Friday, November 23, 2012

More to be thankful for...

Another Thanksgiving in Budapest.  

A day of gratefulness and family (where my children and husband never hear me yell,  "Just get out of the kitchen!").

And now, more than ever, a time with friends, pulling together stuffing and mashed potatoes, conferring over turkey baking techniques in the kitchen.

Last year it felt a little strange and sad, but this year it started to feel normal.  Of course I miss home and family, Thanksgiving parades and dozing on the couch while football announcers drone on in the background.  But I am thankful to be here.  

I am thankful for home.

I am thankful for the feeling of home, that it is more connected to my husband and kids than any particular place in the world.  

I am thankful for this city at night, for the magic it holds all lit up against the navy sky.

I am thankful for Starbucks at Christmas time, that while I pay almost double what I did in the States, it is so worth it to hold that warm, red cup in my hands and gaze out the white, decaled windows at the busy city passing us by.

I am thankful for warm snuggles on chilly mornings.

I am thankful that I'm a grown up and can eat candy before dinner (though I am back to sneaking it quietly in the corner of the kitchen).

I am thankful for my hard-working husband.

I am thankful that at least once a day someone runs to the bathroom yelling "Poo poo!" like it's a national emergency.  

I am thankful for little superheroes who climb my fingerprint-covered windows, shooting webs and ice from their tiny hands and jumping unabashedly from the couch, sure that one day they will take flight.

I am thankful that in 4 months we will add one more superhero to our collection. 

I am thankful for tiny feet jolting my belly, and for little hands pressing in from the outside.

I am thankful for this busy, growing, boy-filled family of mine.

And I'm thankful that we're crazy enough to keep adding to it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Not another church!

Today I am relishing the soft couch beneath me.  The boys dive through their toy bins like long neglected treasure chests.  Joel reluctantly left hours ago, back to the grind after tearing himself from the spontaneous embrace of our children.

We are back from fall break.  Back from long car rides and ancient ruins and pizza for nearly every meal.

Our trip began with the annual October break medical emergency.

After clearing our fridge of all edible food through the course of the previous week, we were forced into the local pub for a quick Friday night dinner.  As we finished our meals Finn attempted to climb over the small bench, but instead fell backwards into the heating unit.

We are used to loud bangs and crying children, so after a short "I told you so" lesson I scooped him up in my arms and stroked his little blonde head.

When I noticed a spot of pizza sauce on my arm I leaned him forward, hoping to dab it off with a napkin.  But underneath the spot was more like a puddle, and when I matched it to the bleeding gash on the back of his head panicked mother mode kicked in fast.

Joel paid the bill, Aiden gathered the toys and we were off within two minutes.

The gushing quickly subsided and though we looked like a scene from a horror movie the doctor was able to fix him up with some antiseptic, a small haircut, and a few dabs of glue (a merciful substitute to stitches).

So it was off for bed and some last-minute packing, readying ourselves for the next days adventures.

I thoroughly enjoyed our first car trip.  Those precious hours with a hot cup of coffee and our energetic boys strapped to their seats... something I frequently miss from home.

So aside from some whining and relentless requests for food and drink, we rolled through the green, Slovenian countryside quite blissfully.  After a short stop in Ljubljana for ice cream and gyros we finished the day's adventure at beautiful Lake Bohinj.

The next few days were spent...

 hiking sparkling green (and surprisingly long) river gorges...

finishing with some hot drinks at the top...

riding scenic cable cars (for those of us not staring at our feet, praying it would soon be over)...

feeding the ducks (while carefully avoiding the swans)...

and most importantly, relaxing.

Finn still insists his favorite part of our trip was playing with toys in the apartment.  Aiden loved cooking and eating dinners at "home" (we have to literally beg this boy to go out to eat).  And Joel and I enjoyed sipping our coffee together in the morning, reading books and watching German-dubbed children's television.

From Slovenia we passed over steep, winding mountain roads and into the long, flat expanse of Italy.  There we shed our layers and soaked in the sun on our arms, navigating outlet store and roads lined in olive trees.

This time we ventured further into Italy, ending at a tourist farm just outside Florence, greeted by a bottle of homemade red wine on the rustic, wood table.

The next three days were a blur of people and pizza and so many steps to the next gelato.

But we did get to see these things...

Of course the smiling pictures leave out the whining and meltdowns, our complete exhaustion and the fact that when we finally strolled up to the Vatican Aiden screamed, "No, not a church!" and burst into tears.

But once again it's the happiest memories that linger, gnocchi that melted in our mouths, the kindness of strangers patching our tire, replacing our windshield wiper in a downpour, falling asleep with two little ones tucked between us, small smiles on our faces.

I'm not sure they know how lucky they are, and I'm certain I don't.  But I suspect someday we will.  And until then we'll just try to enjoy living it.