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Finn – 23 months – He’s defiant and pushing boundaries and a full-on almost 2 year old.  He’s clearly in need of more friends because I’ve been having to wash the toy trucks that must take baths with him, brush their teeth, and pretend diaper them. Thankfully, the toy trucks don’t actually poop.

Exploring – umm…we went garage and estate sale shopping this weekend? That kind of counts. It was a bad garage sale day with Tropical Depression Patricia (I think it was still a tropical depression when we got it) pouring down on us. And we did some shopping at the Galleria with my mom and sister. So many stores! Its actually overwhelming.

Cooking – Paul makes a delicious chili with venison that he hunted and butchered himself. Its finally chili weather in Texas and it hit the spot : )

Drinking

Watching – Aggie Football break my heart. I feel like at this point in the year, I should start expecting it. But it still hurts.

Reading – Oh gosh. No new novels for me. but Finn loved Eric Carle’s Brown Bear forever. It was one of the very first books he sat still for and he still loves it. I picked up the box set when it was on sale on Zulily a few weeks ago and he’s loved all three. And somehow I don’t get sick of them either!

Residency Update

IMG_43464 years and 9 months left. But who is counting?

Paul has been working in the ER this month and somehow got a ridiculous number of shifts and terribly long hours (somehow they were short-staffed this month). We thought we’d be looking forward to this month, but it didn’t turn out to be so.

As for me, I started working for my dad and part of my job entails managing a feed store about an hour and 45 minutes from here. I only go to the store a couple of days a week and then manage some things from home. Its great that Finn can go to work with me and I can work from home with him, but I’m having a hard time finding the balance of work and making sure I give him time. I think I’ll feel less guilty when I can get him in a mother’s day out program a couple of days a week so that I have dedicated work time, but for now, I struggle with the guilt.

Fortunately, the job allows for some flexibility. When Paul is off on a Monday, I can get some work done on a Sunday and then take some family time with him. Considering residency hours, the odd schedules, and the little time we get together, this flexibility is invaluable.

The main lesson I’ve learned in residency, at least for intern year,  is to take it one month at a time. Just get through the month. One month, I may have no time alone, we may rarely see Paul, but then the next it may be better. Or, it may be bad for two months, but taking it one month at a time helps. We can all hang in for a month.

Paul is working hard. He’s tired. He gets frustrated not having any control of his own schedule. Understandably, it difficult to be unable to plan a day off. His vacation only comes in week long blocks so he can’t make sure he has a Saturday off to throw Finn’s birthday party or go to his cousin’s wedding. I think that has been one of the most difficult things for us to become accustomed to. Certainly, he wasn’t in control in medical school either, but the hours weren’t as bad and it didn’t feel nearly as difficult to take a day off.

Only 4 years and 9 months left. And then we may be able to feel a little in control again. But who’s counting? ME!

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Finn – 23 months – He’s a smart aleck lately! A conversation:

Me: “Finn, can you say forklift?”

Finn: “Yessss”

Me: ………

Me: “Finn, say forklift, please.”

Finn: “truck”

Me: ……..

Evidently, he’s also a liar.

Exploring – We went to a ranch concert near where I manage a store an hour and a half away and the countryside was beautiful! I love the sprawling river oak trees and Texas sunsets.

Cooking –  I’ve made this Corn Salad with Blue Cheese and Avocado a couple of times for guests. Everyone raves about it and its almost embarrassingly easy.

Drinking – Have you tried “Not Your Father’s Root Beer“? It tastes just like regular root beer but its alcoholic!! Its deceptively easy to drink. Careful, you won’t realize you’re drinking alcohol! I suggest a root beer float : )

Watching – I can’t believe I haven’t shared this one…I think I was keeping it as my little secret. But you should definitely be watching “Gran Hotel.” You’ll have to read subtitles but I absolutely guarantee they’ll be worth it. I’m addicted.

Reading – I started reading “The Story of a Soul,” St. Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography. She’s such an inspiring Saint who looked for the way for little souls to serve God. She looked for the smallest things in every day that she could offer to God. She’s also my confirmation Saint so I have a particular love for her.

Camino de Santiago – Day 9

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

Day 9. At this break neck pace, I may finish before Christmas. Maybe. The good news, is today’s post is pretty short.

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We were finally back to 21km days and it was welcome! The more and more we have a settled into our rhythm, the less and less I took pictures and wrote in my journal. The Camino was no longer novelty, but ordinary life. But it was in the ordinary that we found ourselves so tied to our Camino home and family. They packs on our backs were held all we needed and there was a simplicity in our daily routine that I had always craved but never before attained. We wore the same thing every day (cleaned!), ate what we were given, and spoke with those in our path. I still attempt to find this simplicity at home, but its never realistic to have the same level of simplicity in the real world surrounded by Super Targets and Amazon. Maybe I’m just weak or maybe I have unrealistic goals, but somehow small and simple stays out of my reach.

