Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Princess from Brave

We just arrived back from our trip to Andalucia (the southern part of Spain) and we had a great time. It was super relaxing and no one got hurt!

It's a great time in our lives for family vacations. I shall list why:

1- No extra equipment needed (diaper bags, portable cribs, strollers, etc.)

2- The kids are still easily enthralled--
   The beach? Awesome! A swimming pool? Great! Bowling? Is this paradise? Movies? Best trip ever! Popsicles? My parents rock!

3. Kindle Fire and Nintendo DS-- the quiet in the car lasts as long as the power supply.

4. There's a marked improvement in bladder control. Now if we have to pull over for a restroom, it's probably my fault.

So we began our journey by leaving Madrid before traffic hour, which meant I had to actually set an alarm and get out of bed. It was probably the worst day of my life.
Most days that I have to set and alarm and get out of bed become the new worst day of my life.

I believe this is an indication that my life is good.

We made it out of Madrid and to our first destination: Mérida, España
It's the northernmost underlined town on the map below, a little over three hours from Madrid.

It was a great half-way stop; Josh had researched the things we should see and we spent a couple of hours touring the town.
 Mérida was founded as a Roman city, and has preserved more Roman architecture than any other city in Spain. The center of the city is small enough that we were able to park on the street and then walk around to see the sites. Or sights, if you will. Both will work.


Temple of Diana

Roman Bridge

The kids' favorite part:

Then it was back on the road to the U.S. Naval Station in Rota, Spain (near Cádiz, which is underlined on the map).
It was time for a little bit of home!

To be continued. I hope. Because I'm really bad at continuing trip updates, as evidenced by the fact that no one has seen photos of our last two cruise ports from spring break.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Off we go...

Now that Josh is about 75% recovered from our last vacation, we're leaving tomorrow for another one.

Well it's a kind-of vacation.
Josh has his annual flight physical at the naval base in southern Spain (the same place we went to pick up our car) and so we're all going to tag along.
We'll spend several days there at Rota and then move on to see two more towns in the south-eastern part of Spain that we've been wanting to visit, Ronda and Granada.

I have to admit I'm looking forward to a few days in "little America" at the U.S. base. We'll be able to stock up on items at the commissary and exchange store that we can't find here in Madrid, take the kids to the movies, and eat American pizza.

Southern Spain also has great beaches, so there's that too, of course. ;)

Derek is forever talking about how Daddy needs to be careful on the rocks near beaches, and I mean all the time, so the other day this conversation occurred:

Josh: Hey, buddy. When we're at the beach next week, is there something Daddy should watch out for?

Derek: SHARKS!

Ach, that boy. Just when you think you've got him figured out.

Since we know vacations can be dangerous, I thought I'd update with what we've been up to lately, in case I fall off a cliff and am incapacitated:

-- I have done all the driving since the beach incident, as Josh's knee is still recovering.
I am getting better, but it is still nerve-wracking.
Lanes? What lanes? Purely optional.
Roundabouts? Yep, everywhere.
Crazy taxi drivers and motorcyclists? Give me heart attacks.
And this is all weekend, non-traffic-hour driving.

The good news is that Josh should be able to do some of the driving on our trip south tomorrow (it's a 6-hour drive)

-- Speaking of Josh's knee, he's started physical therapy for that, and his hand/wrist as well.
Turns out that the Spanish version of physical therapy is to have a good-looking young blonde give you massages.
Everything's better in Spain. ;)

-- The kids have been doing quite a bit of "school" this summer. Three times a week, their Spanish tutor comes, and I think they're doing great.
Derek is quite the chatter-box, and wastes no time in pulling Carmen into his room and shutting the door.

Ladies' man.

They play a lot of games together. 

Carmen and Alex do a bit more focused learning, but also a lot of arts & crafts and things to make it fun.
They both look forward to her visits.

In addition, we're still plugging away at our summer study charts. It's been good to have time to cement all of new things they had to learn so quickly when we arrived. 

--We went to a barbeque at the house of one of the guys Josh works with last weekend. Though they are Americans, they are native Spanish speakers, and the other guests there were all Spaniards. It was a boost to my language confidence, as I was able to follow almost all of the conversation and add to it as well.
We're getting there, ever so slowly...

-- We still have a very small social circle-- the two American families that we knew for the past 6 months have both left Spain this last week. I think my hermiting skills have prepared me well for this awesome, yet rather isolating, assignment.
We have met one new family, so we're starting to rebuild. Only one more to go ;)

(Now is the time to challenge me on Scramble with Friends. For I have no real ones.)

-- Our schedule is slowly changing to the later style of the Spanish. The other night we were in a restaurant at 10:30pm, although we were finishing up and paying when most people were still walking in.
Alex and I went to the amusement park together from 8pm-11pm one night, to get our roller-coaster fix. We got home from the "lunch" barbeque at 9:30pm.
We'll be madrileños in no time.

Off to finish the packing! Here's hoping this vacation isn't quite as memorable as the last one :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Around town

It's been so long since I've blogged that I had to go back and read my last post to see where I left off.
Tisk, tisk.

I can already tell the summer is going to go by too fast. This mama loves sleeping in every day, and the kiddos are at the perfect age where they can find their own way to the television and they leave me alone until someone gets hungry.
I suppose I could leave snacks out for them, but the truth is that they don't usually bother me until almost 10:00 on some days and I'm afraid if they were fed, I might forget to wake up altogether.
For shame.

I justify my slovenly life by reminding myself that at least they're watching Spanish TV, which is what their teachers said they should do. ;)

Once we're all up and fed, the three of us try to head outside before the afternoon heat comes. Our lovely spring has definitely given way to the heat of summer. We've had temps over 100 degrees a couple of times.

Unfortunately for Pat the Bunny, she arrived at the same time as the heat wave. We weren't able to see as much of the city as we might have had the temperatures been cooler, but the kids enjoyed all the extra time playing games and Legos with Grandma.

Again, we tried to get out in the mornings to do a little sight-seeing. Here are some of the things we saw.

The view of our "neighborhood church" from inside the park.

We finally made it up to the observation deck of the city hall building.

 La Almudena Catedral

Plaza Mayor


Puerta de Alcalá

And more, but you get the idea. 

At some point Grandma gave her camera to thing 1 and thing 2, and then we also got lots of pictures of blank walls, close-ups of my furniture, and proof that pants are optional in the Schore home. 

One of them snapped this shot, so now at least you can picture them here while they are being neglected in the mornings. 

A store. 

Derek did some modeling. 

Parks, parks, and more parks. 

Sneaking into the sprinklers. 

Usually I poke fun at PTB's camera work, but she snapped this one of my little love displaying his Lego vehicle filled with his squinkie friends and I couldn't possibly be more in love with that precious face.

Girls, I would start making your moves now. He has the sweetest heart, loves to snuggle, holds the door for ladies, is learning from the best how to spoil your wife, and is almost bilingual to boot.

The only down side to this catch is that he has his hands on or around his wiener about 90% of the time.

But that should pass.

I hope.

So it's been a month now since my dearly beloved took his tumble on the rocks. My last post mentioned his return to the office, but after a few days we realized that it wasn't such a good idea. Even with a crutch to help, he would come home with his knee twice as swollen as when he left. So he was back to working from home for another few days, then tried again with just half-days at the office.
Now he can manage a full day without the swelling, so that's a good sign. He also doesn't need the crutch anymore unless he's navigating stairs. 

Derek frequently says to Josh, "I think you should have been more careful, then you wouldn't have fallen off the mountain."

Good advice.