Apple Pie

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I recently discovered a wonderful part of the grocery store. I’ll tell you how I missed it before. In usual grocery shopping scenarios, I have my two year old in the front passenger seat of the shopping cart and my almost same sized four year old in the main basket. I try to busy them with a new $1 or less toy. If they are good they can keep the toy, maybe.

Somewhere close-by is my husband pushing around the other shopping cart which has the actual food and household items. More often than not, at some point during our ‘hopefully less than two hours’ long adventure, a tantrum explodes. They want out, they want to run, they saw chocolate or marshmallows or a cereal they need right now or they won’t know how to cope with life. This causes stress of course on us parents. Some customers nod their heads and smile in understanding, giving us the reassurance that it’s okay. Then there are those who shake their heads with annoyance. And those are the ones that make our blood boil.

There have been innumerable times when I went running down the aisles grabbing whatever I can from my shopping list and tossing it to my husband who was trying to find the best deal of everything. Oh how I miss the luxury of Tesco online shopping! I congratulate myself on those occasions where I have been able to block out the tantrums and carry on shopping. When I have been able to ignore my children’s unsafe and out of budget demands, I like looking at foods I enjoy. Walking slower and really seeing what else the store is selling.

I found myself noticing a corner of breads and smaller aisles of baked goods. As I got closer to the treasury of pastries in front of me, my stomach sinks with regret. Why have I not prioritised this corner of delicacies before? Why do I not take more time to enjoy this shopping experience and treat myself and the family? I stop at the rows and rows of pies. I love pies! Big pies. Mini pies. Seasonal pies. Boxed pies and fresh pies. I feel like a foreignor when I say America is crazy for pies! I’ve never seen so many pies in other countries. Pastries, yes, but not pies. Chocolate mousse pie, apple Dutch pie, peach pie, cherry pie, strawberry pie, banana cream pie, lemon meringue pie and more. And this is where I get asked the famed question: what’s your favourite?
This question has always stumped me. Why have a favorite when they are all so delicious? It is easier for me to answer- which one do I NOT like? I don’t know! I suppose I will just have to sample them all. One of all the minis please!

But let’s think a minute. I love apples. There are always apples in my house. I make apple crumbles more often than I do pasta dinners. My go to snack is applesauce or apples with peanut butter. When I’m not feeling well, an apple cures me. I can eat apples everyday. Does that make it my favourite? Not necessarily. Put a fresh strawberry next to a fresh apple, and I’ll choose the strawberry. Does that mean strawberries are my favorite? Put a key lime pie next to the strawberry pie and I’ll choose the key lime because I have yet to try a key lime pie! Oh my goodness, I need a buffet of pies!  So there I was in front of the pie section wanting to take one home with me. One. I want all of them! If I were to claim that apple was my favorite, then people may be surprised if I chose the peach! I don’t pick favorites. I pick moods. I fear having a favorite would run the risk of being stuck to one thing. With food, horizons should be broad. Very broad. I’m so glad I discovered the corner of the store that was always there. And if you’re wondering, I chose the chocolate mousse pie! This made the boys very happy because mommy always shares. And chocolate is always good leverage for bribery 🙂

Next week we will indulge in the bread section and maybe take home some new cheese to eat with it! Love food!

Photo credit (apple pie)

Behind the Scenes of the Housewife Life

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Having a picnic for snack time in our front yard.

My current house is painted white. There is a “welcome” mat and a small mailbox, a wreath on the door with a tiny bunting I made. I love having front steps to sit on and watch the world drive by. Sometimes the boys sit with me and we count cars together. Inside our house, and everything that happens here, is what I call “behind the scenes.” Welcome to my home and my life. Have a seat on the couch and make yourself comfy.

I have house clothes and public clothes. Once in a blue moon I decide to “dress up” in my public clothes even though I am just at home with no plans of leaving. It’s just nice to not look lazy all the time. However, of course there had to be spills. The dark smudge on my jeans was from this morning’s breakfast when my two year old decided to dump the last of his milk on my lap and I didn’t care enough to change. I tell myself no one is going to notice. And here I am pointing it out to you.

