Saturday, September 21, 2013

Memory Lane- Paris

I have spent a lot of time walking down memory lane this week. Kate's second birthday spurred this walk. 

My life has been full of forks in the road. Sometimes in the early hours of the morning, before anyone else in my family is awake and the vibrant day begins, I play with these forks. This mornings thought- what if I hadn't gone to Paris at that moment? (2006) What if I hadn't gone to visit Versailles that day in April, then found the nearest LDS church and watched that ONE talk in conference where Elder Scott looked through the itty bitty TV monitor, pointed right at me and said "YOU will never regret the decision to serve a mission, but you might regret the decision not to." What if that choice had never been made that day in my heart? So much about me would be different. I would be so different without those experiences I had those short but full four months in Paris and the 15 months in Tahiti. Then I think about all the other choices that I was so unsure about. It took me almost my whole college career to figure out a major. And in the end I chose European Studies because the education I received from the mind of Professor Daryl Lee was so amazing I was hoping that would continue in the major. It did. It was the perfect major for me. But I wonder now- what am I doing with it? I just had to fill out that blasted Alumni survey where I recognize the cost of the choice to become a mother. My heart aches for school. Zach thinks I'm crazy ;) I really enjoy *now* the lifestyle of a stay at home mom. Upon meeting Kate that decision to stay home with her was as solid as stone on a mountain, but I sure miss living some of the more daring of those forks in the road. The memories are so sweet. Okay some were pretty salty but even chocolate chip cookies need salt in them. 

One particular memory that had me smiling this morning was the first day I arrived in Paris. I remember driving from the airport in a cab to an Etap hotel on the outskirts of Paris. It was early in the morning, as we had flown all night. I can't remember where the Etap was or actually if it really was an Etap. I remember thinking how gray everything looked but how electric the air was with my excitement to be there. I couldn't believe how I'd gotten there and had complete and full hope for a new life there. I needed a rebirth at that point. I remember walking into the foyer of the hotel and seeing the other students- all looked as worn out and completely excited and full of hope as I did. Professor Lee welcomed us, told us NOT to sleep for the whole next day so we could get on the right time zone. I remember the foyer smelled like warm bread and coffee. He gave us the addresses of our new homes and explained what an arrondissement was, the difference between the metro and the trains that took people further to the suburbs, and where school would be held. We were off. Valerie Wilde and I heaved and hauled our luggage to another cab and the adventure really began. Knowledge from our semester of french dropped to zero as we climbed into the cab and tried to explain to an African man where to go. We handed him a paper and sat back thinking we were probably going in the right direction. He dropped us off at a very random metro the middle of honking traffic...on the wrong side of Paris. We paid him and heaved and hauled down a million stairs into my very first experience with a Subway/Metro station. Valerie- I laugh so hard now thinking of the amazing preparation this particular experience was with motherhood. Too much to carry, the destination seeming impossible lengths away, really hungry and tired, but somehow still so happy. SO we did miraculously learn the metro that day and made it very late to our new home. A beautiful white townhouse- if I could describe it that way- not far from the Seine on the southwest side of Paris. I was trying to think what to make for dinner last night and our host mother's ham and cheese pastry crossed my mind. That was my favorite meal of hers. It was very simple. A large pie pastry with Emmenthal cheese and french ham- worlds tastier than our plastic nasty grocery store ham- melted to perfection. Then she would cut it up with scissors and serve it to us with a salad, and kiwi or small yogurt for dessert. My bedroom had a desk that took up half the room and a bed that took up the other half. It was perfect. The comforter was bright pink. The wall paper had red designs of peasants harvesting. I think the carpet was dark blue. I slept right by a window that could open up to the street and the heater was right under the window. I prayed every night it wouldn't set my bed on fire. Valerie and I secretly stored cheese and tomatoes on our windowsills where it was plenty cold enough to be a refrigerator. We would be starving some nights, even after our dinner! American meal portions are heftier than French ones. We would sneak baguettes in our backpacks to my large desk and eat sandwiches mostly of camembert and tomatoes. One terrifying time our host mom- who had forbidden food upstairs- opened the door without knocking and caught one of our late night secret dinners. That was terrifying. I'm positive Valerie and I miss that house with the same fondness. But we do NOT miss the fields of dog poo canvasing the roads to our metro stop from their house. Seriously- ewww. 

