Karis asleep in her car seat, a rare moment of peace these days.
The winds are changing again in our household. I've been feeling a change of pace slowly creeping up on us the last couple of weeks. I think we're in the thick of the changes now, and I'm afeared I can't see my way out of the forest around me. I'm in need of some perspective, to say the least.
For starters, Karis is just shy of the two year mark, and she has hit the "terrible two's" stage. And when I say she hit it, I mean she is fully engrossed and completely drenched in this stage, leaving me tale spinning from the transformation. The remarkable thing about this though is that it literally happened overnight. She went to bed Sunday night a relatively even-keeled little girl and woke up on Monday a moody, stubborn teenager. While I have aversion to calling this stage "terrible", I'll admit that it is aptly named, if for no other reason than it brings out the terrible in me. The really terrible. A wild dragon of anger, a deep well of frustration, and an endless longing to escape it all...and that is just my half of things. Add her moodiness and brazen disregard for my authority and you have a recipe for a very.long.next.few.months (and here's to hoping it's only that long!). It's a good thing I immersed myself in 2 hours of the raw gospel this morning at my mom's group. I need to be hosed down in the truth daily.
I pulled a muscle in my shoulder of couple of weeks ago, and so I've been walking around like an old lady, holding in my left arm and extending it only to stop Karis from running in traffic or when I forget and load the dryer and re-injure it. It has made things more difficult, and I find myself hoping against all hope that this injury heals soon. It hit me the other day that my suffering is so small compared to others. It's a thought that I angrily dismissed when it first came to mind. But I'm reminded that life is about trusting and waiting.
I'm also realizing life is about process, the stuff that happens "in the mean time," before you achieve your goals. I'm not good with process. The other night I stayed up late trying to get the kitchen perfectly spotless. I knew my husband was hoping I'd come relax with him in bed. I found myself repeating, "Process, Alina. It's about process." But process be damned, I argued back and continued to scrub the counters. I want results: A clean kitchen. A healthy arm. A well-behaved child.
So back to the truth I go, diving right in to the basics. Repentance, Forgiveness, Trust. Over and over again. How many times a day will I have to remind myself?!
Process, Alina. Process.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Karis asleep in her car seat, a rare moment of peace these days.
Posted by Alina at 10:27 PM
Friday, April 24, 2009
::A toy that rocks
Matt was looking through the artwork section of our local Goodwill when he heard a gleeful, "Weeee! Weeee!" He turned around to find Karis rocking back and forth on her own piece of artwork, a wooden rocking horse, in excellent condition. The happy little shopper sold us immediately on the toy. Of course, the $6 price tag didn't hurt.
I'm so grateful for our recent membership to the JCA, a local Jewish community center complete with a gym, exercise classes, and fantastic childcare. Really, I'm beyond thankful. I get to sweat and feel young again while knowing Karis is getting safe social interaction.
We walked through the front doors today to be greeted by the receptionist and about 20 loaves of gorgeous challah. I couldn't resist. I mean, really, how beautiful is this bread?! When Matt and his co-worker came home today on their lunch break, they caught me in the middle of my photo shoot. They looked at me and the bread and then asked in disbelief, "Is that real?" Yes. And incredibly delicious. I think French toast is on the menu for breakfast tomorrow.
::A Mexican compromise
I'm an extrovert, and Matt is an introvert. I have been begging to have people over more often, and Matt said he would enjoy a party atmosphere on Friday nights to celebrate the work week's end. Thus, out of the ashes of our marital discord, Mexican Fridays have been born. Spicy fajitas, a casual atmosphere, friends in our home. And beer. Yes, let's not forget about that. This week we had some good friends over for Mexican Thursday. I learned that no matter what day of the week it is, whenever fresh pico de gallo is involved, it's a party.
Posted by Alina at 7:53 PM
Monday, April 20, 2009
The dishwasher is chugging along in the kitchen. Karis is asleep in the room on my left, and Matt snores away in the room north of me. I would be sleeping, but I got up to check the stove. All knobs are off. They always are.
Matt took last Friday off of work so we could rest. Three solid days together as a family, and rest we did not. There was shopping, organizing, cleaning, and gardening to be done. We felt like we accomplished a lot by weekend's end, though I did make a comment to him that perhaps we need to be more intentional about our "down time"...like, you know, do some resting. Once that bug of productivity hits us, all moderation and community goals are thrown out the window. I don't want to become the hermit couple with a well organized home. (shudder)
Look who has joined the morning watering ritual. On Saturday, I filled the can and asked her to help me water the gardens. It was love at first pour. I'm not sure what she loved more: caring for the flowers, helping mom, or watching the water come out the spout. She found it challenging to hold the heavy can and control where the spray landed. I'm pretty sure we have the best watered concrete boarders in the whole neighborhood.
