There are moments during which, upon seeing/reading/hearing, something I am forever changed. I do not mean to imply that the change is instantaneous; Rather, this kind of change is slow but powerful having resulted from being placed squarely out of my comfort zone. This Saturday was one such a time where, for two hours, I saw concrete evidence of how alive, creative, and rebellious Philadelphia was.
Evan and I joined a Street Art tour of the Spring Arts/Eraserhood neighborhood of Philadelphia with the curator of the Streets Dept. blog. The focus of the tour was on murals, graffiti, tags, and wickeds. And while I knew that Philadelphia proudly boasts more murals than any other city in the United States, I had no real understanding how much other art graced this city’s at-times-gritty streets.
Evan took these pictures while I captured these and so many more with my eyes trying to understand and process all the messages.
This isn’t an old picture — this is now, today, in a neighborhood mere blocks from ours. Many people see grit, grime, abandonment but some see a blank canvas, an opportunity for change and rebirth.
These two — discussing their next adventure together. These times of peace and quiet can at times (especially now) seem untenable but when they suddenly appear out of nowhere like a rainbow after a rainstorm, they’re so beautiful.
As the year is coming to a close, I can honestly say that 2016 has been eventful; we’ve moved, I’ve changed jobs, we’ve overcome a children’s surgery, and generally tried to keep afloat. There’s nothing our little family needs more than R&R.
A house is just a structure. A home is that structure filled with people, with aromas of home-cooked food, and for me, with flowers. This move hasn’t been easy but we’re finally done. Not unpacked, but moved out and surrounded by endless boxes. Unpacking can, for me, be daunting and thankless especially when spring is on our doorstep and there is so much else one could do with their weekend. And so in an effort to make our house a home and cheer up a dreary task, I picked out a fresh arrangement at a local florist. The beautiful blooms instantly made the day so much brighter.
I had every intention of baking these cookies but ran out of cocoa powder. I didn’t miss a beat and instead made a beautiful sockerkaka med applen (Swedish apple cake). There are few things that are so aromatic as apples baking and vanilla-laced cake.
Last, but not least, the girls enjoyed the day with their Baba and Deda as we worked to pack, unpack, and generally finish our move. On the occasion of their births, they each got little personalized backpacks and I can’t believe they are both finally big enough to use them.
A meaty topic for a Friday post, especially if you were expecting to see a weekly moment. We are continuing our adjustment to having two kids, to being in Philadelphia, and to being parents of a pre-schooler. Believe it or not, daily snack selection can be daunting! All lighthearted comments aside, I am looking back, feeling the need to introspect, and finding that life isn’t harder than I thought it would be, but harder in ways I didn’t expect.
Expectations are tricky, you see. If you set no expectations, you are bound to not be disappointed. Disappointment, though, like failure, is a part of life. It is good to feel disappointment because that means you reached high, took a leap of faith, or gave someone the benefit of the doubt. Someone I have a great amount of respect for recently said that “… the expectation placed on you changes the expectations you place on yourself …” It seems so commonsensical, but when you really think about what that means, it becomes obvious that this is an incredibly important concept.
I have always placed high expectations on myself and there have been times I have disappointed myself or those around me, but more often than not, I have achieved what I expected to. Expectations have been placed on me from an early age, and I suppose because of that I have learned to place expectations on myself. Extending this to the now—and whether or not we want to—we parent based on what we know. I have noticed that I have started to place expectations on the girls.
Given their ages, these expectations are not anything out of the ordinary. I expect them to behave with respect toward those around them, to ask for permission for certain things, to clean up after themselves in the evening, and to be mindful of the world around them. Perhaps the biggest expectation I have placed on Sophia (Eliza is too young for this) is for her to “buy into” our decisions. I don’t necessarily mean financial “buy-in”, though eventually, that too will be expected. Sophia is fully aware that there are expectations placed on her and I can see now how she is slowly but surely placing higher expectations on herself. More importantly, in placing expectations on herself, Sophia is gaining courage and learning that she can reach higher, expect more of herself.
… and now for some moments…
Disclaimer: One of those pastries belongs to the photographer 😉
This space has been decidedly sparse this past week because we went on a beach getaway with my family. As they say, the early bird gets the worm and this year, my parents got the worm by inviting all of us on vacation. Better still, my sister and I chose the destination, the date, and all else. Baba and Deda babysat, my sister and I caught up on … on everything and the kids did what kids do best—played and bonded. There was also, plenty of peace, quiet, and relaxation for Evan and me.
It just so happened that our vacation marked a few firsts; Sophia’s first voluntary and mostly enthusiastic venture into the ocean, her first time actually swimming (ice cream scoops) in the pool, first time having sushi (raw fish and all), and Eliza’s first birthday.
We chose Fort Lauderdale, Florida as our destination because we wanted to vacation early in the summer, enjoy a warm, azure ocean, and see palm trees without leaving the country. We could have, and did indeed consider the gulf (of Mexico) with Destin being a particular favorite but did not want to drive three hours after a three hour flight with young kids. In any event, after settling on Fort Lauderdale, we rented a spacious house with a pool on the beach.
The house worked out extremely well and we enjoyed lazy morning swims in the sea, afternoon pool time, and leisurely evening dinners followed by even more leisurely post-child-bedtime relaxation. Evan and I accepted my parents’ and sister’s offers for help with the girls and had plenty of time to enjoy the sea together, relax and unwind.
I have amazing memories of vacationing with my parents and grandparents as a young girl and would like to create the opportunity for my children to form similar bonds and memories. I want them to cherish spending time with family and to know that, while you don’t choose your family, you do choose to make time to be with them.
Last Thursday, I visited a preschool for Sophia in the neighboring Society Hill. Admittedly, I was hesitant to commit to the visit as it required me to take time off from work and also because I don’t like change. I am not sure if I am ready for her to go to school. Nevertheless, as I started walking away from my car and toward the pretty little street on which this preschool was situated, I saw old houses, cobblestones and historical markers all around me documenting people, places and events in centuries past. I took my time reading the signs because for as long as I have lived in Philadelphia, and as much as I walked these very streets, there is something new to discover. Always.
One day, my kids will be sitting in a classroom in school looking at a history book and reading about Betsy Ross or Benjamin Franklin. Instead of reading and picturing their life, it is my sincere wish that they will know what it feels like to stand on a sunny day in front of the building where our nation’s declaration of independence was signed. That they know where, unbeknownst to the throngs of tourists, early in the spring there are beautiful blooms on the oldest continually residential street in America. They will understand diversity and a fast pace of life. They will appreciate what it feels like to walk to a farmer’s market on a Sunday morning, to wander surrounding neighborhoods learning the secrets each one holds.
As we embark on the next chapter of our lives, searching for a new permanent place to live, I cannot stop but reflect on the following. I am who I am, we live how we live, for better or for worse. I hold no illusions that my life and the choices we make are better than that of most other people.