Saturday, February 2, 2013

Making Friends

School ends at 2:00 p.m. here and we walk home to eat lunch. After homework and a job or two, the kids and I like to wander around Dos Hermanas, usually in search of a different park or a sweet of some kind. We've found that making friends with little kids in Spain is pretty easy, as long as we keep our voices down when we're speaking English to each other. When I engage the kids in Spanish conversations, the other kids tend to move in to find out about these fair-skinned kids of ours.

This week we discovered a new park near our apartment. We've seen it from afar on our way to and from school, but had never taken the time to cross the busy street to peer into the vast pathways. Soccer ball in hand, the boys ran straight for the grassy area and soon found themselves engaged in a sweaty match up under the olive trees with another boy. Louise met a six-year-old friend, orange kitten in hand, who wanted to play restaurant with her. Soon they were offering salad, or weeds, to nearly everyone in the park. It was 7:15 p.m. when we left to walk home, nearly dark.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Soccer Street

I'm working on another blog that will be published on Wordpress and am saving most of the pictures we've taken for that blog.  In the meantime, I know there are a few of you back state side that are curious about what we are doing here. 

We live in an apartment on the 1st floor, really the 2nd, and even have an interior patio to play on in addition to the four bedrooms, kitchen, 2 bathrooms and living room.  If you add the long hall way, the kids have plenty of space to play... indoors.  We're used to having a large yard and a huge park 1/2 block away from our house and all the time in the world to be outdoors.  While the kids are adapting quite well to the new living arrangement, I feel like they are missing a dedicated green space close by.  There are several kiddie parks within a block or two, but the patches of grass are miniscule.  Barely large enough for a dog to take a break.  If we wanted to walk for ten minutes, there are several parks to choose from, but sometimes, you just gotta play.

We have adopted a nearby street, just a couple store fronts down the block from our piso, and now call it "soccer street."  It is a dead end street with a staircase up to our street Avenida de Andalucia at one end, and a not-very-busy street connecting on the other end.  On one side is a concrete walled church with high windows with bars on them and the other has cute little connected casas, again with windows covered with bars.  The bars are for security, we think, when everyone has their windows wide open in the oppressive hot summer heat.  The convenient part of the bars everywhere is the fact that it makes for a perfect soccer kicking zone.  Que patean la pelota! Bring on the kicks!  With their new red soccer ball sporting the Spanish flag, we've got some major jugadores.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Go and Explore

My mom found this somewhere and just sent it to me. 
Looks like something I might even draw.  I love it. 
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Moved in

We arrived at our new home last Thursday afternoon after our friends Lola and Antonio picked us up in Sevilla.  They had to bring two cars to accomodate our luggage and the five of us.  In Spain it appears that SUVs and Minivans are most definitely NOT the norm. 
While the trip went quite smoothly, the boys were more interested in watching movies on the plane and playing with their new electronics, so they didn't get much sleeping done.  By the time we reached our apartment, all three kids were fast asleep in the back of the car.  Inside the apartment, all they could do was take off their shoes, grab a quick snack from their backpacks and plop into bed.  We didn't even worry about pajammas. 
While they slept, I went to the grocery store called Dia across the street and stocked up on a few things, knowing that the kids would be ravenous when they awoke.  Ron made beds and settled bags while I shopped.  Toast with salami and cheese with clementines was our meal prior to our three hour nap.  We woke up while the kids slumbered, settled in a bit more, checked emails, ate some more, then settled back in for the night.  At 2:00 a.m. the boys awoke, ready for the day and a meal.  With our limited groceries, I was able to whip up scrambled eggs and toast, yogurt and fruit.  Did you know they don't refrigerate eggs in Spain, and in many countries around the world?
Louise kept on sleeping until 4:00 a.m. when she woke to go to the bathroom and eat yogurt, then kept sleeping until she had been asleep for 20 hours.  I joined Ron back in bed until the morning and when we awoke, the boys were still reading and playing games.... eight hours later.  Jet lag does funny things to a body, especially these little ones' bodies. 
I took this photo today of everyone out on the balconies of our apartment.  From the photo on the previous post, you can see the place.  The window with Gus and Louise is one of the bedrooms.  Five of the windows belong to us.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Home away from Home

Our friends in Dos Hermanas, Spain have helped us find a new home for our stay.  In Spain, most homes in cities or towns are in buildings that are connected to one another, not free-standing houses as we know in the U.S.  In Spanish they are called un piso, or a floor.  Here's our piso, we think above the Dinamika Center  Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and a kitchen.  What more could we need?  (Though it appears with this image to be on the corner, it is mid-block and not warped like this screen shot.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Countdown is On

The other day I went to wake this reluctant morning girl up and she asked about how many days of school we have left.  "Five until Christmas break, and five after break 'til we leave." 

Hurriedly she sat up, smiled, and said, "Fun!"

You see, we're on our way to Spain.  We're heading out in January for a five-month family adventure that I've dreamed about since we first got married.  Having spent two years living over seas in my younger days, I have an amazing desire to share this experience with my family.  We had talked about the hows, the whys, the details and logistics and figured it would happen some day.  Early last spring we decided that given the ages of our kids, the time was right.  Now.  We're headed on our family sabbatical to Dos Hermanas, a medium-sized town near Seville in southwest Spain.

