Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy 2009

January 9, 2009
We're back, blog's over.

OK, just kidding. How could I stop posting pictures of my kids. Plus I have a ton of cruise pictures that still haven't been posted, but I'm getting closer. We made it safe and sound to the Carolinas where we visited Kevin's family for the holidays. Just as we were getting ready for bed our first night there, Kevin's watch alarm went off. Oh, that was the alarm that woke us up exactly 48 hours earlier to leave our Granada apartment to head home for the States. What a long trip. Before we were fully recovered from the jet lag, the girls and I started getting colds. I took full advantage of being on vacation for two more weeks and let my in-laws take care of us, playing with the girls and planning all the meals while I rested and recovered, which included reading four books in 10 days (Thanks again Gma Flo). The girls enjoyed some sunny days playing outside before coming to Oregon.

Here are some clouds I spotted from the plane after leaving North Carolina. I'm sure they have a scientific name, but I don't know it.

Thankfully we missed the almost 2 week snow storm here. What did they call it? The arctic blast? We made it home just in time to bring in the new year arriving to our house around 10pm. The house looked a little empty, luckily most of our furniture was moved in before we arrived though. (Thank you Gpa Bubba & Uncle Tom!) We unpacked our suitcases on a very rainy New Years Day and enjoyed dinner with my parents and brother.
The girls were so excited it snowed about two inches before they woke up the next morning and they could barely finish their breakfast.

I stayed inside and didn't get hit by this snow ball thrower.

The girls started school on Monday and both are very happy to be back home and reunited with their friends. Sydney says she's never leaving Oregon again. Kevin is preparing for classes to start next Monday and I'm in denial that we really do have a lot of moving back in to do. All our stuff is boxed up in the garage since we rented our house while we were gone. It would be so much easier if it was an actual move and I had just packed those boxes last week, but after 6 months and a very rushed packing job, I'm not sure where anything is. We're taking it slow, but some things you need right away.
Don't worry I finally found the can opener. Now, I'm looking for the toaster.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

24 hours

Sunday, December 14

OK, we leave Granada in less than 24 hours and we are trying not to dread the two day trip to the States. First we catch a train to Madrid, then quick catch a taxi to the airport and fly to Paris, hoping that none of our bags are over the 20 kilo limit. Then we have to spend tomorrow night in Paris, but at least we'll have all morning to find an eclair. On the way to North Carolina we have a layover in Detroit, I forget how long, but at least I hear they have a really nice airport. Then Kevin's mom will pick us up at 11pm, so glad it will be time to sleep when we arrive. Three out of four suitcases are packed, but I don't think everything else is going to make it into the last one. I foresee some repacking in our futures and leaving more used, but maybe not so useful items to my friend Antonia. It's a good thing I'll be gone as she'll probably be cursing me while sorting through all the great things I've given her. I'm hoping it won't rain today so we can have one last farewell walk around the neighborhood and I won't get wet working on the recycling. Farewell to new friends and we'll see you soon old friends and family.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Tuesday December 9

While I freak out about packing and cleaning I will let you guys ponder Venice.

Here is the post I wrote in Venice but never had time to publish.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We got 9 hours of sleep last night – ahh. It’s cold here, so glad I just bought a scarf at the dollar store before leaving Granada. I finally figured out why is seems so quiet and cozy here. Obviously there are no cars or motorcycles zooming around – just the occasional boat motor. Since there are no vehicles – the streets are very narrow – you see everyone who walks by and you can see the shops on both sides of the street – very cozy indeed. It is very easy to get lost though, every way you turn there are shops on small plazas with and alley that way and a canal with a bridge the other way. Wish we still had our little compass, they make orienting the map so much easier. It’s very cloudy today, which usually kind of frustrates me when I’m trying to take pictures of buildings, but it is winter and it looks kind of cool in the mist.
Having to eat out in Italy is always a pleasure. Who doesn’t like Italian food? Even at the bad places it’s still good. I had some yummy ravioli with meat sauce for lunch, Kevin had spaghetti with clam sauce, whole clams in the shells, normally I would shy away from something like that, but it was great. Wouldn’t it be great if they had clam chowder here, I hate the chewy ones you usually get in chowder. We made our way to St. Marks Basilica and it was awesome. We tried to feed the pigeons, but it was a bit scary. One flew up and pecked bread right out of Syd’s hand – she did not like that. We met an older family who is also going on the cruise – I wonder how many of the tourists we saw today will be on the boat? Click for pics.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Counting Down from 10

Saturday, December 6

Ack! I knew it was getting close, but I just realized it's only 10 days until we board that plane for the long haul home. Part way home at least, we'll be spending the holidays with Kevin's family in the Carolinas. It will be good to have some adjustment time to ease the reverse culture shock.

We arrived back in Granada last night after our Mediterranean cruise and visit to Seville, Spain. I only have 4 or 5 loads of laundry to go, really wish I had a dryer. Maybe I'll try to find a laundromat, but I've never seen one here. If fact, if I ever had to open a business here, I think that would be it.

We had a great time on the cruise, and I still haven't downloaded my pictures. Hopefully I will get the web albums done soon. The ship part of the cruise felt a little like being back in the states - familiar food and everyone speaking English. The girls loved it, in fact we only convinced them to get off the boat for 2 out of 5 ports of call. You see there was this place called Adventure Ocean, which we just called the kids club, that had free activities for kids ages 3-11 for 9 hours/day. Then they had a "Late Night Party", which was a little extra from 10pm-2am. Well, it took Kyla a couple days to realize that she couldn't stay away enough hours in the day to attend all the fun act ivies. Although she begged to go the the night time party, she never got to go, however they did get to stay until 10pm a few nights. It's easy to sleep in when you have an inside cabin at the very back of the ship - very dark and quiet.

