Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Out of the strong came forth sweetness

Like many of you, I have been preparing for a day filled with family, friends and food tomorrow.  My sister Sarah and I always volunteer to make pies.  My favorite is a pecan pie using Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup.  If you're not familiar with Lyle's, its a sugar syrup that was first introduced to me by a 5 year old in Kabul who requested it for her pancakes.  Her response to my, "What's Lyle's?" was an incredulous look and question, "Where are you from?"  Obviously, I had just crawled out from under a rock in her opinion.  Her mom explained that it was very popular in Africa (where this 5 year old had grown up) and available anywhere with a population of Brits like Marmite, PG Tips, Cadburry, HP Sauce, and the rest of the long list of food items UKers must have on hand.  Not wanting to disappoint, I've kept Lyle's in the pantry ever since.

But what I love about Lyle's more than the taste is the packaging.  It comes in a tin that looks like this:

Here's a closer look:

Yep, that's a lion carcass with bees flying out of it with the words, "Out of the strong came forth sweetness."  This image is taken from the story of Samson in Judges 14 in which he comes across a lion he had killed that had become a home to some bees.  The story isn't particularly meaningful in the grand scheme of things, but for some reason Abram Lyle decided to attach it to his product.  And for some reason those words resonate with me: Out of the strong came forth sweetness.

I love Thanksgiving.  I love reading the daily thanksgivings of friends on Facebook.  Side note: A lot of you are thankful for Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  I love planning and cooking.  I even love doing the whole round the table, what I'm thankful for moment.  And I love that Thanksgiving requires me to step back and look for the sweetness in the hard, the disappointing, the sad, and the strong.

Historically, Thanksgiving is a tough time of year for me.  My first miscarriage was days before Thanksgiving.  My mom died shortly after Thanksgiving.  My uncle died quite unexpectedly and tragically the day before Thanksgiving.  And we moved from Kabul days before Thanksgiving.  Even typing out these things stirs up strong emotions in my heart.  But just like the pecan pie I'll bake in the morning, these strong emotions are steeped in sweetness.  While we mourn the loss of loved ones, we celebrate lives lived well and are thankful.  While I don't understand our pregnancy loss journey, I think of how that time prepared me for my precious, little Aurelia.  And while I yearn for Kabul (especially today since Joey is currently sleeping on a toshak in the Hess home with our old comforter), I think of carrying a child who needed more modern healthcare and think Gig Harbor's not so bad.  When I step back and look at the bigger picture of life, I am overwhelming grateful.  Life is filled with sweetness.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)

And what post is complete without some unrelated pictures of cute kids?

PS. You can pick up some Lyle's at World Market.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Oh, October.  I am glad to see that month go.  We were plagued by sickness in the Hawkins Home.  I recently told Joey that I don't know what I would do if I got sick while he was gone.  Well, I found out multiple times last month.  First, it was an early morning call to my parents asking them to come get the girls and take me to the ER.  I've never had a kidney infection before, it was awful. And I'm so thankful for friends and family that helped with the girls and meals while I recovered.

Two weeks later I texted my dad that Aurelia had thrown up, followed by a text that I had joined her and Marguerite needed to get out of there stat.  Little side note: I had gone to a wedding the night before and danced the night away with many of my closest and dearest friends, party of the century.  The reports of people dropping like flies Sunday and Monday are rising quickly.  Maybe it was the Taco Wagon?  Whatever it was, it was violent.  I'll spare you any other details.  The good news is that I met my weightless goal.

Throw in a couple random fevers for the girls, roseola for Marguerite, an uptick in reflux wake-ups for Aurelia, and many sleepless nights for this Mama, blah.  As I said, I am glad October is over.  For some reason I feel that ushering in a new month will help us start afresh and leave all the sickies behind.  Please, please, pretty please.

The month wasn't a complete wash.  We had some good times.  Hit some new milestones.  Took some cute photos.  Here are a few for your enjoyment:

This is how Aurelia poses for photos now.  
Sick day for Aurelia.  We spent a good part of the day on the couch.
This kid is just too cute. 
Marguerite's turn to be sick.
But she bounced back and started standing independently.  Standby for news of her first steps in the next week or two.

Sisters dressed in plaid for St. Andrews Sunday.
All the dressed up members of our family.  

