After the Storm

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We've been having almost daily late afternoon thunderstorms.  (It reminds me so much of our beloved Colorado!).  Friday afternoon, I decided to grab my camera to catch some of the post-storm loveliness.  I think, in both life and nature, some of the best moments come right after the storm.

I hope you all are enjoying a nice, long weekend to kick off summer.  As we enjoy the pool, BBQ and birthday celebrations (at least at our house) may we not forget what today is really all about. 

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These Days

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These days I'm…

Planning :: A girls’ trip to Paris with my mother/sister-in-law and a week in Tuscany over Easter break.

Listening :: To birds chirping in the mornings along with Haim, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and a variety of podcasts.

Moving :: Thanks to yoga, Barre 3 and a crazy loop from our town, up a hill ( small mountain) to the next town and back.

Dreaming :: Of a vacation somewhere tropical, just Jeff and I and knowing that I need to be dreaming of southern Italy, Croatia and the UK (with kids).

Thinking :: About summer plans and our last year in Italy. 

Watching :: Scandal and House of Cards.  I’m no longer shocked by any news I hear out of DC. 

Enjoying :: Each of the kids’ right as they are at 10, 8 and 7.  (Though I could do without some of the sass.)

Noticing :: How easy it is to get used to the sunshine and how much I miss it when it goes away.  I think Colorado spoiled me and moving back to the Pacific NW may be a tougher transition than I think.

Pondering :: Love, justice, why people focus on “the minors” and grace. 

Loving :: That all three of my babes are downstairs making birthday "surprises" for me. 

Feeling :: blessed, grateful, loved.

 

The Season of Letting Go

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Also known as Advent and Christmas 2013.

This has been the best Christmas for our family in several years. Maybe ever.

Our Advent was full of most of our usual traditions and activities. Some were let go of due to the ever-changing shift in what is age appropriate. I just didn't think I could squeeze hand and foot reindeer out of the kids another year. Our schedule was a bit busier with Jack’s soccer schedule continuing right up to Christmas and that meant fewer nights at home as a family. We added a few new things and embraced old favorites.

For the past eight months, Jeff's schedule has been much more regular than it has been in nearly two years. This is a huge help in planning and just plain old life living. It also means that he has been able to attend the kids' events, parties and other activities with us. 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were nearly perfect. One of the biggest reasons was that I let go. I worked really hard this year to not worry if I didn't get all of the cookies made (no candy cane cookies this year) or that Christmas cards didn't happen or that the kids didn't get to shop for gifts for each other until Christmas Eve.

For me it was bigger than that. I'm a huge tradition girl. It's important to me to maintain traditions for our family so that regardless of where we are any given year it still feels like our Christmas. I've always clung to the things we do; new PJs, opening one gift, lasagna dinner at home and reading Luke 2 before bed on Christmas Eve.

The thing I realized this year is that clinging so tightly to traditions that I love has left me sad and lonely the past few years.

Some dear friends hosted an Open House on Christmas Eve and we went. It was slated to run from 1-6 which was perfect in my mind as that would still give us time to come home for our dinner and evening events.

These people have become like family as we’ve lived life and explored Europe together. It was a loud, joyful evening topped off laughter, gifts and food. Just like Christmas Eve should be.

Listen, I left our house that afternoon determined to stick with doing it all (including feeding my family lasagna because that’s what we do every year. Yes, I’m a slow learner.) As the hours passed, we realized we needed to head home to wrap up our day. We were all full in the best possible ways.

We came home and enjoyed the rest of our Christmas Eve traditions, deciding to save lasagna for Christmas lunch. Christmas day was full of gifts, movies, FaceTiming loved ones and a quick stop next door for prossecco and panettone.

It has struck me over and over the past few days that sometimes I cling so tightly to the things that connect me to the past and our extended family that I miss all the goodness that is right in front of me. While all of those things of old are great and have huge value, there’s just as much value in embracing the ebb and flow of the new, especially with the life that we are living.

Summering

Not a shabby view.  Lake Garda

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We're about at the half way point of Summer 2013.  It's hard to know for sure because unlike in the States, our school doesn't release any calendar information until about two weeks before school starts.  It's a big unknown until we see the sign posted outside the school.  My best guess is that the kids will head back around September 9th and, for now, that's good enough for me. 

