Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Settling in, and getting out

We've been in Spain for 9 weeks now, and we're actually much more settled than I thought we might be at this point.

We love our piso. It's in a great location. The kids are adjusting better than we'd hoped for. We can get around town with no trouble. We have a church home.

Vida es buena. 

So now it's time to see some more of Europe!
In researching where we'd like to go during spring break (Semana Santa, or holy week, which is the last week in March), we realized that all that talk of taking trains hither and yon through Europe is not exactly what we thought it would be.
Train travel is way more expensive than we'd expected!

So I am disappointed delighted to tell you that the most economical way to get the most out of our vacation time is to go on a cruise.

Yes, again.
I know, I know.
We are living large, no?

You see, we are not world travelers. We're not the kind of people who would be home in the States and plan a vacation to Europe. I despise long flights and jet lag.
So now is our time. And I mean right now, because once Josh begins his formal class in the fall, his schedule will be much more rigid. 

So, in a week and a half, we'll be driving to Barcelona (a little under 6 hours from here) and embarking on our ship. We're taking a Spanish cruise line, because, well, we need to practice our Spanish.
From what I've read, we can expect to be the only or almost-only English speaking people onboard.
No worries. We're used to being the odd ones.

Our ports include Rome, Pisa/Florence, Genoa, and Nice. (The actual ports are sometimes fairly far from those cities, but those are the touring areas associated with the ports.)

So now my job is to research what to see and how to see it at all of our stops. It's a rough job, but someone's got to do it. ;)

What else?

-- We met with Alex's teachers over a week ago. They were...severe stern serious. I don't know if it's a cultural thing, maybe parent/teacher meetings here are just more focused on problem areas, but there was none of that "sandwich style" feedback.
You know, sticking the bad in between a couple slices of good.

Who needs the bread, anyway? ;)

So we've been spending more time with Alex in the evenings working on reading in Spanish, and continuing to help her catch up to her peers in multiplication facts.
Just in the past week I've noticed a lot of progress with her reading, which is encouraging. And she enjoys doing it with us, so it's not a struggle.
We plan to take some material with us on the cruise as well, to keep up the progress.

I'm really so proud of both of them for jumping into such a hugely different environment with apparent ease.

The schedule is still an adjustment-- not getting home until 5:30 doesn't give us a whole lot of time together in the evenings. I've started making dinner during the daytime so that we can just hang out together in the time that we do have.

-- Derek had fun at the birthday party last weekend. I stayed at the center where it was held and did my best to chat with the other parents. It was good practice for me, but I had to concentrate so hard that my head was about to explode by the time the party was over.

-- I mentioned that we have a new church home. It's an English-speaking church that is very diverse. There are Spaniards, Americans, British, Africans, Asians...it's really neat to hear all the different accents represented there, worshiping the same God.
It's the one time a week we use our car. We took the metro before we had the car here, but it takes 15-20 minutes to walk from the station to the church, so driving is more convenient.

-- Let's wrap up with some pictures, no?

Josh, with his princess backpack, buying some licorice treats at the Atocha train station.
Because sometimes a twizzler wont cut it, and you need a two foot long, cream stuffed candy.

Heading home on the bus. It's a good day when we all get a seat.

The first Wednesday of the month is free to go up in the Old Post Office observation tower.
Only, we didn't know you needed to get (free) tickets first, and the line was too long.
So, we'll try again next month.

Plaza Cibeles.

Finally some pictures of our new place! This is my favorite room, check out the ceiling.


It has three balconies with a great view of our street and lots of light.
Comes furnished with two children.


Hasta Luego!


Skoots1moM said...

love all your notes about how different things are...
i would love to worship in that church...what an adventure and great way to meet people from all over...
hint i learned in my photo class several years ago: when taking a picture of a large monument, get the large object the way you want it in your view finder then have the people step into the shot (close enough where you can focus on their faces) :)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful women. The kids are pretty cute as well. Josh is some kind of guy being able to pull off the back pack

Love you guys

Anonymous said...

Another cruise? You poor things! Love your dress in that last picture. Hugs and kisses all around! Love , mama

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

Every single bit sounds amazing and I realized that a lot of that has to do with your attitude of embracing the adventure and not focusing on the difficulties. I'm sure that's why your kids are adjusting so well.

Taylor said...

A cruise?!?!?!
Is that you sitting by Josh on the bus? You in a PONYTAIL?
I don't think it is you.
I am still jealous.
PS does Alex have to READ in Spanish or English? Just curious.

I'm Erin. said...

No, that's not me in the picture, but I do wear ponytails frequently. Almost daily, actually.

Alex is working on reading in Spanish. She doesn't know what she's reading most of the time, but we're working on the sounds the letters make. She's making good progress. It's easier than reading English because the letter sounds are dont change as much in Spanish as they do in English.

Say hi to the pigs for me.

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