his twelve months

This guy.
big guy in december
I am well aware that he celebrated his 15 month birthday this past weekend. And since month 4, through continents and hotels and temporary moments, into a time of transition and accustoming and settling, we have still been marking his months. It is the fullness of the moments that have left them unshared, though not unsavored.
There is some advantage to going back through his months by retrospect. There is something about looking back that brings a deeper smile than the one I wore in the moments after. At the time, there was an image I wanted to capture, a look that defined the month, his true self, and the edge of disappointment or frustration when that envisioned image did not form on the other side of the lens. Now as I look at them, at him, I only see the image that is, not the one I wanted it to be. It is the moment that truly was instead of any moment that I wanted to force into being.
So here are the 12 moments that were. That were him, in his exhaustion or drool or frustration or elation. The moments that represent the reality of him in the moment, the 28th of each month for a year. [To take a look back to that day he met us here, see his story].
And then there is her. The sister, the doter, the antagonist, the assistant, the distractor, the frustrater, the absolute pure lover. Them, together, my soul rejoices and my heart swells in gratitude. Really, God? Me, for this joy? Thank you.
his sister
This year (plus!) with him. So full in its expectation and fruition. His personality both formed at birth and forming as he grows. Laid back and observant of the world, often satisfied to sit back, to take it in from his daddy’s lap or his mama’s arms. His daddy’s biggest fan—always greeting with a spontaneous heart-filled smile and full-speed crawl to his waiting arms. He loves the air, and the exhilaration of the weightless flight. Over and over and over, breathless giggles. He throws himself backward, dangerously close to being released head first onto the floor, just for the exhilaration of seeing the world from upside down, blood rushing to and from his head. Giddy for more. His squinty smile face, mirroring mine in exuberance, is impressed on my heart and in my mind, with prayers it never fades. And dancing, always dancing. To the song I didn’t even notice, with moves that would make Michael Jackson proud. The smile that evokes expression from every person at the grocery store, like a gift for them, and a smile returned. The way he responds to his sister—with expectation, complete role model, the one who can evoke all emotion, hugs and sweet lean-in-for-it kisses.
And a favorite, the moment he rests his head and sucks hard on his thumb, against my chest, as I sing a soft song of Hope in the darkness of their room and then release him into dreamland. Gratefulness and a prayer for his future all wrapped up in that one moment every night. “That he will shine among them like stars in the sky as he holds firmly to the word of life.” That he lives full and kind and bold, never losing that smile.
that smile
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our whisper’s Moo’d

When I stumbled upon this creamy cold milkshake last year, that she so shrewdly calls a “smoothie”, it revolutionized the satisfaction of our evening cravings.

My Moo'd

Not long after the kids are in bed and the kitchen is cleaned up from the equally welcomed and overwhelming mess of a well-loved family meal, that quiet voice of discontent whispers its first words…still hungry…or, is that hungry again? Surely the energy expended between dinner and a clean dining room floor is enough to justify the calling of the impending sweet tooth.

When our eating philosophy morphed last year, it opened the doors to a surge of creativity in all things culinary–not the least of which is that oh-so-persuasive call of dessert–or the meal-after-the-meal as it might more aptly be labeled in our family. Chopped fresh fruit with nuts and chocolate chips is a go-to, and this most amazing apple nacho concept is a staple in our house, too.

But then, this, the milkshake. Dairy-free, really? Yup. Refined-sugar free? Yup (unless you count the chocolate chips…I don’t). Whole foods? Yup(ish). And because my heart (ok, more like the emotionally connected part of my mind to my mouth) continually returns to a desire for the creamy, peanut buttery, chocolatey-ness of the Peanut Butter Moo’d (the incredibly amazing and deceptively outraegous Jamba non-smoothie smoothie)…this little “smoothie” has become the occasional, perfect answer to our post-dinner whisper of discontent.

Tonight, it was especially lovely. So, thought I’d share.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake
Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free (almost)

2 frozen bananas (frozen at ripe and browning stage, don’t ignore this frozen part–you’ll regret it)
1 cup ice cubes
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter (unsalted worked well)
1 tsp white vinegar (not sure why but I always add it because she does)
1 Tbsp agave nectar (or maple syrup)
3/4 c vanilla soy milk (divided…and maybe more depending…)
1/4 c dairy-free chocolate chips (dark as possible (but still affordable) are my supreme preference)
Powerful blender…gotta love the Ninja


Add bananas, ice cubes, peanut butter, vinegar, agave, and 1/2 cup soy milk to the blender jar.

In a small ramekin, add chocolate chips. Microwave on high one minute. Remove and stir forcefully. When mostly melted, add 1/4 cup soy milk and stir strongly. Microwave again on high 30 seconds. Remove and stir until melty and smooth.

Don't omit the chocolate

Add the melted chocolate mixture immediately to the blender jar, lid it up, and blend on high. And keep it blending for a long time. After you check on it, and scrape down the sides, blend again (adding more milk if necessary, but don’t add too much because it is pretty tough-to-impossible to take out once it is too runny!). Blend as long as you can stand it then go 10 seconds more (really), to get that creamy texture.

Poor into a thick-walled chilled glass. Sip (or slurp) delightedly.

My Cold Sweet Moo'd

P.S. I in no way pretend to be your amazing foodie, chef, baker, food photographer that you pin and sample and read and love. It just felt like this chocolately Moo’d was conceived to be shared!

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Snap and Savor: Day 70

The Snap

Sushi. Japanese style and American style, side by side.


The Savor

Seemed like the most fitting way to close this Snap experiment. A taste of where we came from next to that of where we are.

These 70 Snaps have followed us from the last normal days in Japan, exploring, packing up, saying goodbye, savoring our last moments, and then saying hello, visiting, refamiliarizing, adjusting…to here. A day we signed the lease to our next home. A day we continue to accept to the new norms. A day we are grateful to do the normal and routine.

Perhaps after today, these Snaps taper off or even stop abruptly, or perhaps they continue…as a worthy exercise and a reminder to myself to pause, reflect, and truly savor the snapshots in the day that bring joy, sadness, elation, reflection, or even just pause. Snap.

[To see what this 70 days of Snap and Savor is all about, see Day 1.]

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Snap and Savor: Day 69

The Snap

Sandy delight! A little guy and his Papa experiencing the sand.


The Savor

To remember his first footprint in the sand (or diaper-print to be more accurate!). Immediate delight in his bright eyes and gummy grin, and fun for the entire morning.

To realize that this sandy paradise is our new home, and his childhood begins here.

A reminder that a hill of sand can be better than any playground.

[To see what this 70 days of Snap and Savor is all about, see Day 1.]

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Snap and Savor: Day 68

The Snap

A walk with the sky.


The Savor

To remember the cool touch of the summer air that feels like an autumn day. And the deep breaths of salted evening air.

A reminder that the environment can set the stage for meaningful (even when brief!) family moments.

And then, we remember, what a gift it is to walk here, where the artfully crafted sky meets the inviting white sand.

[To see what this 70 days of Snap and Savor is all about, see Day 1.]

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