Posted by Alina at 10:27 PM
Thursday, April 16, 2009
They played together for hours, Karis and her friend E. Flowers were sniffed and toys passionately disputed over. Their personalities are so different; Karis babbled on the whole time about everything, while E was quiet, taking it all in, and only speaking when she needed to eat. We loved having her over to play and even scheduled another date for next week.
I cooked chicken fajitas with sauteed peppers and onions out on our grill tonight. The aroma of the dish cooking on the gas burner smelled so much better than it ever has when cooked indoors on the electric coil burners. I've been wanting to find a way to cook more with the raw element of fire. Something about being out on the patio, in the open air, cooking over an open flame...it made me feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway, with hands up triumphantly in the air, rejoicing over his hard-earned flames.
Easter has me longing for redemption. I was looking forward to going to church on Easter Sunday in NYC, and although we didn't make it to a service, I found myself humming all day long the words to the song "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." So many areas in my life and in those people around me has me longing for that deep, restorative, "everything made brand new" kind of redemption. I love Easter's promise.
Posted by Alina at 10:06 PM
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Andrew waiting for the train.
I realize I haven't updated since my first two entries posted amid the flurry of activity in New York City. I definitely spun my wheels until they could spin no more. Saturday's schedule was just as full as the previous two days' itinerary. There was a shopping trip to the Flatbush coop for organic groceries, a visit to a Brooklyn art exhibition, early dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant, my official favorite cappuccino to date in Park Slope, and drinks at Milano's, the second oldest bar in Manhattan. Whew! I barely made it home on the subway that night without passing out. It was all so fun and inspiring and memorable.
Building where Art Exhibition was held.
I was encouraged by meeting one of Andrew's friends at the art exhibition. An aspiring photographer herself, she has dreams and ambitions much like my own. That was affirming to discover, and I find my own goals for photography taking shape after such an inspiring weekend.
Me, in Prospect Park. Photo courtesy of my brother.
As awesome as this all was, I was so grateful to come back to my husband and daughter. I love our life we've built, and I was glad to realize that I wouldn't trade it for all the international glamour of NYC.
Matt picked me up from the airport, and on the ride home we had a very near encounter with the side rail of the interstate, thanks to a car full of criminals evading the cops (a dozen cops following closely behind). I, of course, found the close scare very ironic considering I just returned from NYC, a place stereotyped for it's criminal activity. Not a proud moment for Jacksonville.
Heavy winds whipped around our little home last night and this morning. They were so strong, at one point, that I took Karis and hid in our windowless hallway and played until the most ferocious moments passed. I love spring rains, even with the tornado warnings and downed trees they bring with them.
It's been a full 7 days, and we are all looking forward to catching up on some much missed sleep.
Andrew in front of Prospect Park.
2nd Annual Represent Brooklyn Art Exhibition.
Posted by Alina at 2:14 PM
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Seeing:: a purple sky, a dark building with one window lit, and a couple waiting for their train. The man eventually noticed I was taking their picture, and in my final shot he bent over backwards in an exaggerated dancer's pose. I smiled and waved before the subway zipped between us and interrupted the exchange.
Smelling:: the full, yeasty aroma of a glass of organic wine at dinner. A nonchalant first sniff turned into a more committed second sniff, my nose completely disappearing into the glass to take it all in.
Tasting:: fresh, creamy goat cheese tossed in a vinaigrette with greens, tomatoes, and crispy French bacon.
Hearing:: the specials described by our French waitress. Her lovely accent made even her offers to refill our water glasses sound like poetry.
Touching:: a sweet gift by my brother's girlfriend. A beautiful pea green mug, silver earrings, and a passport cover featuring a print of vintage birds, true inspiration to apply for my passport.
:: a cozy subway ride home on a rainy evening in Brooklyn.
Posted by Alina at 10:28 AM
Friday, April 10, 2009
I packed my favorite black suitcase, kissed the good, good man that is my husband, waved goodbye to my daughter, and headed into the Jacksonville airport. I squealed a little under my breath. "Bon Voyage" and "Happy Birthday to me" kept going through my head. I went through security, was stopped and subsequently searched, the illegal bottles of shampoo and conditioner swiftly confiscated. I shrugged and walked off knowing that on any other day the scenario would annoy me. But not today. This weekend is about celebrating.
