Tuesday, December 18, 2007

we had our first snow flurries last night; for some reason this strangely excites me (is that just because I have always lived in snowless Mexico, Texas and California? or does that happen to even regular snow dwellers?) And this morning, all snow vanished, we took a family trip to the Malachai's school to make up the parent teacher meeting that I completely forgot about last week (ummm . . . the one in which I was planning to apologize to Clara for slacking in so many of my parent responsibilities this school year). Clara expressed some concern that Malachai was having a hard time sitting and finishing his class work, and she wondered if maybe this was the result of him not attending class in the afternoon. have I mentioned this before? Although most Spanish children attend class from 9-4:30 (with an hour and a half break for lunch), Joshua and I have decided to send our boy to class only in the mornings - - a decision that, although scandalous among teacher and parent alike, the school has permitted us since legally, a child is not required to be escolarizado ("schooled") until he is six years old. Clara has been nudging and prodding towards us bringing Malachai in the afternoon for a while now, and although we still think it best to have him home with us in the afternoons, we did assure her that we will be working with him at home with some more structured activities. This seemed to satisfy Clara . . . and she was gracious about the missed appointment.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

on becoming Spanish

remember this?
this bonnet (along with its matching sweater) was one of the treats we pulled out of the bag.
look at my little Spanish baby girl!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the news tonight . . .

out of every ten Christmas letters written by Spanish children , three are written to Santa Clause, and seven are written to one of the three kings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Last week Malachai's teacher, Clara, asked us to make a list of ways that we celebrate Christmas in the United States so that the class could learn about Christmas in other counties. So we made the list, AND
Last night Malachai and I made gingerbread men to send along with the list.
As we mixed and rolled and cut, we chatted; he was so cute! he was giddy - - telling me he couldn't wait till the other kids tasted them - - that they would say to him "oh Malachai! que buenos!"
and we also practiced:
"what are they called in Spanish?" - - hombres de jengibre
"what if someone says 'yuck! this is disgusting!' ?" - - no pasa nada!
I listened to Malachai pray with Joshua tonight, and I heard him say "thank you, God, for helping me to remember to say 'no pasa nada' (no big deal) to Andy today when he said that he didn't like the cookies"
I'm glad we practiced; I'm glad God reminded him!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

feeling the love

even Josu known it's something to celebrate; when he sees the mailman at the door with a package in hand . . . he runs to the package, arms held wide calling SI! SI! SI!

yes, we've received that many wonderful, generous, creative, exciting care packages this past month; we are loved, we are cared for, we are blessed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Why I love my local meat shop/grocer: when I special order my thanksgiving turkey she asks me if I want the head cut off and the insides cleaned out before I pick it up.

we had a lovely, wonderful thanksgiving, by the way. It was good - - really good. we had (church!) family, friends and friends of friends all sitting around our table;
the pies were a hit, meaningful conversations were had, plans were made for future get-togethers . . .

It was a lot of work - - after the door closed behind our last lingering guest yesterday evening, I felt like I had just been through another labor (well, almost!) . . .but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, of course. It has been a long time since we have had such clear opportunities to live and speak very specific aspects of the gospel among Spaniards.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

it's tradition . . . and I'm thankful

el abuelo (the grandpa) goes to the coffee shop every morning to drink his coffee and read his paper, and he always, always brings along with him an assortment of cookies - - wrapped in paper, and fastened with a rubber band. And when he sees my Josu, the abuelo calls him over and has him reach his little hand into his bag and pull out the package. The exchange of cookies for (somewhat superficial, I admit!) toddler excitement and affection is a spark of joy in the lives both of my Josu and of the abuelo . . . and I am glad for it!

Friday, November 16, 2007

the sink behind the chocolate cake was full of dirty dishes (and other dark confessions about my previous post)

Let's get things straight. I'm no super missionary. I think that I need to explain that postpartum hostessing doesn't come naturally or necessarily inherently delightfully. In fact, my last blog entry may have just as easily read like this:
invite like crazy: work really hard to control my thoughts away from "I wish I didn't have to invite anyone; I wish instead that people would be calling me up and begging to come over and see us and the baby; why am I the one who always has to take the initiative in relationships? Surly, if I lived in (fill in your favorite city) this wouldn't happen to me!"
entertain the guests: hold back the tears when two neighbors happen to drop in in the least opportune moment possible when my house is the messiest it has been all day (not even time to shove the dirty laundry under the couch) and my bacon is burning on the stove top and my boys are rude to the guests and all they talk about is what movies and video games they play (as if that is what they did all day! - - there goes my parenting reputation!)