I'm going to start a separate blog to document the trip and also share a few more details here before we depart.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Feeling Christmas

Christmas has arrived to our house this year in a simple, restrained kind of way.  Instead of hauling up all the boxes of decorations from the basement, we have only decorated a few, high impact areas.  Our normal ceiling-height tree became a five-footer.  While I love the usual decorations, I'm finding the simplicity quite nice.
The piano becomes our mantle, as we have no fireplace.  Every year Gus asks, "But how does Santa get into our house?"  Hmmm... the door?  The back door?  Molly the dog lets him in?  As a result, our next house WILL have a chimney. 
The pots this year are a hodge podge of purchased and found, clipped from the yard and imported from up north.  I was going for Scandinavian modern... a bit of Ikea in the candle holder and more sparse than usual.

We inherited six bags of almond bark from a friend who was moving.  Six bags?  Tough to use it all up.  Pretzel decoration with friends for afternoon group fun became presents for school friends.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trick or Treat

And for the year 2012, we have a Washburn Hockey player (with monster pjs beneath for warmth), a Nordic Viking and a Mermaid, with glittery fake lashes and a lot of eye makeup.  Oh the fun!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happiness Project: Reading over lunch

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm well into the book The Happiness Project. 

I'm learning that I am quite similar to the author and find many of her comments sound like something I would say.  She mused in the chapter I read while eating my lunch today titled "Be Serious about Play" that when she was eleven, she would sit on the floor in her room, poring over magazines with her scissors and glue stick, cutting, clipping, copying inspiring tidbits and colating them all together in her little Blank Books.  I look back at my piles of these same kinds of books, giggling at the things I too, cut out and pasted diligently on the pages.  Super models, flowers, fortune cookie fortunes, recipes (what 11 year old cuts out recipes?), craft ideas, sketches for future logos, poems about journeys, the Eiffel tower and red headed children. 

The author then questions, why isn't she still doing these same activities for fun, as she once did?  She writes, "Too often, I'd give up fun in order to work.  I often felt so over whelmed by tasks that I'd think, "The most fun would be to cross some items off my to-do list,  I'd feel so much better if I could get something accomplished."" 

This is my daily struggle, now that I'm not working.  While the kids are at school and my husband is at work, my to-do list is pages-long and full of tasks to do to get our house ready, to prepare for the upcoming trip, to get caught up on all the tasks I've put off while I've been working.  Amidst this time, I love being able to check things off, to feel like I'm accomplishing things, but when do I start to find time for the Blank Books of my life now?

And you?  What are you doing for fun?  I'm going to go play outside with my kids on this lovely fall day.  And count this as day two blogging again.  I've missed being here.  Glad to be back.

p.s.  And my lunch? It is ratatouille I made recently for a dinner party.  I'm the only one in the house that likes all the deep, velvety flavors melting together, so I get all the leftovers.  Eating this alone reminds me of the semester I spent in Paris on a budget.  I would buy a can of ratatouille and a can of kidney beans, mix them together and serve on top of white rice.  Cheap, filling and yummy for a college kid on a budget in a city full of fancy delights.  I saved my money for desserts.  Always dessert.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A little trip

This little family of ours is about to embark upon a big journey.  The journey began this weekend as we made the cross country trek from Minneapolis to Chicago to take care of a few details before we depart. 

Within the coming weeks and months you'll begin to learn more as the details unfold of our adventure on the horizon.  Will you follow along with us?

In the meantime, I'm reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for my book club.  The theme is so timely, given the place we are in our lives here.  The book brings up a lot of interesting points about living a purposefully happy lives, not taking happiness for granted, and ensuring that we are doing the most we can to make every day a happy, adventure and song filled day for ourselves, our families and the world around us.  Have you read it?

Friday, June 8, 2012

All done with school

We have the cousins over for a sleepover tonight and the night is beautiful! Sprinkler in the yard, dinner on the grass and ice cream from the ice cream man. Summer, here we come!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy 7th Birthday, Mr. Gus

Mr. Gus turned seven last week, the day after Louise turned five.  With Mother's Day and their two birthdays, our lives are filled with lots of celebration and hugs all around.
Gus is finishing up first grade and is loving all that comes with getting older: growing out his hair, getting a real bike that fits him, more freedom to ride his bike around the block, more chores around the house.  He's extremely helpful, when he's in the mood, loves to listen to music on the Gus playlist on the IPod and sing really loud, has fun digging worms and bugs in the garden when he's not running the weed whipper, and thinks that string cheese is the perfect snack food.  He's cuddly and affectionate, gets along with his brother and sister (most of the time) and enjoys being in charge of our dog. 

We love you, G!  Happy Birthday.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Birthday Girl Louise

Today my baby turns five. How is this possible? Wasn't it just last week that I packed my bag to take to the hospital?

Today Louise and I got to go out for a lunch date. She had already eaten at school by the time I was done teaching, so she was more than happy to order chocolate ice cream at Wise Acre Eatery while I lunched on a lovely salad with a poached egg on top.

We sat outside and enjoyed the sunny--and breezy day while she wrapped up in her nap blanket from school to keep warm.

Happy fifth birthday to my red-headed soon-to-be kindergartener who loves to sing, dance, color, dig for worms, eat fruit all day long and play preschool with her dolls and animals. I love you Weez!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dancing in the puddles

Maybe now that the iPhone makes it easy, I can start posting more often. This afternoon we donned our rain gear and headed out into the puddle land near our house. The kids wondered why they don't make rain gear for dogs.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rolling fun

An unexpected sunny day amidst a series of rainy ones. Let them roll!