My four year old points at my sockless ankle.

“Mommy what’s that? Did you have blood?” His nose wrinkled only an inch away from the questioned site.

“That’s a scab. You have scabs too. See? It was blood but now it is healing and that’s a scab. Mine is on my ankle and yours is on your knee.” He seems surprised at the discovery of his own scab and picks at it.

While he picks at his scab I admire my new nail varnish. A nude pinkish colour. One of my favourites I have ever had. When we moved from England to Ohio almost a year ago, it took a few months for me to realise I had gotten rid of all my nail varnish! So I bought a new colour but didn’t like it. I was in a bold mood and chose a bold colour. Mood swings coupled with impulsive buying was never a good match. This “safe” nude colour has proven perfect next to my tan skin. A small and otherwise trivial matter, but sometimes these small things can make a large difference in a woman’s world. I now wear my flip flops with confidence!

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Counting cars.

My two sons begin to scream at each other over a toy. They always want to play with the same one at the same time. Seriously? They have ALL these other toys and books and whatever, but they both want that ONE! A few months ago I had asked my husband if we could please start getting two of everything. He said no. They have to share and take turns. Fine. Before I became a mother, I believed my children would never fight. I have been humbled a thousand fold for thinking so foolishly.

I’ll make us a cup of tea. I only have peppermint, is that alright? Growing up, my mother used to always make peppermint tea, but we drank it cold. My love for mint must come from her. I miss her. Do you ever eat or drink something because of memories? Years ago when I was employed, I worked in a very posh retail store. We had our lunch break and later in the evening we had a tea break. I always had peppermint and liquorice tea, sweetened with brown raw cane sugar, with a slice of my homemade lemon cake. I haven’t been able to make a successful lemon cake since the big move but I will continue to try. The tea however, I cannot find anywhere! If you happen to see it, do let me know! For now, we will be grateful for this peppermint.

So, I am really out of the loop with the music world. On a bright note, I can sing several varieties of the Itsy Bitsy spider, the ABC song, and a few others that I can’t seem to think of on the spot. Having said that, it was a real treat the other day when I was in the car listening to my husband’s playlist and this really cool song came on. I am quite convinced that someone from the band at one point lived the life of a housewife. Because it totally connected with me. I don’t know who they are and I can’t remember what they said, but it was nice knowing that someone out there shared similar feelings as me.

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My four year old comes over and inspects my cup of tea.

“Is that hot lava? It’s hot. See? Smoke. Is it a fire? And burn the house down? No. You can drink it. Mommy do you like it? Is it good?”

I cannot express how wonderful it is to see my son growing up and hearing his thoughts. He may talk in circles but I am ecstatic that he’s figuring things out on his own! My two year old then comes over to see what the fuss is. He takes a look inside my cup and goes back to his playing. He could care less about my tea. I’m proud of him too. For being able to return to his task as if there had been no distraction.

What a journey motherhood is! It’s so big I am silenced for words. There is just an emotion, understood within the circle of women.

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Behind the scenes of a landscaped yard is a squirrel running up the tree. A spider busy spinning his dinner. A lady bug being watched by my four year old. Flowers being picked by my two year old. Pinecones waiting to be played with. Rocks waiting to be treasured.

Behind the scenes of my front door is family life. I watch how they walk. How they play. I listen to their voice. Their sounds. Their cries. I touch their skin, their hair and cuddle them close. I look into their eyes. I notice the books and movies they choose. The songs they sing to themselves. I notice their emotions, their reactions, trying to make sense of who they are. I am memorising all that I can.