what is true: Spaniards, who are normally hesitant to take the huge relational step of accepting an invitation into our home (and personal lives), are strangely and beautifully softened to do so when it involves a newborn. Understanding this, I am trying to make the choice to invite them in. And of course it is (almost always!) wonderfully fulfilling, not necessarily because I did such an amazing job hostessing, but because it has yielded good times with people.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

yeah . . . it's been a good couple of weeks

postpartum hostessing:
invite like crazy
(anyone we could think of - - neighbors, Malachai's classmates, the church, individuals from the class Joshua is taking on inter-cultural mediation, contacts from the coffee shop and park . . .)
clean the house ("is that the doorbell? quick! close the kitchen door! throw the diapers in the trash, light a candle and stuff the laundry basket under the couch!")
feed the guests ( we've fed them a pumpkin pie, the carrot cake, the sour cream bundt cake, one of the chocolate cakes that were made and frozen while we waited, and finished up the five boxes of chocolates that were brought to me at the hospital)
entertain the guests (pass the baby around; assure everyone that no, we are not worried that she will become spoiled from being held too much.)
yeah . . . it's been a good couple of weeks

Sunday, November 11, 2007

a week ago:

and I'm still finding coffee grounds in strange, obscure places. I think it happened because I didn't screw the top on tight enough.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

oh the thrill! oh the joy! oh the delight!

we are so glad for the blessing of this sweet life!
Selma Rachel Smith
weight: 3.13 kilos*
length: 49 centimeters **

* 2.2 pounds per kilo
** 2.54 centimeters per inch

Saturday, October 27, 2007

the one that didn't get posted

. . . because I wanted to make sure that they really were contractions; and then we had to run out too fast . . .

oh dang! is that a contraction?
I've established one thing this past week - - forced nesting doesn't
encourage the onset of labor. nope - - it doesn't work. true nesting is the overflow of a woman who is genuinely prepared to give birth; nesting, in and of itself does not actually make a woman ready to give birth. I think it's a bit like the good fruit/good tree images in Scripture.

on the positive end, I ("I " in the sense of "me and mom", mind you!) do have a defrosted freezer, my tomato plants are pulled and replaced with Jonny jump-ups, I am caught up on laundry, have made a cozy little moses basket out of a wooden chestnuts box that I salvaged from the farmers market, and I have two coffee cakes and a chocolate cake in my freezer (I'm scheming up a plan to have"come and meet and hold baby Selma" coffees with our friends and neighbors as a way to invite people into our home). I feel pretty good for being so miserable!

Friday, October 19, 2007

on raising boys in Spain

When we came back from spending a leisurely morning in downtown Pamplona to pick Malachai up from school we were rerouted by school personnel to the local emergency room. We did find him there; he had just finished up his pineapple juice - - bought for him by his teacher after he had tried convincing her that he needed a cafe con leche.
It turns out he had been playing toritos - - one of his favorite recess games in which one child, with fingers up as horns chases after a group of running, taunting boys; and he fell. five stitches baby.

. . . and we made sure that the school got our cell phone number.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Victoria Beckham on Spain

"Spain smells like Garlic"
. . . or at least that is what my neighbor told me that everyone's favorite Spice Girl said when she (my neighbor!) was giving me her recipe for pochas (fresh white bean soup) and was explaining to me why she doesn't add garlic.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

it's unfortunate, really . . .

our sweet Josu is talking more and more lately. to his great delight he has discovered that he can say his brother's name -- he lives his life gleefully calling out for Malachai - - "caca!"
"ma-ca" we prompt him . . . "caca!"
"chai" . . . . "caca!"
"hmmm . . . chai-chai" . . . . "caca!"

Friday, October 05, 2007

thanks for all the encouraging and challenging thoughts on my last post. Here's my follow-up - - it consists of three notes to self; read along if you are interested:
Note to self #1. know your boy
he loves ice-cream; he's a sucker for story telling; I cashed in on this and found the right moment to dish up a bowl of ice-cream and incorporate my teaching into the best dramatic rendition of the Exodus account I could muster up; he was hanging on to every word.
Note to self #2. know your boy's limits
Malachai's question was a tough one - - one that I think can certainly be answered from the text, buuuuut I didn't think that the text was as "four-year-old-clear" on his specific question as it was on say, for example - - what God's purpose was in hardening Pharaoh's heart. Soooo I did what any good bible teacher would do - - I tweaked his question and focused on that re-crafted question .
and . . . as to not to give an overbearingly lengthy blog entry here, I really, really want to encourage YOU to read the Exodus account and underline every time that God hardens Pharaoh's heart and the corresponding WHY - - it's fascinating! do it, do it, do it!)
Note to self #3. know and love your bible
I read the account a few times over before I sat down with Malachai; this not only helped me to understand the text better and help me to know where to focus my answer to Malachai, it made me excited about the text (I'm sure I wore poor Joshua down over the next few days - - telling him "did you know that . . . . ?") and when it comes down to it, I guess that that is what I want to transmit to my boys - - not primarily a right-on answer every time (although I will try my darnedest!) but even beyond that a love for the Bible and, of course, the God of our Bible.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

