Friday, June 28, 2013

School's Out for Summer

It's been a busy first week of summer break for us.

Josh is still at home convalescing. He's had more appointments than I can count, seeing the embassy doctor every other day, an appointment with a dentist to make sure the soreness in his mouth didn't indicate any kind of damage to his teeth (they're fine), as well as a couple trips to an orthopedic doctor to figure out why his knee is so slow to improve. An MRI showed a tiny fracture of his femur that should heal fine on it's own given time. He's been using a crutch and staying at home with the exception of the appointments.
He's been able to do most of his work from home, but has been given the all-clear to return to work on Monday. The stitches are out, the black eyes are fading, and we're hoping that the rest of the summer is a little more low-key.
For you military folks-- I think Josh might have added to the statistics of the 101 Critical Days of Summer ;)

And on to the rest of us!

The kids had their last day of school a week ago. Can't believe how much they grew over the course of the school year.

First Day in Monterey.

Last Day in Madrid.

We are so proud of how they adapted mid-year to a new country, culture, school, and language. There were a few rough days for sure, but overall we couldn't have asked for more.

Derek had a graduation ceremony to celebrate the move from Educación Infantil a Primeria, our equivalent of Kindergarten graduation. It was all in Spanish and the microphone didn't work well, so that's about all I can tell you about the ceremony.

In his classroom:

We had an hour between the end of his ceremony and when Alex was finished with school, so I took the boy for a celebratory donut.

This first week of summer was also the first week of their tutoring sessions to keep them moving forward in Spanish.
Carmen is their tutor, and she comes over three times a week and works with them for an hour each. We listened in on the first session to realize that they've totally been holding out on us! They chatter with her in Spanish like it's no big deal, but it's like pulling teeth to get them to speak it to us.
She has fun games that they play to learn vocabulary, and yesterday they baked a cake together as part of their lessons. Her visits give our week some structure.

We also created a chart for both Alex and Derek to help them focus on the areas they need help with to be ready for the next school year.
For Alex, it's reading comprehension in Spanish, Lengua (the equivalent of English Language in the States), and math.
She was naturally still behind at the end of this half-year in Madrid, because the other kids are reading more complex texts as well as learning sentence structure, etc. while Alex was simply trying to pronounce the words and know what they mean. 

For Derek, we're working on his reading skills in both languages, and some math as well.

They've been excited to fill out their sticker charts, but I'm sure the newness will wear off.

In other news, Pat the Bunny arrives for a visit on Tuesday! I will be sure to document all of the odd happenstances that this should bring about. Maybe a special post will be merited,  
Pat the Bunny: Overseas.
She knows about two words in Spanish, so we'll try not to let her get lost in the city.

Random picture of my sassy girl.

I don't know where she learned the hand-on-hip pose. But it's too grown-up for me.

Friday, June 21, 2013

da beach...accident.

Sorry, I didn't mean to leave all 4 of my readers hanging, but it's been a crazy-busy week for us here in Madrid. We've got lots of ground to cover!

We left off with leaving Valencia and heading south to our hotel in the Benidorm/Fenistrat area. Apparently this is known to be a touristy area that attracts lots of foreigners with all inclusive-style resorts for a bargain.
Well, sign us up! :)

We found a hotel resort that had a nice pool with water slides, and included food, drinks, and entertainment just a 5 minute walk from the beach. Perfect!

Here are Thing 1 and 2 on our terraza.

You can see some of the water slides behind them in this photo of forced affection.
You will hug your sibling and like it!

 We loved the nearby beach.

Josh and I parked it here while the kids played on the beach playground.

If you look closely in that last picture you can see ruins of a castle tower at the peak of the hill behind them. The second morning of our stay Josh got up early and snuck off for a jog. He made it up there, but was disappointed that it was fenced off and he couldn't get in.
Later we discussed how maybe it wasn't the best idea to take off running when I had no idea where he had gone.
This might come up again.
Every night at the hotel they had a kiddie disco, where a couple of the employees would lead the kids in dancing. It was a lot of fun!

Waiting for it to start while the kids drink their 30th slushie of the trip.
I was drinking a Coco-Loco, if you care to know.

I haven't been able to upload videos to my blog, but I'm going to keep trying because you haven't really lived until you've watched Derek dance to Gangam Style.

You can see the fierceness on his face...

And then.
The morning of our last day at the resort, Josh slipped out of bed early again. He had told me the night before he was going to go running on the beach.
I woke up later and was getting the kids dressed for breakfast when the phone rang.

Let me break down the phone call for you.

The phone rings.
My thoughts:  Must be a wrong number, no one would call us here. 
Receptionist (who speaks English):  Yes, Hello. There is a man here at the front desk from the beach tourism department.
My thoughts: Yep, definitely wrong number. Should I interrupt her now or let her finish?
Receptionist:  He says that someone in your party has fallen while at the beach and been injured.
My thoughts: Oh crap. Not a wrong number.
Me: Is he okay?
Receptionist: blah-blah-blah- AMBULANCE- blah-blah-blah.

AMBULANCE was the only word that really stuck out to me at the time.

