Monday, March 29, 2010


So I mentioned in my last post that our home is full of laughter. Well, here is a picture of one of our most recent chuckles.

Eli really likes the sound of running water, so I often leave him on the bathroom floor while I shower since he's not rolling much. Imagine my shock when I opened the shower curtain and found him dressed thus! I guess next time I'll remember to place my unmentionables farther out of reach...

Happy Birthday, PB

May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter, our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion, a seal of happiness, here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name, an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe how spirit mingles in this marriage.

(Poem by Rumi; Text from Eric Whitacre's choral composition, This Marriage)

Jason turned thirty on Thursday. I've been at a loss as to what to write about my sweet hubby until I pondered these beautiful lyrics at choir rehearsal Saturday morning. It's impossible for me to think about Jason without reflecting on our smiling marriage. After all, it's through nearly seven years of marriage that I've come to really know this amazing man. (Coincidentally, this music was composed in commemoration of Eric Whitacre's seventh wedding anniversary.)

Thanks to a blessed spouse, our marriage has been blessed. It is full of laughter, compassion, happiness--our every day a day in paradise (if you can accept a healthy dose of mess and chaos along with it.) Indeed, I am out of words... words to describe Jason, and words to describe the deep love I feel for him.

And so instead, I'll share some evidence of his love for me. For Valentine's Day, Jason surprised me with a trip to visit my sister and her hubby in Seattle. Instead of choosing a convenient flight for him, he arranged for a direct flight to ease our travel, even though it means driving us all the way to Chicago before the crack of dawn. From Wednesday to Sunday, he's taking on all responsibility for the girls, tackling everything from swim lessons to Easter egg hunts on his own. What's more, this comes at tremendous personal sacrifice. Monetary sacrifice? Definitely. But even more is the sacrifice of time. When he bought the tickets, he knew exactly how intense his schoolwork would be. With less than a month until his final thesis design review, it's hard to imagine a more stressful time. Yet he made the arrangements anyway.

What can you write about a guy like that? I'm out of words to describe...

Happy Birthday, Peanut Butter. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Made in France

I'm sure that someday Eli will be absolutely mortified by this onesie we had made, but for the time being I think it's pretty darn funny.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

An Artist in the Making

Several weeks ago we received a delightful surprise in the mail: a book full of pictures from Brooklyn's classmates in Lyon. (Translation: For Brooklyn, From your French friends.)

I smiled when I realized that most of Brooklyn's girlfriends are now artfully sketching their names in cursive.

Lest you feel too troubled about your five year-old's penmanship, most of the boys are still block printing. (I like how both Quentin and Diane remember Brooklyn with long, flowing locks.)

In general, it's strange to think that Brooklyn's peers in France are completing their third year of formal education, yet here in the States she hasn't even started kindergarten. We love her preschool program, but there's a huge difference in abilities of a 3 and a 5 year-old. The weekly themes of "cookies", "ice cream", and "pajamas" are quite appropriate for Talia, but Brooklyn would certainly be capable of taking on more. I wish there were more leeway in our school system for parents to determine their child's school-readiness, instead of having it dictated by a random cut-off date. While she may have a December birthday, I think Brooklyn would have thrived in a kindergarten program this year. On the flip side, it's been nice to have more time with her at home.

In general, Brooklyn fills her days with art. Like her father, she loves to draw. Our house gets so overrun with pictures that I end up tossing most of them, just to stay ahead of the paper clutter. Today, however, I decided to photograph a few so that we have a permanent record. Brooklyn drew the following face on the back of an envelope. I immediately fell in love with the chin!

Not all of her faces are happy, however. When she gets angry, her artwork becomes equally emotive. (I found this picture in the trash can. Once her fury passes, she usually decides to get rid of her angry art as well.)

Looking at the frown reminded me of this project that Brooklyn did at her school in France. Imagine my horror when I walked into school and saw that all of the children had painted brightly smiling faces on their caterpillars--except Brooklyn. When I asked her why the "chenille" was sad, she told me that they made him take a nap without a binky.

A Brooklyn-style Valentine:

She must have run out of room for drawing people, because she added his portrait on the back, along with the following note: "I love u Dad but you missed family pictures."

It's amazes me that writing to Brooklyn is just as logical backwards as forwards. She wrote this note to Florian completely in reverse. (By the way, she's never met Florian--he's a new classmate who sent her a picture from France, and she liked his name.)

Here's another family picture. True to science, whenever she draws a rainbow, Brooklyn also dutifully includes both the sunshine and the rain.

Brooklyn dominates the party in this picture, where the presents are so massive that they have to be flown in by helicopter.

A close-up of Moses and the burning bush...

A ballerina..

And a reward chart. The chart involves a quite complicated system of iconography, in which bed-making eventually equates to ice cream and hot apple cider. The important thing to realize is that Brooklyn has to work her way up all the squares through good behavior before she earns a reward.

On the back, she drew a reward chart for me. Obviously, much less is expected. Perhaps that's because she wants to accompany me often when I claim my prize at McDonald's (the arches), Applebee's (an apple), or Curtis Orchards (a wagon).

Life with our little artist is certainly amusing. Now if I can just convince her to stop decorating herself...

Addendum: several days later, our tattoo queen adorned herself again with a ballpoint pen. I forgot all about it, however, until she was undressing at the pool for swim lessons. Despite my best efforts with a wet wipe, the art wouldn't come off. I'm not sure whether her teacher was amused or horrified. :)

Moving the World?

These past few days I've been catching up on labeling some photo albums. (I'm almost 18 months behind now, and determined to close the gap.) In going through old pictures, I ran across this one of the girls playing on a sculpture at Lyon's fantastic Parc Tete d'Or.

At first glance, this sculpture portrays a very happy thought--people working together to lift the world to a higher plane. A closer look, however, reveals that most of the world has been omitted. Sculpted in commemoration of the G7 summit, only these seven superpower nations are shown on the globe. Everyone else is cut. A rather arrogant view of life, in my opinion. Now here's the ironic part: these seven supermen may think they are lifting the world, but there's no fulcrum. Despite their muscle and might, the only thing being hoisted is their egos.

100 Donuts Down

Both Brooklyn and Talia have told me this last week, "Mommy, your tummy is getting smaller!" (Smile, smile.) Of course, Brooklyn immediately followed her compliment with: "I think it's as small it's going to get."

Not quite ideal, but quite possibly true. Either way, I'm happy with progress. Taking off the pregnancy weight has been a lot of work. I've discovered that I don't have much willpower when it comes to dieting, but I have been able to make healthier food choices in general. Our family has incorporated lots of fiber and many more fruits and veggies into our diet--a lifestyle change we plan to keep.

The real key, however, to my shrinking tummy has been moving more. Since starting to track my exercise in December, I've burned the equivalent of 103 donuts. (Visit if you want your own donut counter.) :) Having consumed only three donuts in that same time frame, I'm 100 donuts ahead. Yippee!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Pink Vampires

Brooklyn recently spawned a childhood romance. Last Thursday she left a church activity waving and yelling "I love you" to her new friend. (Of course, her loyalty is questionable. Rumor has it that she was caught cuddling with a different 5 year-old boy on Sunday.) Despite this fickleness, her affection has not gone unrequited. Her friend came over to play and asked if he could cut his sugar cookies out in a heart shape for Brooklyn. The couple chatted non-stop in their imaginary play world for the rest of the afternoon. It was nice to have some male influence in the house--we played vampires and robots instead of weddings and princesses. Of course, Brooklyn did insist that her vampire was white and pink...