Tag: Happying



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An ode to espresso

Espresso is darker than you might think underneath that caramel cloud, bold, bitter-rich, and supremely confident. If you add as much sugar as I do, it goes down like a burnt-umber glaze, and you could feel its intensity on your tongue for days if you were willing to forego toothpaste. Sipping it roasts your tongue and sends after-shocks down your throat, a bolt of liquid electricity… and then your mind begins to unfurl.

I learned this over Sunday dinners with friends our first year here in Italy. After the vermouth-soaked olives and the melting mountains of pasta and the veal and the salad and the pears and the tiramisu, after the children bounded away from the table and the chatter slowed to a contented lull, after the dishes were cleared and there was nothing left to do but relax, the tiny porcelain cups would come out. The espresso machine would croon its guttural love notes, the sugar bowl would give up its bouquet of silver teaspoons, and we would sip the last few steps to total tranquility.

Five years later, I can’t tell you whether or not I like the taste of espresso… but it’s not the taste that hangs my afternoons on this small pleasure. It’s the liturgy of contentment. It’s the infusion of courage and caffeine, the slow rhythm reset, and finally, the clarity. 


How do you take your coffee? And what significance does it hold for you?


New Month’s Resolutions

  1. Bake cookies. It’s been far too long.
  2. Forego so much as new socks and go all Dave Ramsey on our credit card’s ass.
  3. Haul my sleepy bones out in the fresh air and give my work-out shoes a run (ha!) for their money.
  4. Cultivate gratitude.
    (For the first snowfall of the year, the air dancing white;
    For a washing machine up to the repeated challenge of sick days;
    For beauty growing wild out of old hurts;
    For sugar-dusted sunsets lingering one minute closer to spring.)

What about you? Any dear little challenges to keep February on its toes?


Prayer and Pixie Dust

This might sound crazy, but I prayed for Disney World.

By the tail end of our month in the States, our Christmas trip was beginning to resemble a parade of unavoidable expenses—tolls, Urgent Care x 2, gasoline x a million, and ever-mounting bureaucratic fees for the paperwork we had traveled to get—and despite the gorgeous generosity of friends and family who welcomed us in, we just couldn’t swing a day with Mickey Mouse.

That realization hurt like a choke chain yanking us straight back to our credit card bill. There we were in Orlando for the last time in our foreseeable future with a few days to spare and two little girls who spent a solid 45 minutes in the Disney Store pretending to be princesses.  The girls weren’t expecting anything more, and maybe that was part of why I ached so much to take them… especially Natalie who softly read every Disney World billboard we passed on the way to get her broken arm set. So I prayed.

You should know I’m no good at praying. The church traditions of my past have left a script in my mind from which I rarely find words to deviate. I don’t know how to be honest with my head bowed and eyes closed. Instead, I’ve learned how to feel, careful not to muddy my heart’s surface with thoughts, and I imagine that I’m directing that feeling toward someone who cares. This time, logic scolded me for asking God for something so frivolous when people all over the world struggle with very real needs. My brain followed this up with a cynical laugh because really, I expected someone to just up and offer $400 worth of tickets to a strange little family from Italy? My heart wouldn’t stop hoping though, so I blocked out cynicism and logic and felt as earnestly as I could, following up with “please.”

And wouldn’t you know, someone just up and offered $400 worth of tickets to our strange little family two days before we returned to Italy.

Words can’t express.

The girls leading the way - 2

We’re back in Italy now, adjusting to the time difference and unpacking far more than we remember packing, and if jet lag weren’t already doing the job, my gratefulness at being home would keep me in a waking stupor. A string of miracles is the only thing that got us there and back again, which anyone who’s ever approached Italian government offices with a deadline can confirm. We’re starting 2012 with little certainty but with enough hope and possibility to make up for it fifty times over, and each time the choke chain has started to tighten this week, I’ve relaxed back into the glow of this—answered prayer, extra pixie dust included.

Disney World collage


Alasment Period

This is it—the Adjustment Period. I didn’t expect the choppy swaying to hit quite so soon after I announced we were cutting our financial mooring lines, but we’re riding full on the swells now and stumbling our way to sea legs. It’s fantastic having my husband working from home and so, so good to see him energized rather than deflated by work, but I’ve gotta admit, being the one to leave in the mornings with the car keys and a briefcase is… strange.

Our days have an unfamiliar cadence to them now. We’re using new vocabulary and penciling appointments into uncharted waters, and while I’m utterly grateful for the possibilities ahead, I’m also utterly discombobulated. No matter how good all of this change is, it’s still change, and I’m responding with my best impression of a hungover sailor. It’s quite attractive, I’m sure.

Even though the rational side of my brain assures me that an Adjustment Period is necessary and that it’s only natural to feel like I’ve drunk a captain-sized stash of moldy rum at any given time, my emotional side is wallowing in alas… as in, Alas, I’ll never find my groove! and Alas, I  shall never write anything meaningful ever again! Like I said, attractive.

So here’s my counterstrike to all the “Alas”es sloshing around my unsteady feet—
5 sources of home-front happiness this week:

  1. Having my dearly bearded husband back from a business trip
  2. The accompanying backrubs
  3. Tag-teaming on everything from dirty dishes to dirty kids
  4. Rearranging rooms and letting clutter go without regret
  5. Enjoying these last few days with the girls before school starts

Your turn!


I Want S’more

It’s a good thing today is a holiday because we’re all still in a sun-stupor. Breakfast was so late that we decided to count it as lunch. Naptime was non-negotiable—for any of us—and a homemade chocolate frappuccino courtesy of my ever-thoughtful Dan was the only thing that pulled me upright afterward. We’ve skipped almost all socially recommended forms of getting ready for the day (read: clothes) and gotten straight to work lounging away the afternoon. Time consuming, that one is.

While I wish I had something more profound or provocative to write today, truth is that my mind is still back at the campground doing cannonballs into the pond and swinging two-by-two in hammocks and cheating at Crazy Uno to help the little ones win. My thoughts are still soaking up purple mountains at sunset and the happy-making mess of s’mores, s’mores everywhere. I’m still cocooned in a sleeping bag nest with my husband and exclaiming over fish (as only true city dwellers do) with the girls and piling around a picnic table with friends. And I’m going to go ahead and say that’s okay.

The splash formerly known as Bethany

What were your favorite moments from the weekend?


Law-Abiding Weekenders

Just because it’s Saturday

and because our week fancied itself a trampolinist

and because sunlight is dripping jewel-toned off every leaf

and because scrambled eggs are best eaten outdoors

and because Monday is Ferragosto

so we are pretty much bound by law to do so,

we’re gallivanting off for the weekend to do this:

 Daddy and Natalie brave the pond first

Catch ya on the flip side.


Recovering Pessimist at Work

Bits of bright in an 18° cloud leak (65ish° for those of you who feel in Fahrenheit… and can this possibly be July??):

Cookies and silly songs for a breakfast picnic

Three-year-olds who choose their own outfits

Guess who dressed herself

21 GB of happy trip photos

Homemade peach ice cream (eaten with sweatshirts on, of course)

Peach ice cream

Quirky music videos

Six-year-olds who live and breathe pink

Little Miss Pink

Sky blue toenail polish (hidden under slipper socks, but still)

Two words: coffee toffee

Not having to water the plants (Dan’s optimistic spin on the day)

At least the plants don't need watering

Spontaneous hugs

Hiding under froggy blankets invisibility cloaks

Hiding from the weather

A sunny forecast… for next week.


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