This summer has been one for the books.  We've had a good mix of free time and scheduled activities and have really enjoyed our time together.  Some of the highlights have been:

:: "Camping" (we were in mobile homes) at Lake Garda with three other families.  Nothing kicks off summer like a weekend away with 8 adults and 13 kids in an amazing part of Italy. 

:: Lots of time at the beach, various rivers and ponds playing in the sun.

:: Reading tons of books.  I'm not sure who has read more, me or Jack.  

:: Board games of all kinds.  Yes, even the dreaded Life.  It's amazing how much I loved playing that with my siblings and cousins as a kid and now I say a little prayer every time I tell someone to "go pick out a game".

:: A night in Verona to celebrate our 14th anniversary and experience our first opera thanks to sweet friends that loved on our kids while we were gone.  

:: Enjoying 30 meters of pizza with friends and neighbors at our town's pizza festival.

Throw in BBQs, birthday celebrations, dinner parties, a day in Venice with friends and I'd say the past 6 weeks have been pretty amazing.

 

Salad for Breakfast

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One morning last week I woke to my body telling me I must feed it salad for breakfast.  My usual smoothie or veggie/egg scramble wasn't going to cut it.  

It was raw, crunchy veggies or nothing at all.

I'm not one to get too caught up on the appropriate times to eat certain foods so I obliged.

I've been on a bit of a cabbage and slaw kick (no, not the kind you get at the deli of your local grocery) and decided to come up with a Thai-ish version of my own.  I'm not much of a recipe girl when I'm throwing things together and tend to adjust as I go but I jotted down what I used that day and thought I'd share it.

Garden Veggie Slaw with Thai Peanut Dressing

1 small cabbage (green, red or half of each), shredded

1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced

1 carrot, grated

1 small zucchini, grated

1/4 c chopped parsley

1 can garbonzos, rinsed and drained

Dressing

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T all natural peanut butter

2 T Tamari

1 T (real) maple syrup

1 T sesame oil

2 T olive oil

juice of one lime

1/4 t hot chili oil

1 t Apple cider vinegar (I like Braggs)

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Place the dressing ingredients in a lidded jar, shake well to combine.  (You can also combine them all in a small bowl with a wisk).  

Because I wanted to save some for a few additional meals I didn't dress the entire salad.  Insead I dressed it as I went.  Either way works well.  Enjoy!

***

I made this again today but had different ingredients on hand so I added a bit of finely sliced celery and omitted the parsley.  For the dressing I also omitted the chili and sesame oils, apple cider vinegar and lime but added some rice wine vinegar and sriracha sauce.  Unfortunately, I didn't write down the amounts but the acid/oil ratio was about the same and I enjoyed today's dressing more.

After a long weekend of fun (ahem), this really hit the spot at lunch today.

 

 

 

Shifting

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Well, April went by in the blink of an eye.  It was a bit of a crazy month with Jeff gone for four weeks (mid-March to mid-April), my mom and Fred here for two weeks and all of the daily and weekly activities of our family.  

The weather has shifted and the kids have had several days off of school due to Italian holidays and elections.  It feels as if we've started a slow, yet steady, shift toward summer.   I think we're all ready for slower days spent at the river or the pool.  

These shifts are good.  Natural.  I'm ready.

Sights and Sounds

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Today has been a beautiful, Spring day in northern Italy.  While we haven't had much cold or snow, we have had a ton of rain recently.  That made today's sun and 60 degrees especially welcome.  

I came across a new salad recipe (Arugula Orange Salad) to try only to discover that I had sent the last of our oranges to school with Morgan for her snack.   I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and walk the mile to the open air market in the next town.  I'm so glad I did. I saw and heard such fun things.

Sights::  Gorgeous blue sky, snowy mountain tops, buds on trees, flower blooms, bees, people working in their gardens, a baby hanging out in his pack and play on the patio while his mama did housework and the first butterfly of the season.  (A sweet woman tried to point it out to me.  It took me a while to catch on to what she was saying.  Once I say it, I responded with "Ah!  Primavera."  I'm sure you are impressed with my Italian.)

Sounds:: The breeze as it moved through the trees, birds chirping, rugs being shaken out, "The Macarena" through open windows (that baby's mama knows how to rock the housework), "Que bella oggi" (It's beautiful today) from a sweet older woman who was sweeping her porch as I walked by, an extra hint of contentment and joy in the voices of all I met along the way.    

Que bella, indeed.