I miss sitting on the bridges over looking the Seine. Any one of them would do for me this morning. I spent the most time sitting on the one by school and the Pompidou Centre. The breeze that flows over the bridge washes away past mistakes, unnecessary brain clutter, bad memories, and more than once my desire to ever leave Paris. That was zen for me. 

However- even when you find somewhere you love so deeply, there is a time to leave it. My heart knew when it was time. (My expiring travel visa helped...) So home I came and life rolled forward through to the next fork. Tahiti. Tahiti is a story for another morning. I'm sure anyone reading this can see why I called this blog the Sentimentalist. I've inherited it from my paternal Grandmother. I see it now, finally living by her and Grandpa in Atlanta, that this was a genetic trait passed on. Not just the ability to remember- but that I remember the feelings of where and when with more detail than the actual events. She has a house full of memories of those she loved and their possessions. My sentimentality never leaves me. It subconsciously seeps into my dreams so that when I wake up, I remember things otherwise lost to everyday stresses and life. 

My real question for the future is a little more un-nerving than a fork in the road. I think I might need forks in the road more frequently than the average joe. I'm quite worried in faithless moments looking at my married-and-stay-at-home-track record that the rest of life is one straight path forward. Life seems more settled with Zach graduated and another baby on the way. When you are not alone anymore, roots grow faster in places you land. They need to. Our Georgia roots are taking hold and though I know in my mind that the steadiness provided by those growing roots is welcomed to a happy and healthy family, I must remind my heart that somewhere, hidden in God's mind, adventures lie ahead. He knows my heart aching for the next fork that will lead to a deeper, bigger me. And now that Zach and Kate (and baby boy en route) are a part of my heart, the adventures won't be right without them. So what on earth could they be? This next baby is my hunch. Adventures within the home are harder for me to wrap my mind around than the kind of adventure where you travel somewhere to see something new. They take a lot more reflection to learn from than seeing somewhere foreign and letting it become part of you. Adventures within the home look a whole lot like normal life. I guess that is my trick too--finding the magic in my home. And showing it to Kate. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Motherhood- hardest career there is, right? But man, kids. They change your heart. A whole heck of a lot of challenges come with motherhood, as with any worthwhile pursuit in life. You get to see all your weaknesses magnified and many of your selfish desires laid on the altar if you want to be a great mom. And yet- this is the happiest I've ever been. All that I gave up- and I'd do it all again. Well- I will do it again someday God-willing. Ha. 

With all the narsty stuff happening in the world, I'm just feeling a little sentimental about my kiddo, who is my hope. Can't do much about Boston from here, can't give back the lives that have been lost. But I can look at my personal American dream- my little family. My daughter who represents the innocence and purity I know is still beating in hearts around the world, even when times are hard. My sister in law Rachel wrote a gorgeous song for her 2 year old daughter Claire, and in it sings of how she leans on her to be the change the world needs. I feel that bigtime. I feel strongly my biggest contribution to this society will be my daughter. 

She is brave, strong, compassionate, and determined. She will be a light in the darkness, leading others to the one man who understands how to heal it all. 

All the opportunities I've let walk away for the honor of being Kate's mother are simply dry leaves and faded blossoms blowing away in the wind that changes the seasons of my life. Being her mother is a season I want to cherish. I have grown into this role and though at first I was terrified it would never feel natural, now it is me. It's got Nikki written all over it. I'm just my own kind of mother. And I can trust God to send me kids that need me as their mom. And hopefully I can give them belief and honesty and bravery and love to protect them in this ever-darkening world. Seeing what I've seen, I don't know how I couldn't join the army of mothers trying to protect what is most dear to the world. And so Kate- I am devoted to you. 

My part matters. Our part matters because we matter. Our daily contributions of nurturing teaching and caring for others may seem mundane, diminished, difficult, and demeaning at times, yet as we remember that first line in the YW theme- we are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, it will make all the difference in our relationships and our responses.
- Elaine S. Dalton


You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
-Anne Campbell

Monday, January 7, 2013

change of plans for the Zirkles

This will be short as my time before the peanut wakes up is soon to end! A quick update on our family, since Nikki STINKS at Christmas cards.

