Dessert for Breakfast at Escribá

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If you visit Barcelona, I hope one morning you find yourself eating breakfast at Escribá. It’s located on Av. Las Ramblas almost right next to La Boquería market. Passersby tend to notice it because of all the gorgeous cakes and chocolates in the window! The first time we popped in, it was to admire the fancy desserts. We weren’t going to get anything because it was only just after 9am. That’s when I glanced at a displayed menu and saw the word, desayuno. “(GASP) They have breakfast here!”, I whispered excitedly to my husband. So then we got a table. What could be better than breaking fast at a dessert place?! We ended up with café con leche, a spinach & goat cheese quiche, hot chocolate, and ensaimadas. First let me tell you about the traditional Spanish breakfast pastry called the ensaimada. It is like a flat swirly croissant made from brioche bread and topped with powdered sugar. It is super tasty! On our second and third visits (yes, 3x in 6 days!) we ordered ensaimadas carmelitzadas which I would equate to a grilled ham and cheese that uses an ENSAIMADA instead of bread. This may have been the yummiest thing I’ve ever eaten in my life! You’ve got to try one. ry=400-6

ry=400By the way, my simple café con leche was divine because it was served with a small chocolate bar to stir in and let melt in my coffee. Umm, why have I never done this before?! Here’s a picture. Mine’s on the bottom left, and you can see the chocolate there on the saucer! The mug on the top right is my husband’s hot chocolate (he doesn’t like coffee) but can I tell you what was actually inside that mug? MELTED CHOCOLATE. This was no ordinary “hot milk with chocolate powder stirred in” type drink. This was literally a mug full to the brim of creamy melted chocolate bars. Unsweetened too! It was served with sugar packets! 100% chocolate folks. And whatever toppings you like. Twice he got the raspberry sauce and this photo here is of the hazelnut/praline option. AMAZING! I think these particular beverages will be served in heaven <3

11393693_3509442973435_4921978299425943423_oWe ate outside during 2 of our visits and this would be my seating choice again if we were to go back. Eating inside was a bit cramped with the energetic kiddos, but still lovely. My 2 year old was actually kept quite occupied by admiring all the desserts in the display windows!

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On our last day in Barcelona, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary by eating at Escribá. We let our toddler have cake for breakfast… it was a chocolate orange cake with melted chocolate poured on top. If I remember correctly I think it was called “El Escribá”. He chose it from the window and was super excited about how delicious it was!

I highly recommend visiting this place. The wait staff were very friendly and seemed to enjoy trying out their English phrases on us. Prices were reasonable and all the food we tried was sensational! I would definitely go back to try the horchata they had on tap inside; it looked amazing!

The Secret to Traveling with a Baby

ry=400-3My husband and I are big fans of babywearing. We love the many benefits that come with keeping your baby close to your heart! Babies who are worn cry much less, resulting in reduced stress hormones in baby’s brain. Because of this, they can calmly observe the world around them, match their heart rate and breathing patterns to the wearer, and have the feeling of being held. When we wear our babies, we are more in tune with their needs and can meet them before crying even begins! I’ve owned and utilized many different slings and carriers; from woven wraps, a moby wrap, an ergo, a beco, and done all sorts of carries: front, back, and hip. All of these have various pros and cons and I used to be seriously obsessed with my woven wrap, but I must say that my absolute FAVORITE carrier has been my Onya Baby Carrier. ry=400-10

This is called a soft-structured carrier and is very comfortable! People always assume my back must ache after a day spent wearing my baby, but because of the hip belt, most of his weight is resting on my hips so no, this carrier doesn’t hurt my back! There are two different pockets on this bad boy which are super convenient for being “on-the-go”. I always stash my phone, keys, cash, cards, etc. in there with easy access. It also has a hood for baby that can get tucked into a pocket when not in use. I  use this all  time when he falls asleep on me!

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ry=400-2 ry=400-12Another feature that makes the Onya the most brilliant carrier ever, is it’s ability to turn into a baby seat. Yep, anytime you have access to an adult-size backed chair, you can turn the onya into a “high chair” of sorts! This is so handy.

