This girl

My daughter turned 15 this week. On her birthday she posted this picture on her Instagram account.  The first thing that I was struck with was how incredibly adorable she was. I mean stop it, that kid was just perfect. I remember this trip to London. This was the start of our adventure. We were months from leaving Portugal to head to Australia. 

The girl in this picture was so full of life. The joy is just oozing out of her. I will be honest, the teenager that she has become is more reserved. Don’t get me wrong. She still has the best laugh, a quick mind, a fantastic sense of humor and an authentic heart. She is a hard worker and a trustworthy loyal friend. But I see that the world has changed her a bit. 

Lana, dad and I hope that our travels and moves have enriched your life. But looking at this picture I wonder if we also robbed you of some of the simplicity that could have been your life. Rather than growing up with the same set of friends, you have known what it means to walk into a room of strangers and have to forge a path for yourself. You have done it so many times. You are aware that people are looking at you, judging you and you, therefore, you make decisions on how to behave based on how you will be perceived. That is natural and normal. But please remember my darling girl just how incredibly beautiful YOU, the real YOU is. Please remember the joy and exuberance of that you felt in this photograph and live that. Those around you who are worth your time will see the beauty in you and those will be the people worth your laughter, your intelligence, and your joy.

I love you and I always will. 

Relationships

I started a meditation practice last year. It was helpful, but I was not as consistent as I should be with it. I am trying to make it a priority this year. This was the core message I worked on today. This is a tough one for me, but I am trying. 

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One of the most inspiring people on social media is Robin Arzon. I can not remember how I discovered her on Instagram, but the minute I did, I was hooked. Every darn post she shares is inspiring. She is unabashedly fierce, proud and strong.

Last winter she challenged herself (and everyone) to run 3 miles every day for the 31 days of December. I thought it was cool, but I knew I would not be able to fit it into my schedule. This year when she reissued the challenge, I knew that even though the timing was wrong, (I was going to be a solo mom for two of the weeks in December) that I simply had to do it. Rather than deter me from the idea, the madness of the timin drew me further into the challenge. I knew that if I did not sign up that I would miss numerous workouts because of the hectic holiday season and then I would end the year feeling unfit and defeated. I took on the challenge and I’m happy to say that for 28 of the 31 days I found time to run, hop on a Stairmaster or cycle (I doubled the miles those days). 

Some days this meant working out in the evening which I hate doing, but I did it. And then I did it again. And then I did it again. I finished the year feeling better than I would have had I not accepted this challenge. And that my friends, is why I will do it again. 

This is the chart that I posted to keep me honest and on track. 

This New Year

NYC squareSince arriving in the States we I have thought numerous times of posting to kiwigalo, but life always seemed to get in the way of my making time for myself. This endeavor is something I do to chronicle my life and my thoughts. I do it for myself, but also for my children. I know Lana has often come here to scroll through our memories and I believe she has gotten to know me better by reading my words. They are not eloquent, rather they are simple, but they are mine. 

I am not here to make any promises to anyone that I will be posting often. No, I am here to remind myself that my life continues to be an adventure even if I am living back at home. I took the above photo quite randomly after getting myself and Sophia a coffee while in NYC. This image keeps coming to mind. I have no idea what this year holds for me. But oddly, I know that there will be big changes. Sometimes it is rattling in our soul, something only perceived to ourselves that constitutes the greatest change. And I feel it. 

Happy New Year.

The worst hour

I like to tell stories. This story however is one that I did not want to tell. It has been three nights since our incident and each night I lie in bed and the story runs through my memories. It is on a loop. I am hoping by writing it down I can stop this from happening. Hopefully having it recorded elsewhere I can let it go. 

On Sunday the 14th of August my children and I departed from Lisbon. We were up at 6:30am and on the road by 7. My husband had found us a budget carrier, Norwegian Air, to get us home. We saved over 1,000$00 on the three flights, but it meant having to fly through Copenhagen. By the time we arrived at JFK we had been traveling all day. When the pilot came on to tell us that there had been lightening and therefore there was a cue of 15 airplanes ahead of us all waiting for gates I knew we were in for at least an hour wait. A pain to be sure, but my kids know we don’t complain about such inconveniences as it is not worth it. The wait ended up taking 2 hours, but whatever. It’s like getting stuck in traffic. Be grateful you are in traffic, not the cause of it. 

