happy valentine’s day, indeed

Yesterday, I got an unexpected present. There was a padded envelope in the mailbox with my name on it, and inside, I found this:

WP_000864After Christmas break, Dino had stayed with E., and I am delighted to have him back with me.

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With a sister like this, who needs a date? Thank you, E.

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Happy Christmas

I’m surrounded by lovely people, we had a wonderful dinner, dessert is waiting in the wings, and E. and the dinosaur are both wearing bow ties today. Conclusion? Life is pretty good.

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May your days be merry and bright, wherever you are.

Graduation (no, not mine)

My sister E. graduated with a MSc in Biology last Wednesday. Here she is, receiving her diploma.ImageTwo years ago, when I got my master’s, she had dressed up Dino with a little graduation cap.

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Of course, I had to return the favor.

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I’m not as short as I look here. E. is wearing heels and I, per usual, am not.

E., I hope you know how proud we are of you.

Aquazoo

On Easter Monday (an extra day off here), my mom, E. and I drove to Düsseldorf to the Aquazoo there. It’s not a new museum/aquarium/zoo by any means but it was still great. My sister E. has a masters in biology and will start a PhD program this summer, so she had the knowledge to ignore the signs and teach us all about evolutionary processes. She also dragged me into the room with all the live insects and made me look at them from up close. While I will concede the beauty of certain insect species (anything but spiders and cockroaches, basically), I’m still not a fan of creepy crawlies.

Of course, because we never outgrow our stuffed animals, this also happened.

Just catching a ride with my big brother.

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Playing hide-and-seek.

Excuse the blurriness, please, I think I hadn’t quite gotten over the insect room yet.

gingerbread cookies

A couple months ago, E. and I were at the Dille & Kamille in Leiden and saw these:

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So of course we bought them as an early Christmas present. On Christmas morning, we unwrapped them and exclaimed over how awesome they were, and a couple days later, this happened:

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We used the gingerbread cookie recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery (recipe found here), and although we’d add a little more spice to the mix, personally, it’s a sound recipe. Add some green food coloring and you get some pretty awesome cookies, which may also masquerade as friends for Dino (at least until eaten).

I'm sad to say that happened quickly enough.

DSCN3575I’m sad to say that happened quickly enough.

Berkeley

You all remember I went to Berkeley, right? It was back in 2008 but I still see it as the most defining six months I’ve ever spent anywhere. Without that semester, I never would have realized that I wanted to go into academics and get that PhD and I would never have had the confidence to try. That semester showed me I can keep up with the nerds out there and even hold my own. It showed me I come alive in college libraries in a way I don’t anywhere else and that I needed to find a way to incorporate that in my life.

That semester showed me how to live a life of faith that isn’t poisonous. It showed me how to love God and his people without losing sight of who I am. It showed me the power of ritual and liturgy and tradition and what it can do for people like me that bring a lot of baggage to the pew.

That semester showed me how to be a good roommate without losing sight of my own boundaries. It taught me the power of lived communities as well as its limitations (and how to find a sense of personal space even when living with so many other people). That’s a pretty useful skill right there, for an introvert like me.

I could talk about Berkeley all day, but I won’t, since the purpose of this post was to show you this picture.

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You remember the dinosaur, right? And now you’ve seen my sister. You know we like to dress up Dino for special occasions. Well, my sister obviously thought a visit to Café Strada warranted an outfit, and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks, E. You’re the best.