Sunday Confessional

I confess that I have been spending far too much time on my phone while we are at home.  I noticed it this last week, when I got upset at Hosea.  He was jumping on his brother and I had asked him to give Moses a little space.  Only instead of actually asking him I briefly looked up from the email I was reading and told him.  Then I told him again, and again, and when he still didn’t listen, I yelled at him.

Yelling always makes everything worse.  I felt terrible the moment after I yelled, and I apologized to him, but the reaction was still there.  Later that night after Hosea had gone to bed, I found myself thinking and praying about why I had snapped at him so easily.  I realized two things. For one, I hadn’t been engaging with him and he was aware of that.  He knew I wasn’t paying attention and he was just being a little boy with boundless enthusiasm. I had not been paying attention and was therefore missing out on spending quality time with my boy because I was reading an email, or scrolling Facebook or some other silly thing that could have waited.

I confess that I don’t want to be that kind of parent.  I don’t want to teach my boys that its okay to half-way engage in what you are doing because you’re playing on your phone.  I definitely don’t want to be the kind of parent that snaps at his boys.  I want my parenting to be marked with grace, and I want my every moment in life to be marked with that same grace.

I am so relieved that God gives me grace in all things, because it is a huge responsibility to be a parent who models Jesus.  I find I have to ask for forgiveness from God and from my boys much more often than I would like.  Praise God for grace.

Tuesday in Barcelona

Tuesday in Barcelona brought more adventure for our family. We made breakfast in our flat from food we had purchased at La Boquería the day before. Then we started our journey toward the Montserrat Monastery. 11406383_3509396332269_1837135984225481299_oThe day before, we stumbled on a tourism office where we asked about visiting the monastery. Located an hour and a half outside of Barcelona, we weren’t sure of the best way to get there but they were very helpful. We bought combo tickets for the metro, train, and cable car, as well as lunch vouchers and entrance into the museum. (You can also just purchase each ticket as you need it, it’s not necessary to buy the whole package at once.) The train ride was beautiful, and the cable car ride up the mountain was absolutely breathtaking! Our 2 year old loved being so high up in the sky.

11539258_3509483054437_7951664123699721357_oOnce at the top, we explored all around this monastic city. We saw the basilica and took pictures of stunning panoramas. Being up high in the mountains gave me a sense of peace and we SO enjoyed admiring God’s beautiful creation.  11537918_3509485134489_4748210015018689511_o11392893_3509484014461_2575753407304696057_o

 

 

Our 2 year old found a cat that he followed around, and we finally got someone to take a family photo for us! “Selfies” are great, but my arms must not be long enough because our baby rarely gets featured.

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We had purchased tickets to the self-serve restaurant and enjoyed a huge meal there. It was a big cafeteria type place but the food actually tasted pretty good! And we enjoyed a beautiful mountain view while we ate; a nice setting always improves things doesn’t it?!

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Another neat thing we loved was the street of food vendors! There were several people selling fig cakes, nuts, various infused herbal honeys, fruit, almond and hazelnut cookies (biscuits if you’re reading from the UK), and THE BEST sheep/goat/cow cheese you’ve ever tasted! These people make the cheese themselves and they are all different. The vendors are happy to offer you pieces of each kind to sample. Our 2 year old loved this (and so did we)! We realized later that we probably could’ve gone without our huge meal in the cafeteria, and instead just enjoyed a meal of cheese, nuts, and fruit! Of course we bought some to take home 🙂

11221305_3509484414471_4955177375500297351_oSupposedly there is a boy’s choir that sings in the basilica every day at noon, but we arrived right at noon and must have missed it. Before heading back down we got some gelato so we could enjoy the view just a little while longer.