While on the plane I tried a number of times to call my brother who was waiting to pick us up. My phone was not working. When I couldn’t figure out why, I asked the woman in the seat over if she was getting service. She wasn’t either. A pain, but what could we do. Now I know that our service was likely being blocked so that we would not know what was happening at the airport. 

As soon as we got off the plane and around the corner from the gate you could see the backup of people waiting to get down the hall. There was not a line just people crowding the hall all standing still. The moving carpets were stopped, but some people were being cheeky and trying to get ahead of this mob by walking down that narrow path. I tried to call Joe again to apologize, but I could not get through. I figured we had at least a couple hours wait before we even would get to the proper customs line downstairs. 

Evan had just commented on the cue jumpers and that this was not a line. I told him we were fine, we just needed to wait our turn. 

Just about then we heard a loud rumble. A look of confusion must have come over my face. But immediately after, the screaming started. What I can only describe as a wave of people started to turn back at as. Was there a bomb? Gas? Whatever it was, I knew what had happened in Nice, Boston, Sandy Hook, was now happening here. My immediate thought was to get my kids to safety as I feared they would be trampled. Especially Evan. As I turned I fell and when I got up I could only see Sophia. I looked down to make sure Evan was not on the floor. He was gone. No where to be seen. The panic to find him overcame me, but we had to get out of the way. People were still running past and I hoped with all my heart that he was ahead of us. We turned right into a hall. Sophia and I found a corner to hide and huddled. From what people were screaming it seemed that there was a shooter. It was incredible to think that we we might be dead in minutes. My poor baby girl. I stood there fearing for my daughter’s life, for my life and panicked that Evan was dead in that hallway. 

A minute later when it seemed that the madness had passed our hall we came back into he main hall. My greatest fear, that Evan lie there dead on the floor was relieved when we walked back out into the main hall. Thank God. He was not on the floor.  But where was he? Seconds later everyone yelled he was back. We were ushered back down the hall, but this time onto the Air Korea plane that was at that gate. 

Sophia and I walked the plane. Yelling Evan’s name. Hoping desperately that he was on the plane. No sooner did we walk the entire plane did the attendants yell for everyone to get off the plane. Was it a bomb? Was this a horrible plot? We ran off. As we emerged onto the main hall I wanted to turn right to look for Evan. Had he gone back towards our plane? But the belief was that the shooter was down that hall and police would not allow anyone to go that way. Sophia and I followed the crowd, yelling Evan’s name. It was horrible. Just as we rounded the stairs to head down to the customs area a man and his girlfriend said they would go back and look for Evan. They were kind, generous and willing to risk their lives for my boy. I would have too, but I could not leave Sophia or draw her deeper into risk. The security officer would not allow this and had to resort to yelling at the man to stand down and move. 

When we got downstairs there were people outside on the tarmac. Sophia and I walked out there between he luggage trains and asked everyone if they had seen Evan. Nothing. As we looked up there were windows along the building and there were two men sitting against the window with their hands up. Was Evan there? Did he go into that room? Had the shooter grabbed my son? Was he going to make some example of my beautiful boy? All these thoughts raced through my brain. I prayed for him to not be there. I prayed for him to be safe. But it felt wrong to only pray for Evan. I needed to pray for everyone’s safety. But that felt wrong too. I just wanted my boy safe. 

We found an officer. Officer Hernandez. He was amazing. He assured us that Evan was going to be found. I wanted him to add alive. I really just wanted that assurance, but I knew he could not give me that. As we walked back towards the building we came across a brother and sister who were also separated. Johnny was Sophia’s age, but he was a mess. I hugged him, assured him he would find his parents just like my boy would find me. I wanted to mother MY son, but at that moment I had to take care of him. Johnny and his sister went with the officer as Sophia and I went inside. 

At this time I called Stephen. My service was poor so I had to call Diane and tell her to call my husband back. Sophia and I were safe, but Evan was missing. All I can describe was that I was hollow. I was alive. Sophia was alive, but my son was no where to be found. We found another officer inside and asked for assistance. He placed us on the outside of the  customs line and told us to wait there watching anyone who might walk by. A couple of people trickled by, but we kept walking up and down the crowd asking for Evan. Asking people to ask for Evan. 

Then the yells to get down. Sophia and I ran towards each other. We hid behind a wall. A crying Italian girl at my side. Another sister covering her brother’s body. We all huddled together. I held the sister’s hand. And my Sophia told me she loved me. That she loved her father. Her brother. She, like I, thought this must be it. A swat team ran past. They ran just past where we were. One officer was near to us and I thought, we will be safe. We will be safe. 