Me: I'll be right there.

So I left the kids in the room, and ran down to the front desk to talk to the Beach Man quien, por supuesto, habla solo en espanol. 
He tells me that Josh fell, hit his head, broke his hand, maybe his knee, but tranquila, está bien. 
Immersion by fire.
We work out that he is going to take me down to the beach, where the ambulance is still loading Josh.
So I raced back to the room, indiscriminately grabbing money, passports, cell phones, and children.

We got down to the beach right as they were closing the door to the ambulance, but they let me in to see him. He was looking rough, but thankfully moving all his limbs and still coherent.
They told me where there were taking him and I told him I'd meet him there as soon as I could.

Then the kids and I went back to the hotel, finished getting dressed, ate a quick breakfast, and prayed that Daddy would be okay and that please, please, let the hospital be in the Garmin.
It was.
And it was very close, thankfully.

We went over to the hospital where the language immersion opportunity continued. I filled out paperwork, was able to talk to Josh again, and spoke with his doctor.
His doctor let me know that because of the head injury they had done a CT and MRI, which thankfully were both fine. His hand was actually not broken, just a deep cut, but they were waiting on a specialist to take a look at it, he had bruises and scrapes over his whole body, a nice gash to the forehead, and was going to be spending the day with them.

So I left a cell phone with Josh, and the kids and I went back to the hotel. There was nothing we could do at the hospital, so we did this:

and this:

 I promise, we were still worried about Daddy, but slushies and swimming are good coping mechanisms, right?

He was able to text me now and then with updates; the doctors wanted to keep him for observation until later that evening. So the kids and I swam and ate and drank while Josh was cleaned and stitched and observed.
Later we went to pick him up, and stayed our last night in the hotel before heading back to Madrid the next morning.

And I had to drive!

It was awhile before I was able to get the full story from Josh, but here's a recap:
He was not jogging up that hill like before, but instead ran on a road near the beach. On the way back, he took a different route, a shortcut over the beach itself. He came to a section where he was blocked by rocks and decided to climb over them.
At some point, he realized it was steeper than he had thought and decided to turn back around and go the long way. That's when he lost his footing and fell what he estimated to be about 10 feet. He fell onto more rocks below, his head and right hand hitting first.
It was an isolated area and there was no one he could call for help. Realizing that he couldn't climb back, he instead had to go into the water and swim around the rocks to find help. He was bleeding a lot from his head, nose, and mouth, and could see the tendons moving in his hand where he'd cut it open.
Finally he was able to get somone's attention and a couple of men helped him out of the water and called the ambulance.

The list of things we have to be grateful for is long--
He wasn't killed or permanently injured. He didn't pass out after entering the water. He didn't knock any teeth out... I could go on, but you get the point.

And we had lots of good opportunities to discuss with the kids how grateful we are to God for protecting Josh, why sometimes bad things to happen, and why we praise Him in the good and bad.

My poor husband is still fairly laid-up. He'll have his third follow-up appointment with the embassy doctor this afternoon. We think the stitches will be coming out today. He hasn't been able to use his right hand at all, because they don't want him to close his fist while the cut is healing. His bruised ribs make coughing, laughing, everything painful, and his knee is swollen and currently unbendable.
And we are thankful for all of this, because although it is slow and uncomfortable, he is recovering.
His doctor is confident that he'll be 100% again.

And I still think he is muy guapo.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

da beach

We're back from our beach excursion, and boy was it a doozy!

I don't want to ruin the surprise ending, but let's just say that there was a lot of sun, sand, and swimming, with the surprise addition of stretchers, scans, and souvenir scars.

The 6 "S's" of a good vacation, no?

But on the bright side, we all made it back alive. Which I'm not exactly taking for granted these days.

So look forward to that while I start at the beginning...

Our first stop was Valencia, a little under 4 hour drive from Madrid. Josh plotted out our course to give us a pit stop at a castle.

This is one of Spains Paradores-- castles that have been converted into hotels, so you can brag that you spent a night in a castle. 

Since we didn't stay the night, we can only brag that we used the bathrooms in a castle.


A couple of hours later, we were seeing a different style of castle...

 Poor Derek is utterly incapable of opening his peepers for a sunny photo, and yet does not have the facial structure required to keep sunglasses on his face. He's a little flat in the ole face.

Pretty Beach!

So there were quite a few European-style sunbathers on this vacation, you know, sans top. Our unobservant children never even noticed.
They were too busy making sure they got sand in every crack and crevice of their bodies by making sand-angels, and drying off from the sea by rolling in sand.
There was a lot of sand.

After our afternoon at the beach, we got cleaned up and set out to explore a little of Valencia.

The next morning we hopped on a bus to go to a park Josh had scoped out online.

Yes, Alex is wearing the same shirt from the night before. I don't have a dryer people, we have to conserve.

The playground is a replica of Gulliver from Gulliver's Travels.
You can see how big it is from this google maps view.

And here's the clown crew sitting on Gully's head.

And his hand

You could slide down lots of his parts.

This also happened to be our 12th anniversary, so we had Alex take a picture for us.