This made such a wonderful day trip! Visiting the monastery was my favorite part of our trip and I’m so glad we made the effort to catch all the different transportation from Barcelona to Montserrat. 11053268_3509395892258_2337244627388278642_oAs a side note, there is a rule on the trains/metro that people should give up their seats for parents with small children and the elderly. The train was so packed on the way home and no one offered to give me their seat. I was okay just standing because my 8 month old likes to move around anyway, but an elderly gentleman eventually offered me his seat. I thought this was so kind and it opened the door for me to have a lovely conversation with him and his 4 friends. They joked about how they had decided that the youngest among them would give me his seat, and they were completely enamored with our blonde boys! Speaking Spanish to these guys was a highlight of my visit!

11411923_3509496654777_3512938180592776513_oEven after a long day, we decided to venture out again for dinner. We ended up at an adorable outdoor restaurant called El Jardí. This place has a lovely garden with paths that occupied our 2 year old while we enjoyed tapas for dinner! 11393327_3509496214766_1351906999960376541_o

 

We got plates of assorted cheeses and meats, pan con tomate, and patatas bravas (potatoes covered in a spicy mayo-type sauce, our new favorite food item!). Our oldest son had a milkshake and our youngest son munched on meat/cheese in his chair.

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One of the main reasons we purchased this specific baby carrier (the Onya) was because it could transform into a seat! El Jardí was the first place where we tried it out and it was so brilliant. Our baby loved it, and we were hands free to enjoy our meal together. After all, this was our anniversary trip!

Read about our Sunday and Monday in Barcelona, and stay tuned for Wednesday in Barcelona too!

Monday in Barcelona

After enjoying a night of rest, our first stop on Monday morning was La Boquería Market, just a five minute walk from our flat. 11011110_3509441653402_6463765469983615020_oThis place is HUGE and full of every type of food you could ever want! We enjoyed the fresh fruit juices and smoothies, dried fruit and nuts, freshly caught seafood of all kinds, meat vendors and butchers with every cut of meat (heads and everything!), eggs, breads, chocolates, artisan cheeses, and fresh fruit & vegetables.

10866189_3509442213416_7559007862306958661_oThere are even a few tapas bars inside that will serve you freshly cooked food at bar-type seating. They seemed busy but we didn’t try it with our boys. We enjoyed a cup of fresh coconut and bought a kilo of cherries for 3euro! Nowhere I’ve ever lived has had such affordable cherries, so we devoured these.11406535_3509442053412_1441439492679131623_o 11402269_3509441893408_6134677354243478795_o

After a fun time exploring the market and sampling some goodies, we decided to sit down for a “real” breakfast at a place called Escribá. Turns out, this place is also a sweets shop and it became our favorite breakfast place! I had a lovely café con leche, our 2 year old had peach juice, and my husband (the coffee hater) ordered raspberry hot chocolate. We were surprised when he was served a mug of melted chocolate! It was absolutely delicious and came unsweetened; that’s real chocolate folks! He was given a packet of sugar to mix in and he did end up stirring in a bit of it. This was so yummy, and the main reason we came back twice more during our stay. For food I ordered a spinach and goat cheese quiche and the boys shared ensaimadas, a traditional Spanish breakfast pastry which is like a croissant made with brioche bread… I’ll just say I’m pretty sure God serves these in heaven 😉

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Stomachs full, we headed back to our flat to change into our swimsuits. Supposedly, Barceloneta Beach was within walking distance and we decided to give it a go. The weather was perfectly sunny (upper 20sC, low 80sF) and the beach was gorgeous! It was quite touristy and very crowded, we had to walk down a ways to find a place for our towels and I didn’t see any locals there.11406476_3509444333469_8423814723627102902_o With my kiddos, I like to sit right where the waves wash up over your feet but this area was covered in rocks that were actually quite painful to walk on. The sand is up on the shore a bit, so the water and sand don’t meet each other. We enjoyed ourselves looking for sea glass but it wasn’t quite the beach we had expected. If you’re just looking for a spot to lie in the sun that is near the city, this would be a nice place to visit.  10012091_3509452773680_1486065642639570369_o