And now we're prepping for a busy time of appointments, holidays, and {most importantly} Joey coming home!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Words Don't Fit The Picture

We ran across this installment by Ron Terada on our trip to Vancouver, BC in July.  I've mulled over the words in this picture many times in the last months.  Because a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if no words fit the picture?  Or what if there are too many words to fit the picture?  Or what if I can't think of a caption that highlights all the ins and outs of that particular moment in less than a paragraph.  I've always had a problem with being a little wordy, even when it comes to photos.

As I've scrolled through photos from the last decade trying to will myself to print some to hang on the bare walls of our home, I realized that there are too many snapshots of life that are worth more than a thousand words and the words don't fit the picture. Like this one:

I could just call this Fondue night with the Hesses.  But here's my thousand words: This isn't even our family.  This is our first apartment in Kabul. These are some of our favorite kids.  This is before we shaved Alia's head.  I love Nico's spider web tattoo on his face, such a cool kid, one of Joey's best friends.  Later that night we watched Tale of Despereaux with the Hess kids and the sound was broken and it went from really quiet to super loud and made Tara scream.  I read a chapter from that book to the third grade class at the International School of Kabul earlier that week.  The kids asked me if I'd ever met a Native American.  My friend Adrianne had just cut my hair (still love that cut).    There's a microwave in that picture, we haven't owned a microwave since that apartment.  And it's winter in Kabul 'cause there's a bukhari in the background. . . I love winter in Kabul.  I hate winter in Kabul.  When I was in eastern Washington last weekend inhaling smoke from the wildfires, it made me miss Kabul with it's poor air quality and campfire scent in the winter.  I miss toshaks.  I miss fondue.  I miss Swiss people.  Oh, and I was pregnant when this was taken.  That was one of my favorite shirts, I bought it in Jaipur, India. 
See what I mean?  Such a silly little photo that isn't of much, and I probably won't hang it above my mantle, but there are so many words. . . seriously, I could have kept going.
Or how about theses ones:

Great photo, huh?  This is on our way to Kabul.  This picture breathes excitement, unknown, and adventure.  And although it would look great in a cute little fame, it just looks like a picture of us with the Tower of Big Ben in the background.  I'd always want to explain the deeper meaning, the little part of our smile that isn't just posing for a sightseeing photo.  
This is the first time I held Aurelia.  She was so brand new, but almost a day old.  And she was just about to go in for her shunt surgery.  Can you tell I'd been crying?  I did a lot of crying in those early days.  There were too many tender moments.  
At this exact moment in life, I feel like the words that I'm writing don't fit the picture that is me.  That might sound a little sad, but it's not meant to be at all.  It's more that I don't feel like I can accurately describe where I am at right now in less than 1000 words.  I've written 5 unposted posts.  Posts about things I promised I'd never do before I was a mom (i.e. I'll never write a "mom blog". . . oops).  Posts about my second baby who is not so much a baby anymore.  Posts about living life, loving fall, learning lessons.  And you'll read those posts, I promise.  But I wanted to explain why I'm having trouble hitting publish.  I feel like life is full and happy.  I feel like I'm learning what it means to be an adult, a friend, a follower of Christ, a woman of prayer, a person who makes mistakes, a mother of two kids that are growing too fast, a wife to an amazing husband who sent me flowers to celebrate the start of my favorite season.  I feel like now that I'm in my 30s, it's about time I grew up.  And growing up is hard to put into words.  But I'm going to keep trying.  And if you read this little space of mine, I guess you're along for the ride.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Summer Snapshots

I blinked and summer was over.  The days are getting shorter, school is back in session, Joey's back at work, and summer is over (although I'll take the sunny weather we western Washingtonians are enjoying).  Even though I wish it had lingered longer, this summer will go down as one of the best ever.  We played, we swam, we travelled, we ate, we drank, we celebrated, we enjoyed life.  And rather than say a thousand words, I'll share some pictures of our epic summer 2012.

She's cute. 
Baby A, enjoying some ricotta at Musette in Vancouver, BC

Riding bikes in Stanley Park

The girls in a chariot.  M loved it, A was not so certain.

Sun Yat Sen's Gardens.  My husband wishes he was Chinese.


Chinatown Night market.  We love self-portraits.

Joey is such an urban dad.

One of many, many pool days.  Did I mention we have solar heating?  Did I mention Joey installed it?