So, say that (hypothetically, of course) you are part of a church body studying through the old testament, and you have been encouraged to read through - -oh, let's say . . . the account of Israel's exodus from Egypt (for example)

and say that your four year old son sees you sit down with your bible and begs you to read out loud to him . . . yeah! . . . of course you will read to him from God's good, holy scriptures - - the marvelous account of the next step in the fulfillment of the wonderful promises made to Abraham!
things are looking good through chapter 9 (you wonder if maybe your son's thoughts have become more focussed on lining up his playmobile horses than on the great I AM's plans to call his people out of slavery) when suddenly he looks up and asks "but why were all of the Egyptians covered in boils, if Pharoah was the one who refused to let the people go? that doesn't seem fair . . . "
you fumble your way through an answer, not sure if it made too much sense, but (slightly unnerved), you continue . . . he seems happy enough with the answer you gave. you go on a bit longer. . .
then he stops you - - "wait" he asks,"did that say 'pharoah's heart was hardened'? So does that mean that God made pharaoh's heart hard and that Pharaoh did the bad things because of how God made his heart? "
oh stink! oh stink! I didn't even ask that question myself until I was in college, and then only because some bible professor prompted me to; how am I supposed to explain that one to Malachai!? ! What was the answer anyways?
I mean . . . if, hypothetically, if you had a four year old ask you that specific question, what might you say?
oh dear, I have to admit that I brushed that one off a bit (because, geesh . . . I still had ten chapters to get through, AND I had to format pictures for three more pages of our website before I could go to bed and I was already tired and fuzzy-brained!) but I will think it through carefully - - try to find Malachai appropriate words and images to best answer his concerns and I will try to create a special time with my boy tomorrow to snuggle and chat and make sure his four year old heart and mind are satisfied with my explanation. And maybe he'll want to talk about it some more (or maybe he'll just want to show me the farm he set up with his playmobile!)

Monday, September 24, 2007

it's tradition . . .

We read the notes written on the inside cover before we read the book; Malachai insists on it - - he knows almost all of them by heart.

post script
so, if you ever send us a book, you must, must, must include a note; it's tradition . . .

Sunday, September 23, 2007

we tried to get them to come out and clear some land for an airstrip; they opted instead to help us set up our website and teach us about photoshop. I guess that is better for our west European context anyways . . .

so really - - Peter and Julie were amazing. the hours they spent teaching us bits of the ins and outs of the computer world, helping us set up our website (wait, just wait a little bit longer and I'll give you the link!), were invaluable - - not to mention, they were just flat out delightful friends and guests; it was so refreshing to have them sit at our table and share our meals (give their opinions on which Spanish jamon they liked best), roam our city streets (admiring things we never noticed before), show our boys the amazing "world movie" (Google earth), and stay up late asking thoughtful and probing questions, listening to the lessons God has taught us this past year, and sharing some of lessons He has taught them . . .
good times. we wish we could have had more!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

on becoming Spanish

Four years ago, when I was pregnant with Malachai, I signed up for birthing classes because - - well, I'm not really sure why - - that's what pregnant ladies are supposed to do, right? besides, I figured I would meet a few pregnant ladies along the way, and that's always nice (they are a pleasant lot to be around!) So in this class, along with meeting other pregnant women, I spent many hours absorbing all sorts of really wonderful, helpful birthing tips (things like - - "breathe out as if you are blowing out a candle" - - I think), but to tell you the truth, what has stuck with me most clearly over the years is this:

"if you are having a baby girl, MAKE SURE to bring the earrings with you when you come in for your labor and delivery, so that the doctors can pierce her ears before you are discharged"

so look what we bought today
they were a wee bit more than I had purposed to spend (oh, but did like them more than the solid gold balls!), and then Joshua, my ever prudent and money savvy husband gently encouraged me to pick the ones I liked most. sweet Joshua.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

come along with us!