On our walk back toward the city, we found a cheap and delicious place for a to-go lunch, BuenasMigas. 10003600_3509528655577_3316680050219139758_oThis restaurant serves focaccia which is similar to pizza, but it is rectangular and doesn’t have sauce. You can choose a variety of toppings and get it to go, which was perfect for us at this moment.  Both of our boys had fallen asleep while we wore them in their carriers! Playing at the beach obviously wore them out! 11357160_3509453093688_8461033028813933378_oBuenasMigas also serves freshly pressed juices. We got apple & basil and it was delicious! My brie/bacon focaccia was a good choice and so was my husband’s, tomato and goat cheese. The total for our meal here was 14 euro, very affordable!

After a quiet and relaxing walk home past the marina (both boys slept on us the whole way), we changed our clothes again and headed out to Parc Guell to see some Gaudí architecture.

11357224_3509393452197_4185240165584354689_oThis was when we figured out how to use the Metro we’d heard so much about. Barcelona has great public transportation and there is even a metro app (Barcelona Metro Map for iPhone) which was really handy. From the metro stop, we climbed a very steep hill to arrive at Parc Guell. I was impressed with our efforts because we were both carrying the extra weight of our children! Once it got too steep to climb, they had installed escalators to finally get to the top.  11078162_3509468214066_5969360625862725302_oThis was a huge outdoor area where you can take various hikes/walks to see Gaudí architecture. Our 2 year old loved running around and exploring this place! There were gorgeous views from the top and I’m so glad we came in the late afternoon when the sun had a bit of cloud cover; the weather was perfect. After wandering around a bit, we ended up paying the entrance fee to see the most famous Gaudí pieces (most of the park is free except for these) such as “El Drac”. Hosea was on the search for the “big lizard” and was excited to finally find it! 11539070_3509470134114_3045482771265951311_o 11402654_3509474134214_5398298887293102313_o 11537451_3509472414171_66248143703519989_o

After our walk/escalator ride down the hill, and metro ride back to the city center, we finished off our day with more tapas and paella in the Plaça Reial. Our baby charmed the women at the table next to us and we were glad for them to keep him entertained during dinner! It was another beautiful day.

Stay tuned for Tuesday in Barcelona! You can read about our Sunday in Barcelona too.

Sunday in Barcelona

We just had the great blessing of being able to travel to Barcelona for the week. My husband, two young boys, and I had such a wonderful time exploring this fascinating city! I want to document our daily adventures here in hopes of remembering all the fun things we saw and recommending activities for other families traveling there with small children.

11537957_3509382971935_2495650037582778780_oOur flight landed in Barcelona around 10:30am so we had the whole day to explore! First we set off to locate our flat that we found on airbnb.com. It was in Las Ramblas area, a great location just a few minutes from La Boquería market and tons of restaurants. First things first, I have to mention that the BEST IDEA I EVER HAD was purchasing a toddler carrier so that my husband could wear our 2 year old. I wore our 8 month old and we were able to navigate the streets/metro/trains/buses with so much ease! I highly recommend using carriers over strollers or buggies if you have wee ones. The boys were able to observe their surroundings without feeling overwhelmed and “out there” in a foreign city, they napped on us and we were able to continue exploring during the day, and we weren’t ever worried about them running off!

After dropping off our bags, we had lunch at Ambos Mundos in Plaça Reial and our favorite was the seafood paella! The servers were very kind here and this was the only restaurant that offered us a highchair for our baby. Feeling rejuvenated, we set off for the Picasso Museum but, because it was after 3pm on a Sunday (and therefore FREE), the queue was super long and we didn’t feel like waiting. We decided to just walk and explore the side streets. We passed by several neat artisan pottery shops and gelato places (try the coffee flavor!). We ended up at the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella and rented a rowboat at the lake before enjoying a walk to admire the flowers. Our 2 year old loved the boat and even attempted to help us row.