New nephew, William MacQueen Brooks.  He's a big guy.

The spread at my belated 30th birthday celebration.

Jaron (in the background) is really excited that Paddy is now a kid and not a baby.

Empty bottles, bug spray, and sunscreen: all signs of a great party.

The entertainment at Aurelia's 2nd birthday.  'Cause every second birthday needs a flame thrower, right?

Kid A and some of her crew.

And really, this is just a glimpse of the fun and frivolity.  I love fall, it's my favorite season.  But I am so sad to say goodbye to such a fantastic summer.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Baby A!

Today Aurelia turns two.  Can you believe it?  I certainly cannot fathom that my precious little Kid A is a two year old.  And I have many, many thoughts swirling through my head as I contemplate this little lady.  I could talk about how it seems like just yesterday. . .  I could post the obligatory NICU pictures with all it's wires and tubes.  I could talk about those first few days full of tears of joy, tears of heartache, fears of unknown.  I could talk about the initial prognoses, the grim and hopeful all rolled up together.  I could talk about the tiny little baby who we were uncertain would smile, laugh, see, sing, walk. . .  But I really don't want to talk about those things (even though I kinda just did a little).

I want to talk about the girl who is currently flipping through her favorite periodical, Aviation Week and Space Technology,

The kid that who signs "more" and then wiggles her shoulders signifying music first thing each morning,

Whose favorite songs are Stompy The Bear by Caspar Babypants and If You're Happy and You Know It Stomp Your Feet (she loves to stomp),

Who had to have her cowgirl boots hidden from her because her orthotics don't fit in them,

The kid who would live in the pool,

And will eat a whole tomato for lunch,

And loves to wake up slow and snuggle each morning,

Whose favorite outfit is her rainbow leggings and a patagonia t-shirt (ok, maybe that's more my favorite outfit 'cause she would be happy to wear pjs all day every day and throws a conniption fit when it's time to get dressed each morning),

The kid who loves giving kisses and waving hi and bye,

The little lady who first called me, "Mama,"

And helped heal some of the parts of my heart that were hurting,

Today I celebrate Kid A who is full of joy, smiles, and wiggles.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Prepare to be blown away

Aurelia took her first steps during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies during the Chariots of Fire piece. And she hasn't stopped walking since!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Worst Ever

Well, I pride myself on being even keeled and well rounded.  I'm good at a lot of things.  There are a few areas in which I excel.  And there are many areas where I lack skills.  But for the most part, I'm pretty good at most things.  However, I think that I can state without a shadow of doubt that I am the WORST blogger ever.  Never in the history of the blogosphere has someone neglected/ignored/mismanaged their blog to the extent I have.  The issue is that while many people just stop blogging and move on with their lives, I maintain that I still blog. . . I still write. . . I'm still here. . . and yet I haven't even signed into my account in over a month.  So, if you're still here, I sincerely apologize.

The worst of it is there has been so so so much to share.  We went to Vancouver, BC.  We travelled to Duke.  We've been utilizing our pool with it's awesome solar heating.  I made salt.  I made butter.  We attempted to make beer (attempted in that it's still brewing).  Life has been full, happy, healthy, and wonderful.  Don't you just love summer?  I feel like something about summer makes me laugh more deeply, smile more widely, and love life fiercely.  Or maybe the neglect of the blog and love of summer could have something to do with the fact Joey's home.  Or our two rapidly growing, rapidly progressing kiddos.  Or all of the above.

Bottom line, I'm back.  And I have some catching up to do.  And I have some sharing to do.  And I have some pictures to post.  And you'll have to wait until tomorrow, or the next day, or definitely the next day.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Forward Progress

And she's off!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Blog Guilt is much easier to deal with than Mom Guilt.  With Joey gone, my arms are rarely free and my moments are rarely spare.  Things are slowly starting to fall into a routine and hopefully I'll slowly start visiting this little internet space more often.  

But here are a few things in our lives:

Someone is standing!
Someone is smiling!
Someone got to come home for an unplanned, 24 hour visit pre-departure.
PS. My husband is so handsome!

And someone reactivated her IPhone and is actually taking pictures of her kids!

Aurelia and Nono and our new chair.

Get at them beans!
This one is turning into quite the lug.  She's QUICKLY catching up to her sister's size.

Super static bouncing baby. 

Life is full and busy.  But it's also lovely.