her and her older sister to school every day when he lived with them. She would nap on his stomach in the afternoon each day. The month before she died she was in CA visiting her sister and said that she was going to try to find Josiah again, cuz they had lost contact. This was hard news to hear.2013-05-28 11.55.27 Here He is with her parents and sister in Switzerland. 2013-05-28 14.24.04 When he returned, the precious moments in life were especially piognant and he was delighted to be hosted by Vange to a tea party in her own room. She “fancied” herself right up and I helped her make a nice spread to serve her Handsome guest. 2013-05-31 18.29.34 2013-05-31 18.31.19 Malachi and Arwyn took turns getting dread braids together. 2013-06-11 18.20.14 Then A headed off to her first camp away from home, up in the hills of “doon” with a best friend , Lily. 2013-06-02 15.20.21 2013-06-02 15.23.36 When she returned she turned 8! Arwyn’s 8th birthday with our friend Emily and the traditional firework candle:

2013-06-27 18.12.44 On a trip to Delhi we found and Amazing Thai Restaraunt in an unlikely neighborhood! YUM! 2013-06-20 18.15.30 Josiah’s first Rickshaw : a business venture. 2013-07-04 16.40.47 The kid’s first day at a new school, Vange’s first school experience ever! 2013-07-23 07.51.53 A previous friend that lives close by becomes a new best friend now that they are in the same class, cute little Zoya. 2013-07-25 19.07.38 And now with the sibs off to school, this guys first time being an only child for the morning. look at those chubby legs 🙂 2013-07-31 11.10.48 Right before we left for Europe we welcomed Monsoon: 

Then we were off to Switzerland! 2013-08-08 12.12.00 2013-08-08 12.12.46 2013-08-08 12.06.37 2013-08-08 14.00.41 2013-08-08 13.02.10 2013-08-08 14.00.16 2013-08-08 13.59.54 2013-08-08 13.57.38 2013-08-08 13.57.48 This man has a new leaning toward Jazz, so he was delighted to pose by the lakeside statue of Miles Davis, If only we could have stayed for the 3 day Jazz Festival… 2013-08-08 13.55.46 2013-08-08 12.42.33 And a sneak peak into the beginning of a 4 year old’s birthday on August 9. Nothing like starting your morning off right with decadent swiss hot coco in a quaint little cafe. If only I could start every day off here… 2013-08-09 10.44.46 The birthday gets its its own post… stay tuned. (This will probably be part 1 of a 10 part series… no joke!)

Bringing back Christmas

For years, even before we moved to India, I would find myself in the middle of the holiday season surrounded by insanity and feeling like “ something is all wrong here”. If Christmas is all about Jesus then why would I find myself giving in to the pressure and stress of getting the best gifts for people? Why would this attitude and underlying value to be praised or thanked be underneath most of what I spent my time on and thought about? Searching for the perfect gift, fighting for the best price so I didn’t break the bank. Where was Jesus in my thoughts and reflections other than on the actual 25th when we read the Christmas story?

When J and I got married we started doing Advent, something his family did together. Each Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas they lit a new candle that symbolized Jesus, reciting a verse about Jesus being God (John 1:1), Jesus being human (John 1:14), Jesus is King (Matthew 2:2), Jesus is servant (Mark 10:45), and Christmas day the last candle was Jesus is without sin (Luke 1:35).

When we started having kids we saw how overwhelmed with presents they got and this teamed up with all the Santa propaganda they saw around town in America. Billboards, songs, radio, toy ads on TV, Santa movies etc.,   making all the presents on Christmas day the focus. We started asking family to limit the gifts, we stuck to just one from us. But we still saw a trend growing that the greatest thing to look forward to was after breakfast opening all our gifts. Not Jesus.

Last year as we were back in the US for the Holidays we saw this trend again. Even though we repeated over and over the real meaning of Christmas was Jesus, our values and time and money really reflected another. If we really wanted to succeed in this we might have to make a bigger sacrifice than would be comfortable.

Last year we talked about how in Mexico, where J grew up they celebrate Kings day. People dress up as the 3 kings and give gifts. There are many customs that have been added along the way. But Kings day is on the 12th day of Christmas, January 6. We toyed with idea of separating presents from Christmas. We still liked the idea that just like the Magi we give gifts to people to celebrate the GIFT that God gave us in Jesus.

We came across the Jesse tree last year also and really like the anticipation that is built as you read each story beginning with creation that points to the birth and gift of Jesus.

Isaiah 1:1-2 promises:
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; 
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— 
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, 
the Spirit of counsel and of might, 
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—

So on the day after Thanksgiving when traditionally we set up our tree and bring out our Christmas decorations, we ate breakfast and talked about the changes that were coming to Christmas this year. We talked about how in America Christmas has become about getting stuff and breeds greed and distraction from what the gift and “magic” of Christmas is really about. We talked about how along with our advent calendar we would read a Jesse tree story and hang an ornament on the tree that symbolizes that story. And we talked about how on Christmas morning we would give them stockings of a few fun little things to open and then the real joy of Christmas we would go out together and give to the community. Because we have this gift God gave us, and we want to share a glimpse of that joy with those that are still in the darkness. We talked about Kings day in January and how on that day we would celebrate Jesus still by giving gifts to eachother, no more than three. And between Josiah and I we would make sure that what we spent on our family did not exceed what we spent on others for our Christmas day service. We feel that what we spend our money on is reflective of our values and our children learn from this even when we don’t say anything.

But what does this mean for Christmas parties and friends that want to give toys and books galore? This is where it might get uncomfortable, cause it impacts more than our family. And as we all know many people have strong sentimental value attached to the giving of “stuff”. But what we have noticed over the years is something more meaningful, giving the gift of time, a special outing together, some intention brought to a “date” or an outing, where you listen and share, laugh and grow together. This is long remembered and cherished above the toy that will be broken or forgotten up in the closet in a few months.

In leu of any gifts people want to give our kids they can give money towards our Christmas day service project. This year we will most likely buy a bunch of blankets and take them to the railroad tracks where all the homeless sleep. Many die in the winter months without adequate warmth. We will be saving up money all month to go purchace as many blankets as we can for Christmas nights handout. Or people can give the gift of time. Take A out on a coffee date and be a good listener, invest in her. Or take M to the park and kick around a football with him. Bake cookies with V, spend some time getting into their world and heart. That would be a gift to remember!

We are really excited about pruning back “X-mas” and bringing back CHRISTmas. We want our kids to know what it is they are really celebrating and be able to explain that to people who don’t know. We want there joy to come from the celebration of the gift Jesus. And we really believe the greatest thing they will get this Christmas is the joy that comes when we serve people, love people. People that desperately need it and that can’t give in return.