Wednesday, December 31, 2008

letters to a sister

Dear Abi,
These past few days as I have been going about some of the menial tasks of keeping home (like cleaning out that corner that all the odds and ends got tossed into while you were here - - because our precious hours together couldn't be wasted by doing too much tidying!) I have lovely memories to feast my thoughts on, like . . .

the runs we had together (just so you know, I totally let you and Gillian beat me up the gigantic hill)
you guys letting us drag you out into the cold night to see the Olentzero parade
the cheese platters (hooray for Gillian for bringing five varieties of French cheese across the border to us!)
the ice skating (how could it not make my heart glow to see Josu hanging gleefully between you and Nathaniel)
the late nights playing games
the dancing (by the way, those brown cords looked so much better on you than they do on me; I hope you took them with you)
the conversations - - the big group ones as well as the two or three huddled in a little corner sipping tea onesSelma bypassing everyone, every day to get to Nathaniel's lap
cooking together
and then the washing up
(and that time that you and Nathaniel called out for pizza on the day that I crawled into bed for a wee nap and ended up there for five hours)
haircuts in the kitchen
just being together
it was perfect!
aaaaaahhhhh, yes.
I knew your visit was going to be good, but it was even better than good.
Malachai summed it up nicely today when someone at the coffee shop asked him about his Christmas holiday, and he said that his favorite bit had been his aunt and uncle visiting.

much love from our home in Spain, to yours in England,

p.s. we miss you. and you guys are missing out on the great family fun that happens around here on a daily basis, like when Malachai stuck his finger down his throat last night and threw up because he was "just trying to see if he could touch the back of his neck"

p.p.s. we forgot to make fresh gingerbread; blast!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Eve in our neighborhood

So there is this local legend about a guy, Olentzero, who comes down from the mountains at Christmas time. the legend is kind of fuzzy. there seems to be confusion (even among the old timers here in Pamplona) about who exactly he was and what exactly he did. No one lets that keep them from making good parade out if it all, though, so this Christmas Eve, we all bundled up to track down Olentzero as he paraded through our city streets.
I made up this little chart, as I thought it might help you and I to understand Olentzero just a bit better, comparing and contrasting him to someone we know . . .

Santa: Spends his year heading up the toy productions with his lovely little Mrs. and the elves
Olentzero: spends his year mining coal and living the life of a recluse in his mountain cabin

Santa: travels from the North Pole on Christmas Eve
Olentzero: makes his trip down from the mountains . . . also on the night of the 24th

Santa: is accompanied by his reindeer . . . and maybe an elf or two.
Olentzero: is joined by a herd of sheep, a couple of oxen, a chestnut roaster, and a whole slew of accordion players. (and some Basque protesters, demanding more humane treatment for those who they feel have been unjustly arrested by the Spanish government for supposed involvement in terrorist activities)Santa: eats cookies put out for him
Olentzero: passes out bread and goat cheese, and roasted chestnuts (look, here is the cart that holds the chestnut roaster. all we had to do was run up behind it and put out our hands, and we would get chestnuts!)
Santa: has rosy cheeks (I suspect from the North Pole chill)
Olentzero: has rosy cheeks (I suspect from one too many bottles of wine - - it's what the stories tell us, anyway!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

hello, my name is Malachai

I am five years old, and I live in Spain.
I speak both English and Spanish fluently.
I speak two words of French.
I am very proud of this fact.
that is why every time I met someone new in the United States this summer, I told them that I could speak French and then taught them how to say bonjour and au revoir.
I am one smart cookie. I mean, croissant. that's three words.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

we dragged ourselves off the couches yesterday and went out for an afternoon stroll where:
Joshua told Josu to let go of the pole because that is where the dogs go pee,
Josu encouraged me to "come on"
Malachai got just a little more comfy,there was general familial bonding,
Selma cried a alot,
we played a (not so rowdy) game of three flies up
appropriate consequences were given at appropriate times
Joshua taught Malachai how to look good.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

lovely and glow-y

we put up the tree last week. isn't it glow-y lovely?
it's a good thing that we put it up last week, because this week we are all fevered, coughing, sniffling, and generally bad humored . . . which is probably why:
  • I almost cried at lunch when Malachai prayed fervently that God would help him and Josu like the soup and not complain when they had to eat it
  • Josu's songs-per-day ratio has dipped severely
  • Selma is back to nursing four times a day
  • Malachai complains of "fuzzy brain"
  • Joshua hasn't been jumping out from behind the doors to startle whatever unsuspecting family member might be passing that way
aaahhh, but we do enjoy laying on the couch and just gazing at our lovely, glow-y tree. good thing we put it up last week.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I didn't understand a word they were saying, but boy were they cute!

Joshua and Rachel were reviewing the vocabulary from their Euskera class over lunch today.
there is something you need to know . . . when we moved to Pamplona 6, almost 7 years ago we had no clue how heavily influenced the city was by its Basque heritage. So recently, in an attempt to understand our city (and our neighbors) just a little bit better, Joshua and Rachel have nobly signed themselves up for Euskera classes.
right, so, I was saying . . .