I just re-read the 1,000 words that you just read and one word came to my mind: details. My life has become a life full of noticing details, dissecting those details, making some sense of those details. And I wonder, if I, like the passing cars that we count, am a detail in someone else’s story. A detail among the other millions of people living in this country. And yet here you are, dear friend reading these details of my life.  And with that thought, I’ll close with a quote from my four year old prince, ” thank you for realising me”.

A Foreign Community, An Extended Family- A True Story

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Many years ago when I lived in Sweden, in my early 2o’s, I had my own apartment in a community made up of foreignors. The buildings were tall, brightly painted with huge numbers so addresses were easy to find. I was number 74 V.2. We were from everywhere. Brazil, Iran, Pakistan, Argentina, Russia, different countries from Africa, America, Poland, Chile, Peru, Iraq, India, and many more. Ironically, technically, I am Swedish. I do not have the stereotypical blonde hair and blue eyes like all my cousins, and I didn’t (still don’t) speak with the same Swedish accent, but I am a Swede. A Swede who seemed to fit better in this international neighbourhood.

Here, I remember especially the women. They’d smile at me and shout out a “hello” in their language as they beat their rugs outside, and I felt they instantly accepted me as one of their own. Sure I’ll pretend a second to be Bolivian! Hola! Okay that was the only one I knew at the time, to the others I just smiled back. These women cooked with open windows and the smell of their food made my mouth water. Where ever I went, there was a woman with children closeby. Be it her own, or her grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, children were everywhere. I was fascinated that all these people from around the world had found their way here.

Across the courtyard from me lived a close friend that I had met and gotten to know. Her family was Assyrian from Iran. I later learned to greet them with a word that sounded like it would be spelled “schlamalockhone”. Her parents didn’t speak much Swedish but it didn’t matter. They were so kind to me! Spending time in their home made me realise how my friends must have felt visiting my family. They only knew English and my family spoke Swedish at home! In time I learned the sounds of their language and when I heard others at bus stops or shops, I always knew if they were speaking their dialect of Assyrian or not and I would greet them with a friendly “schlamalockhone”.

My friend’s mother was such a busy body. From what I observed, she cooked a big pot of food each morning. I can still almost taste her meatballs with buttery rice on the side.Whoever came to the house could have some food and there was always plenty to eat. She then spent the rest of her day helping others. Every day! On days where she was home cleaning, she had the TV on a channel that played her home music. Have you heard of Arabic oldies? I loved it! I became infused by their culture. They easily made me feel like I had more than just friends as neighbours, they were my extended family.

One Christmas I was the only one in my family in Sweden. Christmas Eve was spent with my aunt and cousins and it was wonderful to learn more in depth the Swedish traditions. Christmas day was spent with my Assyrian family. We put on our best dress and went to… I think it was their grandparents home. See the importance of keeping a journal? Memory is so unreliable. So many people were there! And I had no idea what anyone was saying but it was great. More kindness was shown to me. The grandfather said these words, as my friend translated them for me: “Today we understand that you miss your family. Today we will adopt you as one of our own. Feel at home.” He then invited me to bless the big Christmas meal! I was honored! The food was out of this world delicious.

After the meal they all sat around the large living room and sang traditional songs, I had learned some of their dances and joined in on those. It was time for presents but there was so many people I only remember envelopes of money. I watched my friend and her sister open theirs, then I opened mine and we had all gotten the same amount. My heart swelled with gratitude that I was truly accepted that day and I did not feel alone or left out at all. God bless those people for opening their heart and home to me.

I’ll never forget the warm summer nights my friend and I would slowly walk around the footpath that outlined our entire community. We talked for hours. Everything from earth to heaven, our pasts and hopes for the future and probably literally EVERYTHING. Women do have a gift of talking. During our walk, we walked past a soccer field that was right in the middle of the neighbourhood. The older boys playing with the younger ones like little brothers and including them in their game. We walked past whole families who were also out walking, husband, wife and children enjoying the evening stroll. I watched them and thought, I want that one day too! Evening strolls with my family.