We recently moved from the U.S. to Northern Ireland with our 2 kids and having our onya baby carrier in the airport was a Godsend. We were able to coast through checking into our flights, baggage claim, security checkpoints, and never once had to worry if baby (or big brother, read about that HERE) was upset in the stroller and needing to be held.ry=400-7

We spent a week in Barcelona, Spain and I wore my Onya all day every day! It was so brilliant for navigating an unfamiliar city. Baby felt safe and comfortable, and I didn’t have to worry about him feeling upset or getting poked by strangers (because he was in my personal space bubble). Wearing your baby also makes discreet nursing super easy. Carriers are also great for taking hiking expeditions where strollers would be too difficult! ry=400-11

There are great benefits to wearing your big kid too! We use a Toddler Tula.

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Friday in Barcelona

ry=400Friday, June 12th was the actual day of our 5th wedding anniversary! The whole reason we came on this trip was to celebrate our love for each other and how much our relationship has grown. Unfortunately, this was our last day in Barcelona, but we made the most of it. We started out at our favorite breakfast place and sweets shop, Escribá. Because it was a special occasion, we let our 2 year old have chocolate cake!

Before going back to the flat for our bags, we walked around some shops to see if we could find a last-minute souvenir. ry=400-1There were so many neat artisan shops we’d seen all week that had beautiful painted mosaic gifts and pottery. I found a great pair of earrings with mosaics on them, modeled after some of Guell’s work. Earrings are my favorite souvenir to bring home from my travels because they’re small, and I get to show them off periodically and tell people stories from the trip. ry=400-2We took in our last few minutes in our neighborhood, with the narrow streets and closely situated apartment buildings/storefronts. There is some beautiful architecture!

We retrieved our bags, checked out of the flat, and made our way to the Barcelona Arena in Plaça de España. There is an elevator you can ride up to the top for a gorgeous panoramic view of the city. We killed some time here and the view was definitely worth the 1euro we paid to get to the top! ry=400-6ry=400-7

ry=400-5We caught the bus from Plaça de España to the airport and checked in for our flight back home to Belfast. The boys obviously had a great trip, they both fell asleep on the 2 hour flight! We are so grateful for this time together as a family to explore the amazing city of Barcelona <3

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Read about the rest of our trip to Barcelona too! Have you been? What was your favorite part?

Thursday in Barcelona

ry=400-5Even though it was sunny and beautiful outside, we decided to take some time indoors and check out the children’s science museum, CosmoCaixa. Only a short metro ride away, this turned out to be an excellent choice. We all had a fun time exploring the exhibits, plus the underwater ecosystem and rainforest is super cool!

Remember when we ate at BuenasMigas a few days ago? Well, we found another one and decided to eat here again! This is a great option for a cheap, delicious meal in Barcelona. ry=400-4

After catching the metro back to Las Ramblas (where our flat was located), we relaxed a bit and let our 2 year old greet people on the street from our balcony. He thought this was so hilarious! It’s the little things in life, isn’t it?ry=400

ry=400-3For our afternoon adventure, we changed into our swimsuits and caught the metro to the coast. We were headed to Ocata but spontaneously got off when we saw a nice beach. It turned out to be a great experience filled with locals; we were the only tourists. The water was a bit cold but the boys mostly like to play in the sand anyway. We soaked up some afternoon sun, listened to the waves and seagulls, watched our boys wrestle in the sand, and enjoyed some calm time on the shore. Also our baby ate a lot of sand 🙂

ry=400At this point I started getting hungry, so we walked about 3 minutes down the shore to a restaurant under a tent. I don’t think it had a name, just one of those beachfront pop-ups. We shared a grilled cheese sandwich, and tapas (of course!): chili nachos (from the “international” section), and patatas bravas (our favorite!) while our 2 year old used his imagination in a playhouse nearby. It was fun to eat at a place where the staff didn’t speak English. I love being able to use my Spanish and it’s just more fun! ry=400-1

What a great relaxing afternoon and evening <3 ry=400-2

 

 

Wednesday in Barcelona

Wednesday morning marked our 4th day spent in Barcelona. So far, we were having a fantastic time exploring, sightseeing, and trying new foods!

ry=400-6Our first stop was to revisit Escribá, the sweets shop, for breakfast. We had such a wonderful experience a couple days before, that we decided to go back for more! And it was only a couple minutes walk from our flat, so can you blame us?! Read about how much we loved it HERE.

 

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After breakfast we took the metro to Parc de la Ciutadella or, Citadel Park. You should definitely try to use the metro while you’re in Barcelona. It is super easy to figure out and trains come every couple of minutes, so you can get most places pretty quickly! We came here on our first day but we didn’t realize how close we were to the zoo. We entered the park from the Northwest corner and walked under the Arc de Triomf. It is huge and I highly recommend walking to the zoo this way! It’s a gorgeous walk anyway, you might as well add in the splendor of the Arc de Triomf.

