Tag Archives: family

A love letter to Papa

I don’t really remember when it was that you first told me that you read my blog, but it meant the world to me that it meant something to you.  Your comments are my favorite.

It was like when we first got you a facebook, and you went crazy.  You were connected to your kids and your grandkids in a way that you never had before, because even though we were spread all over the country (and at times, the world), you were in our lives.

I chuckled and told my mom about that one time when you emailed me because you saw a facebook photo of a guy with his arm around me.  You just wanted to know who he was.  I smiled because it was just an old friend on graduation day, but I loved how much you cared.  And trust me, when there finally is a guy who’s putting his arm around me, you’ll be one of the first to know.

Remember when we went to the Father/Daughter Ball together?  Dad took Mychelle, and I had the pleasure of being escorted by lovely grandfather.  I wore my red prom dress.  We danced, even though it made you really uncomfortable.  I always felt a little bad because I thought I pushed you too much to do it.  But you danced wonderfully, and I was proud to have you as my partner.

When I was a little kid, I always liked listening to you talk at holiday gatherings.  I actually preferred it to playing with the other kids, unless you were talking insurance.  That conversation always bored me, but other than that, I liked what you said.

I didn’t say much when I would listen, because I was mostly just learning and didn’t feel like I had much to contribute.  But as I got older, I started talking too.  I took so much pride in the fact that you actually listened to what I had to say and considered it valuable information.  You can always tell when people listen and don’t really care, but you did.  And even more than that, you listened like you thought what I had to say was intelligent.

I feel like that was a transitioning phase.  When I was really young, you always played board games with Andrew and me.  I schemed 4 way trades in Monopoly, inevitably taking advantage of Oma who always seemed willing to trade 2 railroads for something like Baltic Ave to please her placating granddaughter.  We played Flinch and Clue and Junior Bridge too.  You and Andrew always won the games, but they were fun.

So when I was little, we played games.  When I got older, I listened to you talk.  Then we talked together.

When I heard you were sick today, I was very scared.  But the truth is, almost more than any hurt you were going through at the time, I was thinking about the day (whenever that day is) that you will go and literally hang out with Jesus for the first time.  It didn’t mask any pain or concern about you at the hospital or how Oma was doing, but it was a transcending peace.

I’m by no means ready for you to leave me.  I don’t think I’ll ever will be either, but it was still a really cool and powerful thought.

I’ve had the great pleasure of being born into a family where I’ve had two relational grandfathers.  I remember talking to my mom about what kind of pastor you are.  She always emphasized how good you are with visitation and showing your love to people.

I see that in how you take care of Oma, always putting her first.  Whoever I marry is going to be a lot like you.

I love you Papa. Please get well soon.


Grip the moments

I’ve been struck by a few things so far this Christmas season.  Among them, how truly nice it is to be home.  The mountains in Santiago may have floored me, but the flat land and triangular roofs feel much more comfortable than the red clay tiles ever did.

Though it is more uncomfortable than ever to fit the six (seven when Andrew’s girlfriend was visiting) of us into the van, we do it fine.  Mychelle still yells to have the music turned down, “please turn the radio on” still means Rush to dad, and he who sits in the middle left seat, being by the controls, still determines whether everyone else in the back of the car is cold or not,  but other than that…it’s been great.

Like Tuesday night when I took the younger two out for Starbucks downtown.  I made a real big deal of it, and we walked around outside with our coffee.  Watson even went as far as to offer both of his arms to his sisters and escorted us by the Embassy Theater and Botanical Gardens.

We ended up in front of the large wreath at the Summit building where Mychelle and I took turns dancing with Watson.  I can’t recall ever having so much fun with my younger siblings.

We have been taking advantage of some great deals over at Pro Bowl West, where we’ve been twice this week now.  Having not bowled since high school, I’ve been far from impressive, but it’s been fun.


Honestly, just about every moment has been perfect.

The cow might be black and white

But finding the milk, not so easy.

My vocabulary and comfortability with certain grammar structures is limiting, but I think my own timidity is the more serious problem.  I feel like that’s an awkward description, because I can’t think of any other time when shy is an appropriate adjective to describe of me.

The milk here is different.  Somebody said it’s because it’s not pasteurized, and that seems like a reasonable explanation, although I really have no idea.  It tastes a little different, comes in little plastic boxes, and isn’t refrigerated at the grocery store.  On my first day, my host mom asked me if I liked hot or cold milk, and I involuntarily looked at her a little incredulously.  The only time I’ve ever even heard of drinking warm milk was in Bing Crosby’s sandwich serenade to Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas.

Anyways, this morning, the milk I usually drink wasn’t in the fridge, but there was a curiously looking bottle that resembled the packaging of American milk.  I quickly scanned the bottle, saw on the back it said “mix with cereal,” so drenched my big bowl of chocolate lovers cereal in it and figured it’d be fine.   Yeah…not so much.

It was thin like milk, and  white like milk.   But didn’t taste like any milk I’ve ever known.  Going off of the whole none-of-the-milk-here-tastes-the-same and they-drink-hot-milk-here thing, I figured it was just a sweetened variety.

My host parents joined me in the middle of breakfast, and I sat there with a straight face hoping they wouldn’t figure out what I had done, and I just about made it.  I had just finished my awful bowl of cereal and was getting up to leave, when my host mom was started digging through the fridge.  After a minute, her head shot up from behind the door and she looked at me with wide-eyed curiosity.    She held the “milk” in her hand, and asked what I had put on my cereal.

It was yogurt.

My host parents felt really bad, but it wasn’t their fault.  I saw the normal milk on the counter shelf, but I didn’t want to open a new container.  I figured that since they drink cold milk in my house, somebody would have replaced the milk in the fridge when it was empty.  Hence, the “sweet milk” must be what we were suppose to use.  It seemed quite logical at the time.

In retrospect, I should have just told them I had poured something funky and sweet on my cereal.  I am used to eating food that I mess up (crunchy spaghetti, freezer burned hamburger, etc), but I suppose there is a line.  And yogurt with a milky consistency on chocolate cereal probably crosses that line.

Speaking in Spanish when I’m nervous is hard, but it will get better in time.  I left after breakfast for church.  I was really excited because I am always very comfortable in churches in the US, even ones I’ve never been to before.  This was going to be my opportunity to plug into something very normal for me, and do it in Spanish.  Best of all, I found what looks like a great church about 10 minutes from my house.

It might be close, but I still spent an hour walking around trying to find Calle de Víctor de la Serna.  I never did end up making it to church, but I had to guts to ask a woman on the street for directions.  Speaking to strangers always makes me nervous, because they often talk fast.   But with the milk incident at the forefront of my mind, I did it anyways.

I later got chewed out at home for not calling my family and asking for directions, so I guess I’m only taking one step at a time.  But at least my mistakes are making me bolder.  I’ll get there soon enough.

Path on fort in Portugal

I have a family!

We received our housing assignments today.  As always, a lot of people requested a family with kids.  There are never enough families available to accommodate our requests.  The other housing options are living with 1) a (usually retired) couple 2) a widow.   Any of the options would have been fine, but I was really hoping to have kids to practice my Spanish with, and I do.

I am living on the north side of Madrid with a couple in their mid-30s, their 16 year and 5 year old daughters, and a puppy.  And several of my friends live within 15 minutes of me 🙂   I move in tomorrow.