If you have ever spent any meaningful amount of time with us here in Spain, you know this about us - - one of our favorite family activities is to walk along the walkway behind our house (our building is the one in the far, far left of the picture; do you see it?)
The walkway winds alongside a stream, between fields (sometimes hay, sometimes barley sometimes sunflowers), past the private vegetable gardens and ends in a large grassy field that is filled with all sorts of fruit trees - - apple, fig, cherry, walnut - - where once a sneaky gardener planted and cultivated his fruit and vegetables without legally purchasing the property (that garden has since been torn down and turned into a lovely, wild-ish, public park)

well, we took this walk yesterday - - hoping to bring home our share of the crop of figs that usually abounds at this time of year. We were sorely disappointed, though, as I think that our cool, cool summer is yielding a later than usual fig crop. We did, however, find a nice pile of hay bales and managed to make a family event out of that!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Joshua is clever and smart and good with words - - so when the ministry web page needs to be put together, he does the writing

I'm the one with the camera - - so when Joshua tells me he needs pictures for the web page, I take the pictures.

this is what happens, though, when Joshua knows I am trying to take pictures for the web page; I think I have the harder job.

Friday, August 31, 2007

seeing Rachel off

So here we are at the airport - -joining Rachel as she drinks her last cafe con leche. The Pamplona airport was busy when we dropped her off and we had to fight for a table at the (one and only) Pamplona airport food/beverage station; I guess everyone else was trying to get in one last Spanish coffee too (it's just not the same anywhere else!); I think we knocked over a few small children as we raced for it! AND (horror of all horrors!) all the regular coffee cups were dirty so we got coffee in a paper cup!

Seriously, though, (not that having to drink coffee in a paper cup isn't serious) we were oh so sad to see our Rachel go. Her absence will be poignantly noted these next four months that she is gone on home assignment; we will miss having her here - - both as part of our family (who will read to my boys? who will encourage me to try new and exciting recipes?) and as a ministry partner (who will remember to put out the napkins when our dinner guest come over, or how will I possibly find a way to meet up with and encourage the countless women that she usually does?)
the house has seemed a bit empty and lonely these past few days; if you happen to run into her during her stay in the States, remind her how good she had it here and send her back our way!

Friday, August 24, 2007

it's tradition . . .

we wait. we don't open the bag and pull out the newly developed pictures until we can all sit down together and pass them around - - observing carefully and commenting appropriately on every print.

we picked up a processed roll of film today and found moment to all sit down together . . . look here for some of my favorites

Thursday, August 23, 2007

cooking in Spain

probably the most important rules in the Spanish kitchen are - - never give a recipe with precise measurements or instructions, and never follow a given recipe exactly. Most recipes I get from Spanish women tend to go a bit like this:
"oh! it's easy! all you have to do is measure 3 cup-fulls of flour
('what size cup?' I ask - - 'oh, you know, just one of the water glasses from your cupboard')
and mix in a few eggs
('how many?' I ask - - 'well, it depends on the size of the egg')
and 8 heaping spoonfuls of sugar, half of an envelope of baking powder, some salt and some lemon rind. beat it all together and stick it in the oven
('what temperature?' I ask - - 'oh, whatever - - a medium-high heat, I guess')" . . . and I don't even bother to ask how long - - I know that I just have to keep an eye on it until it looks "right"

bearing that in mind, here is one of our favorite summertime Spanish recipes (gazpacho!) - - based loosely on a loosely given recipe from a Spanish friend!

4-5 tomatoes - - washed;the riper the better!
1/2 onion
1 small cucumber - - peeled and seeded
1-2 garlic cloves
1 (or less) green bell pepper - - washed and seeded
give it all a good chop (feed the insides of the cucumber to any interested bystanders)

season with:
extra virgin olive oil (oh, maybe 2T)
a lemon or two (or vinegar if you prefer)
salt (1, maybe 2 teaspoons)

lure the interested bystander to blend it all together (I use my Malachai and my oh-so-Spanish blender stick, but certainly, you could use a blender or a food processor) until it is very smooth; I like it best chilled for at least a few hours before we eat it.

so there you have it! let me know if you give it a go - - and what you think (I never would have tried a cold soup recipe before coming to Spain!) AND, of course, what you changed in the recipe to make it your own!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

1. my camera got stolen

2. I cried and told everyone about it (it helped me to feel better)

3. these guys heard about it. they (and some more friends and church family) found a way to buy and send me a new one

4. I cried and told everyone about it (when I told the lady at my local camera store she asked me - - "what church are you a part of? I want to be part of that church!")

I love the church. I knew already that they loved me; if this had never happened, I would have known they loved me by the million other ways they have shown it already. this has just been one more, particularly delightful, touching demonstration of this love. I feel it so much I hardly feel like I need to say it (but - - hang it all, I will anyways!) - - thank you !

Thursday, August 09, 2007

living legally (and oh so cutely!)

We went this week to the police station to, like good law abiding missionaries, renew our boy's residency cards. look how cute these kiddos are! I pulled out the pictures we had taken for last year's cards and had fun comparing them to this year's ID photos.

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