Time? It flies. Or maybe it just flies when you don't want it to...or maybe the older you get? Beats me. Kids sometimes complain about things taking forever, and maybe that's just because they know how to really be in a moment wholeheartedly. Anyway, my musings about how time flies is coming from a place of I-can't-believe-it-was-over-a-month-ago-that-I-got-to-spend-time-with-this-sweet-family. I first met Tony and Nicole around ten years ago when I spent six weeks living in Israel with my sister Lori. Lori hit it off with Tony and Nicole, and it's been the sort of friendship that even after Lori left Israel in 2009, they still pick up right where they left off when they see one another. It was only natural to look them up and hang out with them as much as possible for the few days we were in Jerusalem.
One evening we met them for dinner at an old train station that's been converted into a delightful little hotspot for families to hang out, complete with restaurants, vendor booths, shops, and a small stage for events. We snapped a few photos outside before we headed inside the station to let the kids play.
Below: The sibling version of hugging at ages six, four, and two. It was a bit more like tackling, but their hearts were in it, and I'd say that's what matters.
Altogether, it was a splendid evening chasing these little munchkins around the train station. I was thrilled to finally meet the famous Daniel. He's been blogging for years now and tales of his shenanigans have provided me with hours of entertainment. I was quite looking forward to meeting him. He gave me a giant hug when we met, and I had a genuine fan girl moment. I briefly felt quite special, but he also showered the rest of our crew with hugs (pictured below making Lori's day with his sweetness). This one does know how to work his crowd.
Daniel happened to be the lucky one getting swing rides from his dad. Lucas and Raia crashed that party post haste, determined to get in on the action.
Fun fact about parenting three kids under six (not that I really know, but I hear and believe because the evidence speaks for itself): Time to yourself is, well, limited at very best. What makes this not just bearable but a good adventure is having someone to ride the roller coaster alongside you, with all the crazy twists and turns life throws your way. Tony and Nicole have been married for twelve years, and it shows in the best kind of way. Pinterest and social media will sell you a crap story about marriage. Don't buy it for a second. Real love isn't some sort of perfect life. Real love is someone who stays on the roller coaster with you when life sends you over a crazy hill that makes you wonder if you're going to make it through the turns you couldn't have seen coming. Tony and Nicole know a lot about riding the roller coaster well. Is that a thing? Because they've totally made it a thing - riding life's roller coaster well. There isn't much about their life that's easy. In the few days I spent with them, I walked away so inspired by how they LIVE. They get up every morning with perseverance and courage to a story that is full of challenges. I know I'm being all dramatic, but thinking about stories makes me think about heroes. What makes people heroic is the way they show up, stay, and don't give up living a life that isn't about them. That's how you live a beautiful story. Tony & Nicole are living a story that is genuinely beautiful, and it's inspiring. Generally though being an inspiring person isn't glamorous in actuality. It is inspiring because it is difficult and it's being done in spite of seemingly insurmountable challenges. This is the kind of courage that matters long term, that still shows up when you zoom out and look back in twenty years.
Who doesn't love a carousel ride?
Love these shots of Raia and Nicole!
Nicole and her family are originally from New York City. Her parents are retired and spend several months each year living in Israel so they can be closer to their grandbabies. The kids adore them, and their presence provides a bit of respite and margin for the kids sometimes battle-wearied parents.
Raia's eyes are my new favorite. Just saying.
The whole gang!
These shots make me smile. They were singing to Daniel, running through a ritual he knew well, and the delight was palpable. Having grandparents like these means you are automatically winning at life.
The kids' evening ended with one of life's greatest luxuries: ICE CREAM.
Heaven comes in a tiny cup. Or so it would seem.
Based on Lucas' expression, Raia should most certainly be worried for the cone in her hands.
Partaking of the sacred cream is a responsibility Lucas obviously takes quite seriously.
Photographing this family reminded me how life can be simultaneously simple and complicated, beautiful and messy, hard and GOOD all at the same time. I left wanting to embrace life as fully as they are. You CAN face heart-boggling challenges and call life good at the same time. It's not one or the other, and they are in the thick of rocking what it means to do a simple/complicated, messy/beautiful, hard and GOOD existence.