Brave Rachel reviewing Euskera vocabulary.
Dreamy Joshua reviewing vocabulary (oh baby, he makes my heart flutter when he speaks in a different language!).

Well, as I sat and chewed happily on my rice and lentils (it's what we've been eating around here in between thanksgiving leftovers) and listened to the super cool, culturally adept Joshua and Rachel hashing out their Euskera, Malachai piped in with some helpful Euskera suggestions.
and I was so proud of them.
then Josu started singing the days of the week song.
in Euskera.
cute kid.
and then Selma gave a little Euskera baby babble. I'm sure that it was just like the little Basque babies do it.
sigh. I love my family.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

on this, the day after our thanksgiving

we ate a healthy breakfast: apples, oats and dairy.
and exercised:
dance, dance, dance!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

the bus and other things related

I took Rachel to the hospital yesterday afternoon. we took the bus.
I love Pamplona's bus system
I love that people of all classes ride on the bus
I love that people of all nationalities ride the bus
I love that I see well dressed women in high heals running to catch the bus
I love that I can catch a bus ten yards from my front door and take that same bus all the way into the heart of Pamplona.
I love that almost every time I ride the bus I see some sort of reunion - - people greeting a neighbor or a family member or an old acquaintance that they haven't seen in years . . .

I DIDN'T love it so much yesterday when the man that was behind me on the bus kept pushing me in the back and telling me to keep walking down the bus' narrow isle even though the people in front of me weren't moving and the bus was braking and curving at the same time.

but I DO love Rachel, and and I DID totally enjoy the time we had together as we waited for her to get checked in. we had coffee. (and then a chocolate croissant, and then she had a natural yogurt - - good girl, yeah? and I had a pincho - - a teeny tiny baguette with a slice of cured ham with a strip of roasted italian green pepper) all while we talked about things like the cute things we've seen on etsy and how we can't wait for Abi and Nathaniel to come and visit us for Christmas . . .

and I tucked her in, and took the bus home.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

and today he is three

Happy Birthday to our three year old who likes to wake us up with his cheerful singing in the morning! (and although I don't always love it when it happens, it makes me happy when I think about it later in the day!)

hey Josu, what was your favorite present today?
was it the Peter Pan toy with the baby sword?
was it the books from Gran?
the blocks from Grandma?
the retro tin lunch box from Aunt Jamey and Uncle Noah?
the picture that David drew for you and left uncolored so that you could color it in?
or was is the super cute sock elephant with many wonderful accessories (that Mama spent hours and hours and hours toiling over)?

what!? the cake? it was the cake?

oh. I guess I'm not surprised. I love you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

the talk

right, so - - the talk.
it was awesome . . .
Sure, there was some disappointment - - lots of the friends and neighbors that had said that they wanted to come, didn't actually come. ok, none of them actually came. kind of stinky.

but the good, good news is that:
1. Joshua really did a fantastic job sharing; the way he was able to communicate the more technical elements of the historical Jesus, while still communicating a tender love and passionate fervor for this historical Jesus was astounding. I sure do like him.
2. aside from our Cristian community and a couple of exclusive invited guests, there were four individuals that came. FOUR!
3. the interaction time at the end of the talk was outstanding; I mean, how can you not get giddy about one of the guys there saying - - "there is so much indifference in our Spanish Catholicism; I can't help but wonder that if the nuns had taught us stuff like this, we might actually be excited about following Jesus"!
4. our Community got together at our place for pizza after the talk. we invited everyone at the talk to come and join us. and do you know what? someone did!

and yes, I know,this has already been a long post - - a bit tedious and cumbersome for those who insist on "fewer words and more pictures!" (Mercy Newton!) but I really must go on a bit longer to relate what may have been the greatest marker of success; read on my friends:

context: 3/4 the way through Joshua's talk, he made the point that the kingdom of God could not be advanced through violence . . .
Malachai (who brought along his paper and crayons and sat quietly during the talk): "Mama, I've been thinking"
me: "mmmmm? (oh my goodness, he's just like his father!)"
Malachai: "well, when I'm an adult, and if there is a war, I am going to get a loudspeaker and say to the soldiers 'he who lives by the sword will die by the sword, put down your swords!' and then I will invite them over for dinner. Will you make them dinner when I bring them home?"
me: "yes my sweet boy, yes. I would love, love that! I will make a huge, wonderful dinner for all the soldiers (oh my goodness, he's just like his father!)"