Since my last post, our compass is leading us a new direction. We are now moving to Atlanta, GA. Zach will still be working for Industry Pro, his father's investment banking firm, but we will be joining a gaggle of Wilkin relatives in what rumor has it to be an amazing city. Kate is excited for the world's largest aquarium. I am excited for a new adventure and being at least within road trip distance to a beach! Zach is excited for a new career. All these new changes fall happily during the timely arrival of 2013.

A few months ago I was quite sentimental about leaving our Provo nest- but then dreams of a bigger apartment...liberty to redecorate...a pool...dare I say even a washer and dryer in unit???...helped the prospect sound more appealing. I'm of course blocking out the things that would bring them back. Leaving people you love is not fun! So we will procrastinate thinking about that until about the end of June.
*Side note here- anyone looking for a gorgeous, remodeled, optionally fully furnished two bedroom 5 minutes from BYU Campus beginning July 1...let me know. I know a great place!!

Updates then on the clan.
Zach- believes he is shrinking. His broken thumb from flag football season is still gimp. He hasn't been able to lift for months and what with his hippie vegan wife feeding him a bunch of rabbit food- he feels a tad small. He is not. He is still large in stature. He is also a smarty pants. He's quite close to his high academic goals despite the distraction and trickery of his wife and daughter, who so adore him that they had a very hard time letting him study or go to class. His iron will and discipline prevailed 99% of the time. The new challenge? Learning the ropes of a completely new job. He quit his job as a Spanish training coordinator at the MTC right before Christmas to strengthen an internship program between BYU and Industry Pro. Will he survive our sneaking in to show off Kate's favorite trick of tickling his toes? Boring but my guess is yes. Yes he will.

Moi- Since I need to find a way to promote Zach doing homework and working, I've decided to give myself a class on nutrition and also read like crazy. Anyone have book recommendations? In my spare time I do a little puttering with my friends marketing business- she lets me doodle and get paid! Go Sarah Perkins. Her stuff is amazing-!/sarahperkinsphoto?fref=ts. Nu Skin lets me keep my foot in the door too, I sure love them. And the MTC still hasn't been able to completely rid themselves of my Tahitian teacher status. I teach retirees the craziest polynesian language so they can go serve missions in the Garden of Eden. aka Tahiti. Yes it really looks like that.

Other than that? I am very happy to also be a maman and love seeing Kate grow. I'm having fun experimenting with what my brother calls "hippie" food. My highlights of 2013? All the weddings and trips! Trip to the Bahamas for the Lobos wedding, beautiful Utah wedding for my mother in law Elisabeth and her hubby Brian, trips to South Carolina and Colorado. Last but not least getting to have a sister in Provo again has been a huge highlight. Dani(aka Ally) is a freshmen at BYU and we try to bug her weekly.

Kate- She could have her own blog honestly. She learned to walk about 6 months ago and is now running around- all the time. There is rarely a walking speed. Every destination requires a jog at the least. She sports an impressive mouth full of teeth that were paid for dearly by sleepless nights and a lot of biting my shoulder. She is in love with a bunny Zach's mom gave her and carries it everywhere. She just learned to say "Bunny" this week. Before that it was named "uh-oh." Despite her growing vocabulary, "NO NO NO NO!" is still her favorite phrase, finger wag  and smolder included. She is hilarious and loves to tease her father at any opportunity. Mostly she tickles him or wacks him on the leg and runs away. She can do the touchdown sign and claps- which comes in handy every once in a great while for her favorite team, the BYU Cougars. *zing* Her favorite movie is Tangled (where she learned said smolder.) She can make quite a few animal noises. G'pa Wilkin recently taught her the snake one over christmas. How endearing to hear my 15 month old hissing in Parceltongue. Even more endearing than little Potter is that she folds her arms to pray! Melts my heart! And we painted her little toes bright pink this morning- her first pedi.

That is all for now. Maybe deep thoughts next time? Happy New Year!