And then we were off for another afternoon at the beach.

The next day we headed south to our next hotel.
To be continued...

Friday, June 7, 2013


We are heading out tomorrow to enjoy a beach vacation on the Mediterranean coast. We're spending a couple of nights in Valencia, and then a few more in a town a little farther south. Looking forward to our getaway!
Who knows? Maybe I'll even get behind the wheel again on our trip. I haven't driven in months.

- My monthly metro pass expired last weekend, and I didn't want to renew it since we're going out of town. Instead I bought a 10-trip pass to use with the kids, and walked as often as I could. This served a two-fold purpose of being economical and also preparing myself to don a swimsuit. I think there were days that I easily walked over 5 miles just going between school, my Spanish classes, the store, etc. We've been so lucky to have an unseasonably long spring, and I enjoyed exploring some new areas around the city. But I also realized that I really could use some summer sandals that are good for walking.

- For the first time in, ever, we made the effort of finding a regular babysitter. It's wonderful! I was always too nervous about leaving the kids with someone when they were babies, and then I used Derek's food allergies as an excuse for the next several years. But it would be a shame to miss out on the Madrid nightlife, so we are happy to have someone so we can have date nights here and there.
Josh and I went out last weekend and had a great time.

- We may have gone somewhere...controversial on our date. Josh insisted that we give it a try once, for tradition's sake.

He enjoyed it, I tolerated it.

Afterward, we went out for tapas and drinks and had a lot of fun.

I'm convinced that it's impossible for me to take my own photo and not have multiple chins.

Or maybe the problem is that I just actually have multiple chins. 


- I just remembered that our anniversary is in 2 days.
Happy 12th Anniversary Joshie-poo! ;)
Your gift is that I will call you Joshie-poo on the internet.

- After our trip, we're down to one week of school! We were able to find a tutor for the summer, so the kids will have Spanish lessons three times a week. It's been so much fun to see them continue to learn Spanish. The other day, Derek pointed out "Yo he visto primero!" to his sister, and I was totally willing to overlook that he was saying "I saw it first!" since he was speaking Spanish.

Maybe that will be my new rule, you can only argue in Spanish.

- Josh takes whatever opportunity he finds to practice his speaking skills. He makes me laugh. The only phone calls we ever get on our land line (which you have to have in order to receive internet service) are from telemarketers. Whenever that phone rings, Josh eagerly answers the phone and makes himself comfortable. He will listen and chat with them as long as they're willing, and then politely decline whatever it is they're selling.
He does the same with door-to-door salesmen or folks on the street that want us to sign or donate to something.

- Alex had "the best field trip ever" the other day. They went to a farm that apparently had a rock wall and horse rides. She is so much happier at school these days, and has plenty of friends to play with. I wish I could be a fly on the wall to see her interact with them.

Let's finish up with some pictures I never got around to posting before:

During the San Isidro festival, we attended the fireworks one night, and then enjoyed them the following night from our balconies.
You can see Josh on the right.

My baby boy taking a bubble bath with his squinkies.

Alex on her 8th Birthday.

Nos vemos!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

This is the way we go to school, go to school, go to school...

I thought it might be fun to document our daily trek to the kids' school, so I brought my camera along on Friday morning. 
Here we go!

Out our front door, and into the elevator. 

Down we go.

And out the front door of the building.

Two blocks this way. We pass many of the same people every morning on their way to work and school.

They race to the sunny spot at the end of the street.

Hang a right. See the dogs on the left? We pass them every day. We judge how early or late we are by where we are when we pass them. Usually we see them near our block, so we were running early this day.

One block this way.
Almost to the Metro.


Now, down two flights of stairs, and into the station.

Thru the turnstyles

And down the hall.

 Hurry down the stairs, because we can hear the train coming...

No time to look for an emptier car before the doors close, so we just push our way on.

3 stops on the red line, and hop off at Sol.

It's a big, busy station. Walk over to the blue line.

Down the steps because the escalator is out of order.

Good timing today, the train is pulling in as we arrive. 

Two stops on the blue line.

And off we go at the stop nearest the school.

Here is where I take a deep breath and gird my loins for the stairs. 
To get out of the station there are:



(Catch breath here)
 Out the turnstyles



 And Ohmyword it's the fourth that almost kills me.

The never ending staircase. It's the reason my butt hasn't ballooned to twice it's normal size once I discovered the super oferta of a doughnut and coffee for 1.50 Euro at the Dunkin Coffee on the way home from dropoff. 

But wait! We're not there yet. 

Emerge from the underground.

And head down the hill (Praise the Lord! I'd never make it up a hill)

Catch a glance down a side street of a man carrying no less than five beheaded pig carcasses.
Take a photo.

Getting closer.

Hang a right.

Quick left.

And we did it.

Por Fin!

Kisses and Hugs and all that jazz. 

Thankfully the trek home is a little less involved, as we just walk a little under half a mile to the bus stop, and it drops us off very close to our building. 
All in all, the morning route takes about 20-25 minutes depending on our timing with the trains.

Holla, city life.