Friday, November 14, 2008

tonight. 8pm. be there.

there is this really cool thing about the Holy Spirit - - he gives gives the gifts that he wants to the people he wants, and his gifts are good.

there is this really cool thing about Joshua - - he is faithful to exercise the good gifts that the Spirit has given him.
Joshua will be giving a public talk tonight (8 pm) in our city's local culture center - - sharing about the historical Jesus and the revolutionary expectations that would have come in his context (it's fascinating; really, really fascinating!)
pray for him!
(p.s. Spain is 9 hours ahead of CA, 8 hours ahead of ID, and 7 hours ahead of TX . . . you still have time!)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I invited her in

because sometimes, caring for someone's soul and challenging her entire world view and self identity is easier to do over coffee:a JW woman has been coming over for the past few weeks.
In times past, I've had the darndest time actually engaging in profitable dialogue with a Jehovah's Witness.
it's been a little bit better this time. a little.
this Thursday, Silvia and I start studying the Gospel of Mark together - - something I proposed to keep us from jump, jump, jumping from proof text to proof text.
Please pray for me, that as I talk with Silvia, that I would listen carefully, question thoughtfully, and faithfully handle God's word.
and pray that the Holy Spirit would work wonders. he does that. I need that.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

good social tips from Naomi

being on the end of a (rockin'!) Halloween party, and on the eve of a season of many more parties, I thought I would write up a bit of an etiquette guide for all you party throwers and party goers out there. if you have any questions about specific issues that I don't address here, feel free to email me and I can point you in the right direction!
party goer:
if the party thrower asks you to dress up, well then, by all means, dress up! your costume will (probably) make the other party goers have a good chuckle and have an extra fantastic time. It will make for outstanding pictures, and will make the party thrower feel really great about his super party.
(Rachel is a faithful adherent to this partying value and can here be seen dressed up as, and nearly indistinguishable from, the original Gwen Stefani)
party thrower:
if the party goer comes having payed no regard to the request to dress up, choose not to view this incident as a personal offense. remind yourself that party goer has indeed come, and that that is what really matters.
party goer:
when at the party, the party thrower may have put together a list of activities - - probably ones that he thinks are pretty fun. do your best to participate fully; laughing a lot, cheering other people on, and clapping others on the shoulder are all appropriate ways to communicate that you are having a grand old time participating in the organized activities.
party thrower:
if you find that a particular guest is reticent to participate in the activities or just seems to be "moping around", do your best to cheerfully involve that guest - - bring him a drink and a snack, and urge him about two or three times to come live the fun life. if he refuses, avoid thinking things like "boy, what a jerk", and instead, try to think things like " man, he must have had a long day; I hope he feels better soon"
party goer:
remember that, unless the party thrower has asked you to bring a specific dish, you should come without one! the party thrower has probably enjoyed putting together the menu and wants you to come without having to worry about details (other than your costume, of course)
party thrower:
If a party goer shows up at your cocktail party with a bag full of hamburgers that they picked up along the way, thank the party goer profusely, remember that your guest matters more than your menu, and then chop up those hamburgers into little squares, stick little toothpicks in them, and put them on the silver tray along side of the crab cakes!

and now . . . a couple more pictures from the awesome rocker-themed Halloween party:
Joshua - - with the sweetest mohawk evahhhh
what does Cindi Lauper's baby wear? leggings and converse, of course.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

what my neighbors have to say about the elections:

Juan Luis: (a pasteleria contact) "I don't care who wins, I just hope that whoever wins brings success to your country - - because if you do well, we'll do well"

Begonia: (a friend - - and a mother of one of Malachai's classmates) "I was watching the news last night and saw huge, huge lines of people waiting to vote for your future president; AND I heard that in the United States, you don't get four hours off of work to go to vote like we do here in Spain; I could hardly believe it - - with the Unites States supposedly being a forward country!"

The general word on the street: "finally! George Bush is out!"

Saturday, November 01, 2008

you and me, we make a good team

I teach our sweet children important things like: "when you brush your teeth and spit the toothpaste out into the sink, make sure to splash some water onto the trail of toothpaste foam and wash it down the drain."
You teach our sweet children things like: "Josu, where is God? yeeeees, He is everywhere; is he everything? noooooooooo . . . that's pantheism, and that is a false view of God"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Josu loves going to school. always. he loves it.
As we walked out the door this morning, he grabbed my hand and said "Josu need Mama".
Now, as much was we work hard to distinguish between needs and wants around here, when Josu says that he "needs Mama",
my heart
So Malachai took over the stroller pushing, and I picked up my weepy boy and told him that he would, indeed, go to school ("with Malachai!"), but that when I picked him up for lunch, I would snuggle with him and read him a book
or two
And Josu said "Malachai go school. Josu go casa and Mama read Bible!"
and I just fell to pieces;
but I took him to school. and he went - - crying.
and my heart was

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the event, documented

several days prior: have Rachel bake a pie; make Selma beg her for some.
the birth-day - - it's been one year!:
in wee morning hours: spend a few minutes daydreaming about the day Selma was born - - remembering the way she came out with just two little pushes ("not even any crazy pushing faces", Joshua told me); amazing at how much we loved her from the very beginning . . .
that afternoon:
go to the toy store to pick out a gift; do other fun things while we're at it
find the thirty minute time slot in the afternoon when every one is home and awake; stick a candle (one, of course!) in the last piece of apple pie, and sing a happy birthday song!
then go to bed. The day after, have Selma play hard with the the sweet-awesome gifts that she scored from all the people wanting to celebrate her.

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