We spent our days singing the same songs to Finn, visiting with some of the same companions and some new, but mostly walking, praying, and being together.

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That is how we spent our walk from Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Finn still got treats every time we stopped. A bag of candy, lots of lollipops, milk, bananas, oranges. The kindness never ceased.

The countryside continued to look and feel more and more like the meseta, Arid and without shade. There were longer stretches of the day without a town to stop and refresh. We took more break on the side of the road under trees. We practiced signing to a nice family with whom we shared shade and who wanted to talk about Finn, but spoke no Spanish or English, so we didn’t have common ground.  And we arrived fairly early in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

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We hadn’t been able to book a room ahead of time, but we quickly found ourselves at a convent with rooms to rent. The nuns had been serving pilgrims for hundreds of years and they were excited to talk and sing to Finn. We checked in, changed and went off to explore the town a bit.

There wasn’t much to see and the main attraction was the church, which we were planning on seeing at mass that evening, so we sat and had beer while Finn chased cats for a long time. We met a group of super fun Italian pilgrims and Finn had a little fan club pretty quickly. : )

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We ate with Father Smith again and then ran off to mass. Legend has it that a pilgrim couple and their son had stopped at an inn in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The innkeeper had a beautiful daughter who had her eye on the pilgrims’ son, but he thwarted her advances. So, she placed a silver goblet in his backpack and reported him for stealing. The innocent boy was caught and condemned to hang. Some accounts state that the parents continued on their way, oblivious to the fate of their son, but when they returned through (ancient pilgrims obviously had to turn around and walk back!), they found him still alive thanks to the intervention of Santo Domingo They rushed off to the sheriff’s house and found the sheriff about to eat dinner. When the sheriff heard the parents’ questions, he replied that their son was no more alive than the chicken he was about to eat for dinner. Whereupon, the fowl stood up on the dish and crowed loudly. The sheriff, not oblivious to the miracle, rushed back to the gallows and cut down the boy who was given a full pardon.

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The church still houses a live chicken in memory of the legend! So we went to mass and to look at the chicken and then headed to bed. It was a small town, but a very sweet one.

Weekend Links

FRIDAYYYY! This weekend should be pretty laid back around here. We’ll be watching the A&M v. Alabama game on Saturday, obviously. #gigem. Then I’ll be attending a fundraiser and concert in the area of our store, so it’ll be a little driving but a lot of fun.

-This pizza looks amazing.

-A $2 photo turns out to be worth $5 million.

These little felt Saint dolls are the cutest! I think I’ll have to get Finn a  St. Finnian of Clonard : )

-I’m giving up on making a headboard. Mostly because I found this beautiful embroidered fabric for curtains, so the room started to feel too full of fabric and I wanted wood or iron. Paul and I are loving this one.

-Speaking of design, these black rooms feel so sleek and moody.

-This DIY Necklace looks easy enough.

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IMG_440210 weeks left this year!?! How did that happen already?

Finn – 23 months – Finn is putting 2 words together at a time, mostly by telling everything “bye.” “Bye Truck.” “Bye Horse.” “Bye Water.” Ev-er-y-thing. Really, his vocabulary is picking up in general, so that’s fun. He’s still pretending he has a microphone, singing, and dancing all the time. Now I just need to teach him to take a bow!

Exploring – Paul was off on Friday so he requested the Rothko Chapel. Its just a quiet place to stare at Rothko art, meditate, etc. Its not my favorite Rothko art, but its neat to have a space dedicated to JUST sitting and staring at Rothko. After, we went to some resale shops and then to West Alabama Ice House to watch the Astros game. Such a cool/chill place to hang out!

Cooking – We used a trial coupon for Hello Fresh and every single meal has been good. I’ve just had to cut the parsley to keep Paul appeased. : )

Drinking – For the Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we made a Mother’s Milk cocktail. It was a little like a White Russian, but with gin. So good!! Again, I highly recommend “Drinking with the Saints!”

Watching – All kinds of stuff. But, I’ll throw you for a loop and give you a “listening” instead. Have you listened to the podcast “Limetown?” Its a fictional investigative report told as though the investigative reporter is researching the story in real time. The basic concept is very good and the story will keep you interested. The only downfall, and I hate to say this one, is just the narrator’s voice. Its a little breathy and can be hard for me to listen to and doesn’t come across quite as realistic as some of the actors. I HATE to critique a person on their voice because I hate the sound of my own voice! But its the only thing keeping me from being just totally into this podcast.

Reading – Oh gosh…work has been crazy and my reading is slacking off. But because I’m driving to and from work, I’ve been listening to audiobooks (and podcasts. See above). “All the Light we Cannot See” is excellent. I’m a sucker for a WWII story and the premise of this one is a little different. Its so intriguing and keeps me well awake on long drives!