Family is always there when we need a friend. Or are friends there when we need family? Either way, this night she was. It was at about 2am, I woke up with an intense pain in my leg. It was a pain that had resulted in a knee injury 3 years before. I went into the kitchen and panicked when I realised I had no painkillers left. This pain would only get worse and it was unbearable. I called her. At 2am she actually answered her phone! She lived at the top of her apartment building and had to come all the way down to open the door for me. In her flat she offered me food and medicine and I simply stayed the night. She was so much more than a friend. She was like a sister. Always there and never upset with me.

I remember talking to her a lot about how much I missed home- Ohio. And it was a hard time for me. But looking back I realise more and more that those years in Sweden had become some of my biggest blessings in life. I cannot thank God enough for the experiences I had, for the life long friendships that were built, for the lessons I would not have otherwise learned. Yes, sometimes trials are blessings in disguise.

And I thank God for my extended family around the world.

xx

(photo credit)

“You heading home?”

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Many years ago while living in London, I sat on the bus after work on my way back to the HOUSE I rented on King George Avenue. For a long time I was so sensitive to the word home  that I made sure I always referred to my dwelling as “the house” and not home. On that bus, lost in thought I must have had a dazed look on my face as another passenger had said to me, “You heading home?”

I couldn’t help my answer, “I’m far from home.”

This fellow passenger seemed to understand my reply (we both had non-british accents) with a nod of his head. Instead of prying for details, he let the conversation go with, “One of the last stops eh?”

I smiled and nodded as I returned to my thoughts: when will I really get to go back HOME.

I thought about this very short conversation with a stranger as I now sit on the couch with my two sons and I am back in Ohio.

In my younger childhood years I recall a popular teeshirt that had the saying “Home is Where the Heart is.”

If home is where my heart is, then my heart is in pieces.

A piece in Sweden. Another piece in England. And a big piece never left Ohio.

Or am I thinking all wrong? Home is not a location, its my heart. And my heart belongs to my family. No matter where in this world we live, home is always there. And here.

For someone who moves a lot I suppose I have to think like that.

Today’s positive thought: It’s good to be HOME.

xx

(photo credit)

The Broken Roads in America

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Or maybe it’s just Ohio? Even my three year old noticed. We were walking home from Grandma’s house, one street over, when he tripped on the sidewalk and fell.

“The road is broke” he said.

Another time we had just parked the car and were on our way towards the store. He pointed to the ground and said, “Mommy the roads here are broke.”

And he’s right. Cracked parking lots. Holes in the middle of streets. Uneven sidewalks that suddenly end.

Perhaps he noticed this because in England, where we were just a few months ago, he never tripped on jagged roads and sidewalks were covered with snails or poop, not cracks.

My son’s observations had me thinking about broken roads. Not the literal ones I have just described, but rather the roads we travel in life that sometimes break.

Sometimes as we get about our life, suddenly we trip and fall. We didn’t see it when maybe we should have. We weren’t prepared for it so we scraped our knee or our hand and it hurt and we got mad, but now we are more careful and paying closer attention. Making better choices.

Sometimes our paths seem to dead end. Now what to do? Where to go? We have to find a different direction. It will still take us to the place we are heading, and it may feel like a detour, but maybe that other way had a purpose for us. Maybe we met someone along the way who was lost and needed directions. Maybe we found a quarter along the way, and with that quarter we were able to buy something that was needed. Who knows. Sometimes things happen in our life so we can help others. It’s not always about us.

Maybe the detour gave us the extra time we needed to just breathe and think and gather some peace to our minds. If we are too busy and being one-track minded, we forget to stop and just enjoy what God has given us. The warmth from sunshine. Beautiful trees to admire. Singing birds to listen to. When the sidewalk suddenly ended, we thought it was an obstacle, looking back we realise it was actually a blessing.

Maybe the roads aren’t even broke.

It’s just rough terrain. Each block of cement, or obstacle we face, is serving its purpose and building our character along the way.

x

(photo credit)