We had a fun few hours at the zoo and it ended up being our 2 year old’s favorite portion of the whole trip! Read about our experience here.

ry=400-1After our exciting morning visiting zoo animals, we ended up a bit farther North to check out the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. But first we went to a nearby restaurant to fill our bellies. All this walking got us consuming a lot more food! We went to Tossa, recommended on trip advisor as a family friendly restaurant. I wouldn’t say that it was super family friendly necessarily (no high chairs) but the staff were kind enough! We enjoyed a tapas selection of little sausages in cider, patatas bravas, meatballs, and a baked potato with roquefort cheese. We also used our onya carrier as a high chair!

ry=400-2The Sagrada Familia Cathedral is one of those “must-see” sights when you visit Barcelona. Our boys don’t do particularly well in places where they’re expected to be silent and I was nervous about going inside and disturbing everyone. They’re joyous little noisemakers after all! When we got there, we found a queue out the door that would’ve taken a few hours to wait in. So, the decision was made for me: We’ll just admire it from the outside! This was the perfect choice. We gazed up high into the sky at the towering cathedral meanwhile enjoying all-fruit popsicles from a shop across the street. I’m sure the inside is gorgeous, but I also feel like we had a great experience walking around the entire thing and catching it from every angle.ry=400-5ry=400-3

On our way home, we passed through La Boquería market again. It’s just so fun to explore! This time we got more fruit and some fresh goat cheese for a snack later that night.ry=400-7

Again, we wouldn’t have been able to survive this day without our Onya baby carrier or our toddler Tula!

Check out all our posts about Barcelona!

Barcelona Zoo

For some reason, my family loves to visit zoos when we travel. It’s always neat to see different animals and learn about them, especially conservation efforts for those endangered. Our 2 year old loves experiencing various zoos and wildlife centers! When we were researching family-friendly activities in Barcelona, the zoo kept coming up so we decided to try it out. Tickets were cheaper online, so we purchased them the night before. The next morning, the zoo employee was able to scan the barcodes on my phone. Easy peasy! And we saved a few euro.

ry=400 Situated in the gorgeous scenery of Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona Zoo showcases a variety of animals among beautiful flowers and walking paths. If you enter Citadel Park from the Northwest Corner, you’ll get to pass under the massive Arc de Triomf on your walk to the zoo, definitely worth seeing!

We thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours spent walking around the zoo! We saw so many animals, chimpanzees, giraffes, elephants, flamingos, komodo dragons, giant tortoises, peacocks, and many many others.

ry=400-2ry=400-5ry=400-4There were several highlights of our zoo day. The first was the dolphin show. I waited in line with the baby while my husband wandered around some more with our toddler. There are benches and plenty of places to roam! The line moved super fast and we were soon shuffled in; and we got a great seat! Our 2 year old absolutely LOVED this show and was old enough to understand the trainer/dolphin “jokes”. He thought the tricks were impressive and there were many audible gasps and exclamations! The show was free, and just long enough for everyone to stay attentive throughout.

ry=400-8One of our other favorites was letting our son ride a miniature pony. He loves horses and has recently been showing off his bravery, so this was the perfect opportunity to have what he calls a “big boy treat”. It cost around 4euro but it was definitely worth it! He got to choose which pony to ride and my husband was given the task of walking the loop with him. Such great fun! Weeks later, he still talks about “his” horse named Magic.

ry=400-6Another cool thing about the Barcelona Zoo is the farm animal area. It’s set up a bit like a petting zoo and houses cows, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, mice, and guinea pigs, etc. In this area is also a great little playground! There was hardly anyone else there so we had the run of the place.

There is a cafe here too, but it seemed a bit pricy to me. Bring your own food or just eat before/after your visit to save some money! But it’s good to know it’s there in case you have people in your family like mine, who get “hangry” when we have low blood sugar 😉

On our walk back through to the entrance, I spotted a welcome sight. A room for breastfeeding moms! Thanks to my Onya carrier, I don’t ever have to stop what I’m doing to sit down and nurse my baby, BUT for moms that need a few minutes rest or are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, this room is a great option. It was wonderful to see! I stepped inside to check it out and there was a sink, a comfy chair, a microwave, magazines, and a changing table. Way to go, Barcelona Zoo! Thanks for making nursing mamas feel comfortable.

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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!

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!