Camino de Santiago – Day 8

From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here

After the long day to Logroño, we were not anxious to get moving again and, in truth, it took our bodies a little while to settle in to the rhythm of walking again. We’d planned to grab a coffee as we were walking our of Logroño, but, like I mentioned, the city didn’t really cater to pilgrims since, unlike the smaller villages, it wasn’t dependent on pilgrims for income. Therefore, if felt like it took forever to reach a stop for coffee.

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We ended up walking through a park where we visited a nice Japanese man who was completing his third was just so excited about everything. We were quite a bit shy of his enthusiasm, partially because we still hadn’t found any coffee!! Finally, we went through a nature area and found a cafe. Paul went to get us coffee and Finn found a few ducks to chase around. We visited with a couple of pilgrims from Germany who Finn loved and a nice couple for North Carolina.

This walk into Najera was relatively uneventful. A big hill, beautiful churches, great views but some walking along the road. It was a 29km day, like the one before, but the day when easier. We knew what our bodies could handle and took the time to stretch and break as we needed. Finn started trying to stand up and play in the backpack using the stirrups, but thankfully he couldn’t get out. He found it so fun that we got plenty of walking time out of his new games. We sang and he played with walking sticks until he either dropped them on purpose to make me pick them up a few too many times (there is only so much picking up one can do with a 30+ pound backpack on their back) or hit Paul with it too many times (one of Paul’s least favorite games of the Camino along with “choke daddy with his buff”).

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At some point toward the end of the day, we were so close to Najera and Paul and I were exhausted, just ready to push on and get there. But Finn would have none of it. He wasn’t fussy and wanting to play or angry about being in the backpack as much as he just wanted to be carried by me and no one else. Both of our backpacks were pretty well fitted for their purpose, so switching wasn’t an option. We stopped, took a break, and I cuddled and held Finn. For a moment, I was so frustrated; we were close and I wanted to be there and there was no good shade for a break. But finally, I stopped. I looked around. The view was beautiful and I was sitting in the middle of a Spanish vineyard holding my child and loving on him. How can I complain about that!?

Once he got ready to play we let him run awhile before trying to get him to walk with us (unsuccessfully….toddlers don’t walk with a purpose). He was still wanting to be carried so I tried using our blanket to tie him on my backpack and use home as a sling to sit on my hip. Again, that wasn’t so successful. We just couldn’t get the blanket tight enough for me to feel comfortable. So we played some more and then FINALLY got him into the backpack. The protesting lasted less than 2 minutes and then we went on to Najera anxiously.

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Najara wan’t too beautiful from the outskirts, to say the least, and I was worried that none of it would be pretty. But eventually we walked over the river bridge over the river and into the old city. We went straight to our albergue and settled into a private room…WITH A WASHER/DRYER!! Our clothes hadn’t had a really wasn’t in a long time and we were thrilled…right after the other people using it gave us a turn. : / We finally got our clothes washed right before we went to bed later, but we were getting worried!

There was plenty to see in Najera. We went to Santa Maria de la Real which was built into a cave the legend is that Don Garcia followed a falcon into a cave where he found a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and built a church around it. Finn ran and played in the cloisters and played hide and seek with Paul. The cloisters had been ruined over time, but the church was still beautiful. After, we went to the cafes by the river to have a drink while we visited Finn’s South Korean fan club, including “Cat” and Jasmine and Marcus from the West Coast. After, we went on the the grocery store to pick up jamon flavored potato chips to give the local flavors a try. Here’s a tip….don’t get them.

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We also stopped by to see the cloistered Sisters of St. Claire. Their church was beautiful and we got there in time to see them behind the glass of their special chapel. They waved at Finn and he waved back. Seriously, in one day, he visited cloistered nuns, played hide and seek in a cloister, and cuddled in a vineyard. I think it was a pretty epic day.

As we looked for food for dinner, we ran into Fr. Smith and the three of us split up to find a good pilgrim menu somewhere. There was really only one place open and unfortunately they wouldn’t serve us outside. The restaurant was super tiny and narrow meaning Finn was going to have to stay seated with us. Fat chance. In fact, at some point he got mad, threw a spoon which broke a plate, and I about died of embarrassment. Paul and I took turns sitting with him in time out and when that was over, trying to give him lots of breaks. Our sweet new friends from North Carolina took him outside for a little while to give us a break. Again, pilgrims are awesome. There were so many people helping take care of Finn!! It was a whole experience of raising a child with the help of a village and I loved it.

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As dinner ended, we changed diapers and hustled to mass, which was lovely. At the end, the pilgrims were invited to the front to ring a small bell three times. Apparently, pilgrims for hundreds of years have been ringing the bell as they come through. In these small moments, I felt so small. Just a little part of the long tradition of pilgrims marching through Spain to Santiago for any number of reasons. My steps were no where near the first along the trail and they wouldn’t be the last. This was the trail of saints, prisoners paying their debt, and of multitudes of ordinary people. I don’t know where my own steps belonged, but they seemed to belong in a larger historical puzzle, like I was meant to walk this path right at this time and with every step forward, every pilgrim met, and every prayer offered, I was fulfilling a duty.