I sat in the terminal, pulled out my laptop, drank my iced americano, and read emails through my intermittent people watching. I had no tiny hands to corale, no one else to discuss the plan with. Just me. I emailed Matt and told him how immensely I was enjoying myself though I hadn't even left the airport. He later told me he envisioned me having kicked my shoes off. Let me tell you, it came pretty close to that.
I boarded the plane headed for NYC with a layover in DC. The first flight was uneventful. Had a chance to organize my photos...a job I always think about doing but can never find suitable time to do such a laborious but necessary task.
We flew over the Pentagon, and I marveled at how small it was considering it's national significance. I guess I always imagined it being much grander. Maybe my perspective was off because I was flying above it. The layover was short, and then we boarded the second plane. I accidentally jammed my knee in the rear of the girl sitting next to me as she tried to squeeze past me. That was awkward. We both laughed it off. Thank goodness planes are an instance where typical space rules don't apply, otherwise that offense might have qualified as physical assault.
I landed in New York without incident. I was greeted with taxis, swiftly walking people, a rainbow of shades of black clothing, and city energy. Yes, I love this. Yes. Yes. Yes.
This trip is a generous gift from my older brother. Known as "Uncle City" to his nieces, too me, he's my successful, New York-wise brother...who knows how to give a good birthday present.
We didn't waist any time getting the city fun started. First off was a trip to a Russian bar for oysters on the half shell, a fig martini, and a lychee cucumber martini. I have never had raw oysters. Let me here announce: I LOVE RAW OYSTERS! I'll admit, I never thought they could be so good. I imagined they wouldn't have any taste since they were raw. Turns out, they have all the amazing oyster flavor of the cooked variety but with a delicious raw texture, complimented beautifully by shallot vinegar and horseradish sauce. (Sigh)
From there we made our way to a Pan-Asian restaurant and ate salt and pepper shrimp, shrimp dumplings, and seafood tossed with Cantonese noodles. During our time at both places, we had fun pulling out the Nikon and taking pictures of the low lighting and urban atmosphere. This might be everyday for Andrew, but it's a lifetime of inspiration for me.
In good city fashion, we strolled around after dinner, walking swiftly, block by block, avoiding aggressive drivers and sketchy people. We settled in Little Italy at an outdoor cafe and partook of "the best cannoli on the planet" and espresso. The cannoli didn't live up to the hype, but the people-watching was primo.
Three restaurants were enough for me, and I expressed interest in heading back to his apartment. It was, afterall, midnight, and this homebody had reached her limit for the night. We hopped in his car and headed to his home in Brooklyn, where he checked in to see if I wanted to go to one of his favorite night spots in his neighborhood. I was flattered that he thought I might have that kind of energy, but I said I'd rather head in to bed. I had, afterall, been struggling with insomnia all week and had a date lined up with Ambien.
I heart Ambien. Really and truly. There is nothing like sleep to rejuvenate. In fact, I might go take a nap right now. Andrew is taking me out for French food tonight to celebrate my birthday. I need all the energy I can muster for French cuisine.
My cup runneth over.
Posted by Alina at 12:37 PM
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
:: A jewelry collection to die for.
:: An inherited lamp (standing 3 ft. tall), proof that some heirlooms are meant to be graciously declined.
:: A cabinet full of colorful tchotchke's.
:: A lone hibiscus flower blowing in the wind.
:: A mosaic dolphin in ice blue waters.
:: Orange blossoms with an aroma so intoxicating that sometimes I think I love them more than the fruit they eventually become.
We are having a good time visiting my parents in south Florida. The sun is shining, the humidity is rising, and my parents' a/c is on the fritz. Bad timing aside, I'm loving the sights in and around my parents' home.
Posted by Alina at 4:26 PM
Paper plate: noun, a disposable plate made of cardboard.
Today I learned of another use. Once veggies and dip have been consumed, a paper plate makes an excellent telephone.
I'm not sure who was on the other line or what she was discussing, but she spoke so seriously, only to follow it up with roaring laughter.
I was impressed and thought it quite genius, though I'm fairly certain Alexander Graham Bell would not appreciate his world-changing invention being reduced to cardboard and an overactive imagination.
Posted by Alina at 12:36 AM