Sunday, May 26, 2013

Better late than never?

I have been called out for being a blog slacker (hi, Robyn).
I know, it's true. And I am without excuse.

Here are a few things we've been up to lately...

-- My baby girl had her 8th birthday! We celebrated with cake from a box mix, yet another visit to the amusement park, and with only half of her presents having actually arrived on time.
She declared it to be the "best birthday ever."

8-year-old are easy to please.

We are lucky to have a US mailing address at the embassy that allows us to order from Amazon in the US, since the prices are so much better than in Spain, but it comes with it's downsides as well. The delivery time is really unreliable, often arriving in a normal time-frame, but occasionally taking much longer.
Alex's birthday package with her gifts from Josh and I, as well as the items for goodie bags for her classmates, somehow ended up stuck in New Jersey for several weeks and didn't arrive here until last Wednesday (her birthday was on Sunday).

She wasn't too upset, as it kind of gave her a birthweek instead of a birthday. And the kids at her school seemed to enjoy the novelty of American junk versus Spanish junk.
We introduced them to the slap bracelet. I'm sure the teachers were thrilled.

I haven't uploaded the pictures from her birthday yet, so they'll have to wait a bit.

-- The kids have 4 weeks of school remaining, which makes for kind of a long school year when I remember that they started in Monterey on August 10th.
I guess technically they only have 3 weeks of classes though, because we are taking them out for a week in June while we make a run to the beach. Yippee :)
Josh has quite a bit of leave saved up (a product of many deployments and training courses--when you earn it but can't use it) and he is restricted from taking much time off once his course starts up at the end of August.
So since he has an opportunity to take some in June, we're going to take advantage of it.
We plan to head east to the Mediterranean coast and spend a couple nights in Valencia, and then a few more nights in a resort a little farther south. The resort has multiple pools and water slides, so the kids will be in heaven.

-- This weekend we discovered a new park in the city, guaranteed to be a summer favorite due to the fountains you can play in.

Forgive me, I hadn't showered.

 They had unique play structures spread along the park. We only saw a small portion, since the whole park is 7 km long, running alongside the river.

The fountains! We let the kids go European like all the other kiddos there in their undies/shorts. When in Rome...

They should have put the fountains a little closer to the hill of slides, since it would appear that you'll end up with third degree burns in the summer.

--Today on the way to church, Derek told Alex: Tienes mariquitas en tus orejas. You have ladybugs in your ears.
Which was true, she was wearing her ladybug earrings.
We still can't get enough of hearing him speak Spanish.

We were approved for funding from the government schools program for 6 hours a week of tutoring for the kids during the summer, so hopefully that will help them keep up their progress.
Maybe they'll let me sit in ;)

And lastly here are a few leftover pictures from the festivals a couple weeks ago...

These ginormous things dance their way down the streets.

We grabbed dinner after school in a bar while we waited for the parade to start.

Big Chulapos.

Hopefully it wont be so long before the next post!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

San Isidro

It's festival week here in Madrid. The patron saint of the city, San Isidro, is being celebrated this week and there are all sorts of crazy things going on. Puppeteers in the streets, music and dancing in the plazas, parades, fireworks, you name it! We have a schedule of events and so we've been striking out here and there, seeing the things we think would appeal to the kiddos.
The fireworks show was incredible! I think the best I've ever seen.

Josh thought it was especially neat that in one day here we saw bears making love at the zoo, watched our kids watch, and somewhat understand, Spanish puppets, and walked two blocks from our home to an awesome park to see fireworks over the lake.
We own this city.

Except for when we don't. Like most days when I fail to understand simple sentences.

Today the kids went to school dressed in old-fashioned madrileƱo clothing, como chulapos. 

I don't want to just come out and say he's the cutest little boy ever, but you can bet I'm thinking it.

In other news, we had Alex's second parent-teacher conference yesterday and thankfully it went much better than the first one. The key word this time was "better" and we'll take it!
She's understanding a lot more Spanish, but is still hesitant to speak it.
I can sympathize.
But her teacher thinks she's on track and given a little more time, will start speaking as well.
We're trying to arrange for a Spanish tutor for the summer for both kids, so they can keep making progress.

I'm still enjoying the class that I attend twice a week. It's always interesting and fun, even if occasionally overwhelming. It's taught only in Spanish since the students are international. There is one other American in the class, and then people from Russia, Ireland, Germany, Italy, China, and Brazil. So if we want to communicate between ourselves, it has to be in Spanish. And the instructor obviously doesn't speak all of those languages, so when someone asks for clarification on a word, he talks around it in Spanish and gives a description or examples.
Really quite interesting.

Here are some other pics from the park the other night. I made Alex pose for me a little...

Had to snap one of our little futbolista.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

A thing or two.

-- We've been enjoying a Spanish holiday that gave Josh several days off work, and the kids a break from school. It's the "Puente de Mayo" (puente means bridge), and so the kids only had 2 days of classes last week, giving us a 5-day weekend. It's been great, but tomorrow is back to reality.

-- Then again, my reality is pretty nice, so it's not a problem.

-- Alex technically had a 6-day weekend, though she didn't enjoy the beginning part. She woke up on Tuesday too sick to go to school, with a fever and complaining that her tummy hurt. The fever was really high and wouldn't stay away for long, and she also had a few middle-of-the-night puking sessions before I finally realized what the culprit was. The tummy complaints had overshadowed the sore throat, but when I got a good look in the back of her throat she quite obviously had strep throat. Poor baby was feeling so sick.
Thankfully the doctor was willing to call in a prescription to the pharmacy just based on my description of her illness (they are much more relaxed here about that kind of thing) and she was feeling better after a couple of doses of antibiotics.

-- Josh had a birthday during the break, but we kept it low-key since Alex was recovering. And also because we always keep it low-key. We're lame like that. His gifts were some of his favorite American snacks from the Embassy store. Woohoo. Jalepeno pretzels and twizzlers.
And then for his birthday dinner we had IKEA hot dogs while we were buying a new kitchen table.
We walk on the wild side.
I'm sorry Josh. I'll do better next year.
But now we're both the same age, so all is right with the world. I don't like being the older woman.

-- We made another trip to the amusement park over the weekend. The weather is beautiful and it is so nice to be out in the mild temperatures with the grass and trees so green, and all the flowers blooming.

Alex about to ride something that makes me nauseous to watch.

A bad translation...

We promised the kids at least once we would stay until after dark when the lights came on.
We had to do it quick, since the days keep getting longer.

-- Retiro Park is officially my favorite springtime location in Madrid. The park is so huge that we're still finding new places to explore. I wish I could hit "pause" on the weather and keep it just like this.

We figured out what was producing the giant bird droppings in the gardens.
(It's not Derek)


-- Derek came into the living room the other day wiping a bloody nose. The following conversation ensued:

D: There's a bead in there.
Me: In where?
D: In my nose.
(Josh runs out of the room to get some tissue.)
Me: Okay, honey, just breathe out of your mouth for a minute. What kind of a bead is it?
D: An orange one.

At this point I try to not laugh but don't succeed.
He blows it out successfully.

His bloody fingernail tells me he worked very hard to try to avoid letting us know about it.

Now all is well.

 Happy Cinco de Mayo.