After that incident we were allowed to go outside. We looked out again on the tarmac, but there was no sign of Evan. As we came back inside it seemed that the word was that there was no shooter. I wanted to believe that, but the panic was still reverberating through us and I did not have my son. 

When the upstairs was given the all clear I was allowed to go look for Evan. We walked up the stairs and my daughter who does not like speaking to strangers did what she had been doing for the past half hour and asked if the couple had seen her brother. They said yes. That he had just walked by with an officer. We turned and ran back downstairs. She saw him first. It was then that she lost it. Tears pouring down her face. We have never been more grateful. 

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Sophia said that in that madness these two officers gave her assurance that her brother would be okay. For that, and their assistance I will be forever grateful. Thank you Officers Hernandez and Rodriguez. 

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After a million hugs I asked Evan what had happened. It seems that Evan had run and run fast. He got himself back to our plane where an airline stewardess cared for him. She had allowed him to send me a message on FB, but I had not even looked on my phone other than to call Stephen, Jose and Diane. He said while they were on the plane a police officer came on board and told everyone to put their hands up. It seems there was a woman who didn’t. My poor baby thought she was going to be shot. 

I thanked the stewardess for her caring for my son. She said he had been very brave. He had. And so had Sophia. 

Upon seeing Ti Zé the tone turned to the positive. I think it is part from my brother where I get my positive attitude from. Our review of the events was that this was the all time worst hour of our lives, but we needed to think of the positive. We hope that since lightening does not strike twice that we will never have to relive any such event again. But I told my kids that if they are ever in any such situation I know, and they know what to do and they can handle themselves. They really were bloody brilliant. Evan was smart, cooperative and brave and Sophia was an incredible advocate for her brother. I need them to walk away taking the good out of this and leaving the horrible behind. But there is one thing I can not let go of. No child, absolutely no child at all should have to endure such horror. We really need to fix this world. 

Although there was no shooter, the panic and the fear was real. I am more than grateful that it was a non-event for the record books. But it has left a horrible scar in our hearts.

Moving on…

When we moved into our current apartment we never felt that we were going to be here for a long time. Heck, we moved to Portugal 5 years ago thinking it was only for a year. Then another year, and so on. When you live like this you never really set up your home. That and a few other reasons are why I never really decorated the place. 

The kids rooms always get set up. They deserve more than anyone to feel at home. But the house itself never seems to get done. One thing I did do was frame and hang some of Evan´s artwork. We have done that in all our homes. Yesterday I took down one of his prints. It is time to pack it up. This has been the hardest thing I have done yet. It just seems wrong to continue to sleep here when his artwork comes down. 

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Peter Pan

I was recently home in the States. My mission was to find us a house. A house that I am to turn into a home. While there I heard the song Lost Boy by Ruth B. It took very little time before I started crying. My first thought was of my daughter. My daughter and her innocence. The innocence of having a home, having friends and the simplicity of childhood. We have been on our own adventure. But this adventure jostled part of my children´s innocence. I know that. They know what it is to say farewell. To painfully miss family and friends. They know what it is to be alone in a room and to have to restart.

Sophia and Evan, I could not be more proud of what you have done and accomplished on this adventure. You are both incredible and that gives me peace knowing that you will be okay. Better than okay, you will AMAZE us in this move. But please know that as you are taking on a new challenge that I carry you in my heart and that I am always asking God to give you strength and to bring you happiness. 

But I hope more than anything that you always will know that wherever dad and I are is your home. We love you.

After a hard day…

After a hard day I went to give one  of my kids a good night kiss and hug. I do not have favorites it´s just my awesome girl is still not home from swim when I crawl into bed. 

Me – Do you know how much I love you?

Him – On a scale of 1-10? 

Me – Yes.

Him – About 52. 

Thanks Mate. You made this frown turn upside down. 

Success!

I cheated, but they loved it! I rarely, if ever cook with a packet. I did last night and Lana gave my Pantry Party a thumbs up. Can I accept that compliment? I cheated, but I will take it nonetheless as compliments in this kitchen are a rarity. 

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Pantry Party

We are moving. Details and the long story to follow, but right now I am all about starting to get this house in order. I have initiated a game. We are calling it a pantry party. Sounds fab, I know! At the top of the week each of my kids will go to the pantry and select two items. I have to create 4 meals during the week that will each include an item they have selected. My kids did ask if they could start with the M&Ms their aunt bought them. Obviously no one read the rules of the game. 

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My daughter of course found the one meat influenced item in the pantry.