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At dinner we visited a different place in Plaça Reial called Cañón. All of the seating is outside and so fun when street performers come around! We were treated to a group of guys doing capoeira, Brazilian martial arts. The boys loved this! We sampled various tapas and I fell in love with “buñuelos de bacalao”. It was a fried cod cake type thing and reminded me of a savory donut, yum!

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Stay tuned for my next post, Monday in Barcelona!

Sunday Confessional- Anniversary Edition

I confess that, as of Friday, I’ve now been married to my husband for five years. This seems like such a long time for someone who’s only 25 but, on the other hand, these last 5 years have passed by in the blink of an eye. John is my best friend, and we have so much fun together. I know this sounds cliche, but I can’t imagine living life without him. He challenges me to be better, discourages me from putting myself down, and loves me on my bad days. These last five years have brought trials that I never saw coming, and more joys than I can count.

I confess that I’ve laughed every day for the last five years because, somehow, he can make anything funny. He’s good at everything he tries (seriously!). He can pull people out of their shell and get them talking, and he isn’t afraid to skip the small talk to get to the heart of someone. He is full of so much goodness, loving me more than I deserve, and seeing the good in everyone around him. The gentleness and patience he shows our boys is something I try to imitate daily!

We share a love for adventure, hence our most recent holiday to Barcelona with a toddler and a baby in tow. We’ve traveled to 9 different countries, and moved 7 different times these last 5 years. Some call us crazy, and maybe they’re right! I always tell people that we’re a lot alike, but that’s only partially true. Of course we are different in some ways! He’s outgoing and I’m more introverted. He burns, I tan. He likes mussels and oysters, I don’t. I like coffee, he despises it. But as I sit here thinking of differences, I’m coming up with a lot more similarities! We share a love for cooking, reading, exploring, and everything relating to our two boys. We try hard to be on the same page and communicate honestly with each other. We are unconventional, not often doing life in the way people expect. But we are a perfect match, and every day I see how well our unique qualities complement each other.

God really knew what he was doing when he made John’s path cross with mine. It wasn’t love at first sight, but a strong friendship that started the whole thing. Some regret their high school years, but me? I’m just grateful I was able to meet John when I was 16. It’s like we’ve grown up together (and probably still have some growing up to do)!

Happy Anniversary, John. You make my life so much richer. I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years bring (and the next 5, and the next 5, and so on!).  I love you more than I know how to say <3

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At the Fence 

This week we had the wonderful opportunity to visit Barcelona. For our last afternoon there, we decided to spend time at the beach. We took the train outside the city a bit and got off spontaneously when we looked out the window and saw a gorgeous beach. We were ready! Ready for the therapeutic relaxation that an afternoon on the beach can bring. We excitedly jumped off the train and saw that the beach was just on the other side of a chain link fence. We were only minutes away from toasting the soles of our feet on the gloriously sun-roasted sand. Excitement was an understatement for what we felt. I took a second to just gaze at the beach through the fence and when I turned to leave the train station I heard an absolutely heartbroken cry. “Daddy! I want to go there!!!”, Hosea called. His voice seemed to reach new decibel levels. No amount of cajoling would convince the boy that we were indeed going to the beach right that very second. I finally had to pick him up, put him on my shoulders, and start walking before he was to be convinced.

DSC_0584So often, interactions with my son shed light on my own life and my relationship with God. I know I’ve had moments when I cry out, begin to doubt God, doubt His promises, or lose faith that He will continue providing for me. I’m just like my son, standing at the fence and gazing wistfully at the beach on the other side, doubting if I’ll ever get to enjoy the waves. But we don’t have to just stare from a distance. We can run toward the goodness of God and participate in His will for our lives. This is when God scoops me up and carries me so lovingly, so patiently toward Him. Always the Daddy that I need.

Let us go forward knowing that we have a father who patiently carries us!