Let's begin with the What Not.
I realize that this is the slowest vacation recap known to mankind. By the time I finish it, we'll probably have gone on another vacation.
So spring has sprung in Madrid! We took a turn for the warmer on Sunday, and it looks as if the 70's are here to stay. I'll take it! And hope it lasts for awhile before summer makes its appearance.
The kids made the switch to their spring uniforms-- ditched the sweaters, short sleeved polos in place of the blouses/oxfords, switch from tights to knee socks for Alex, and shorts for Derek.
Well, maybe they would be better described as culottes. Or capris. They are quite long.
I would have gotten them hemmed, but then he might outgrow them and I would be forced to buy another pair next year and that cannot be allowed to occur.
Forty euro people. For shorts/culottes/call-them-what-you-will-they-are-ugly.
That would be $52.28.
I do not own a pair of pants that cost that much.
But we'll let that go. Because now he's starting to speak Spanish and if it isn't the most adorable thing in the world then I don't know what is.
Right now it's just a couple of words here and there, but once he starts speaking in sentences I will be sure to post a video clip so we can all share in the cuteness.
I believe it was sometime on our cruise that he made the switch from "Okay" to the Spanish equivalent of "Vale."
Me: Derek, stop picking your nose.
Now isn't that just precious? ;)
Alex isn't saying quite as much as her brother (it's harder the older you are), but she is definitely understanding more and more. Josh and I used to be able to get away with talking over their heads in Spanish and it isn't flying anymore.
We had a surprise for them on Saturday, and naturally they were asking about it every 5 minutes, trying to figure it out.
Finally I told Alex, "Déjame en paz, no está abierto hasta mediodia!" (Leave me alone, it's not open until noon.)
Then she causally walks over to her brother to report, "Mom said it's not open yet, so it must be someplace we are going."
They are definitely making progress.
Oh, and the surprise was a visit to the amusement park here in Madrid. We bought a pass that will get us in to the amusement park, the zoo, and some other local attractions for the rest of the year. We were quite impressed with the park-- it was like a Six Flags with lots of kids attractions for Derek and plenty of terrifying nausea-inducing rides for Alex.
Which she rides with her father, por supuesto.
We had a great time-- there's a metro line that takes us right there, and since we have the passes we can go and spend a few hours and leave before everyone's exhausted and cranky. I foresee a lot of time there in the months to come.
In other news, I signed up for a Spanish class with a Groupon I found here. It was a really good deal for 12 weeks of classes, twice a week.
But as it turns out, I'm a Spanish class misfit. The school uses the levels for the DELE exam, which is a Spanish as a foreign language diploma program.
Of course, I'm not interested in testing for a diploma, I just want to be able to communicate better. So I took the placement test and enrolled.
The levels go A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, C-1, and finally C-2
And the placement test was an online written test.
Folks, I studied The Grammar. Recuerdas?
When I was in Monterey I done studied The Grammar.
And so I did okay on the written test. With no speaking or listening component.
And they put me in level C-1. With all the smarty-pants folks who can essentially speak Spanish.
And I am the worst speaker in the whole class. And I would happily wave my white flag of surrender and ask to be moved back a level, but the grammar that the teacher is covering in class is right at my level. It's interesting and challenging, and I've decided to just stay put and be the worst speaker in the class.
So there you have it.
My kids will soon be talking circles around me, but I will be able to tell them that they should have used the subjunctive in such and such scenario.
We've had a couple extra family members here starting on Saturday night. We're watching the children of another American couple we met here. The kids are in Alex's and Derek's classes, and so the excitement level of a 4 night sleepover is running high.
So far everyone is alive and well, no one has fallen into a metro track, been hit by one of the motorcycles that like to drive on the sidewalks here, or left for school without brushing their teeth, so I'd say we're getting by.
Their parents left us some adult beverages with which to unwind in the evenings. ;)
Okay, now we shall leave the What Not and return to the Famous Tower segment.
After our rainy day in Rome, we were thrilled to find some sun in Pisa.
Derek took a moment to soak it in.
Pisa was about a 20 minute train ride from the port, and by then we felt like Italian train experts.
Except not really.
But we did get everywhere we needed to go, so that's something.
Crossing the river, and hoping we're heading the right way.
Yes! A reassuring sign. We will find the tower and we will take cheesy photos.
Yes, I'm wearing gym sneakers like any uncool tourist.
It was a lot of walking.
But let me assure you that the Spaniards would not have been caught dead in them. I was the only woman getting off the ship in anything less than heeled boots.
Man, one day the kids are going to look at this picture and think, Boy are my parents cool for setting this one up.
They probably wont even appreciate that we took them to see Europe.
But they did appreciate having gelato in Italy.
Derek said it was the best ice cream he ever had in his whole life.
Of course, he's never actually had ice cream. But I'll take his word that it was the best dairy-free ice cream imitation he's ever had.
This one loves all ice cream indiscriminately. She gets it from her mother. And helado is one word she is definitely familiar with.
Vale. Enough for now.