One of the best parts of cruising with kids besides the fact that we got to do some quality sightseeing without whining was that you never had to worry about food. There is always something, well usually too much to eat from the time you wake up until about 10pm. Even on the days at port, if you manage your time will and pack yourself some snacks, you can skip trying to find lunch in some country like Tunisia, where you don't really want to try the food for fear of getting some stomach bug. In Lisbon and Seville we also enjoyed breakfast buffets at our hotels. This is our first day without some kind of buffet and it is not good.

I think I have mentioned before how you have to plan ahead for weekends and holidays in Spain as many of the shops, most importantly grocery stores are closed. So Kevin went out this morning to gather food for the weekend only to discover all the stores are closed. Hmmmm, there must be a holiday, well that would explain why the traffic was so bad last night and the bus ride took an extra hour. So we're back after two weeks and all we have is milk, cereal, bread and peanut butter. It could be worse. We're definitely going out for lunch tomorrow and maybe Monday too. Luckily, the rent collector, Barry told us about a grocery store that's open 24 hours and not too far away. I just googled Spanish holidays and discovered that Dec. 6th is Constitution day and Dec. 8th they celebrate the Immaculate Conception. I'm sure if we had been around we would have know about these days. The girls are actually disappointed that they don't get to go to school Monday, go figure!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

We miss our family, but we are thankful for cruises with turkey dinners. I only got one small piece of sweet potato, but that was better than nothing. We spent the morning in Tunis, Tunisia. We are also thankful that we don’t live there and we survived 4 hours of bartering for taxi fares and other knick-knacks and walking through the tourist shops. It was overcast with a few sprinkles, so I didn’t get a lot of pictures. We have 2 days at sea now and the boat was really rockin’ during dinner, but it’s better now even though I heard there are 60 knot winds (did I spell that right?). Now we can say we’ve been to Africa and saw a camel there bu
t we’re hoping the girls will choose to skip Morocco, so we can go on our own. We’ll see.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Welcome to Venice

Thursay, November 20

I Woke up at 5am after 4 hours of sleep to catch our plane to Venice. Kevin says he never did fall asleep last night. We found our way to the Hotel Palazzo Rosa - the entrance seemed very run down, but the actual rooms are clean and nice, right on a small canal. The staff is very friendly. I find myself speaking Spanish in the shops and restaurants – I think it actually helped in one bakery. I can actually understand some phrases I hear in the street. It seems extraordinarily quiet here after living in Spain. Sydney says it was a wonderful day because she saw a whole field of grass while riding the bus from the airport to Venice. There is really no grass in Granada and if you find some, there will be a sign that says "keep off".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bon Voyage

Wednesday, November 19

Aaah! We're headed to the airport tomorrow at 6:30am and I still have a lot of packing to do. I guess it's a little easier since we don't have much to choose from, just pack everything that's here. I think Sydney is getting a cold, she won't stop sneezing. Note to self - don't forget vitamin C and children's Tylenol. Not sure if we'll have an internet connection so you may not see anything here for a couple of weeks.
Two weekends ago we went to Córdoba, it was sunny and beautiful. We stayed right next to the Mezquita (Catholic cathedral and former mosque) and walked around the historic downtown area, visited some ruins and ate great tapas (hors d’oeuvres). That is how I imagined Spain would be. It helped that we were there for most of Sunday and part of Monday, less tourist activity since many places are closed those days in the winter. Click here for the photos of Córdoba

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time's flying, but we're sailing

Sunday, November 16

Wow, we just got home from a beautiful sunny afternoon at the Alhambra. The girls were reluctant, but they didn't have a choice. In the end they decided it was worth it to leave the apartment and visit the most famous castle in Spain. So glad we finally made it - I will try to get some pictures posted soon. The week flew by and I haven't even posted about our trip last weekend to Córdoba. It made Kevin and I ready for more traveling after taking a two month hiatus. We head back to the US exactly one month from today! It seems like it will be here before we know it - the girls will be so happy. We wanted to take a little vacation now that Kevin has accomplished a lot with his research, but where to go? How can we see more of Europe and convince the girls it will be fun and not have to worry about cooking or finging the right restaurant? Have you guessed - we're going on a cruise? (see itinerary to the right) It's a first for us and I sure hope they don't charge too much for laundry because we don't have enough clothes to last us that long. We'll also be skipping any formal dinners, hopefully hubby's tan tennis shoes will blend in with his slacks for the dressy dinners (or whatever they call the ones between casual and formal). I'm going shopping for some black shoes that I can wear with slacks and skirts. I only have three days to shop and do laundry. Ahhhhh! I sure hope Sydney goes to school this week. On Friday I bought my first Barbie to give to her as a reward for going to school five days in a row. Sometimes y' gotta do what y' gotta do.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Exploring Accents

Wednesday, November 12

You thought I was going to talk about Spanish accents didn't you? Well the accent here can definitely be a challenge at times, but there is this setting on my camera called "color accent" which I like to experiment with. Sometimes the pictures don't turn out that great, but it's still fun to try. Here is a picture of Kevin with his then new grill up on the terrace of our apartment building. This pics a little blurry - it was getting dark out.

Cooking is always a challenge for me, but even more so in a foreign country. I'm not good with meat and would rather avoid selecting, buying and cooking it all together. I really miss you Trader Joe's, no gourmet, frozen dinner's for the cooking impaired. You really have to plan ahead because there are no stores open on Sunday and the nearby markets close at 2pm on Saturday. Kevin had quite the adventure with the grill - they don't really have briquettes here, just real pieces of charred wood, kind of like cooking on a campfire. Why were we on the roof you ask, well we didn't want to offend the neighbors with our smoke so it seemed the most polite thing to do even if it was four flights up. It's a good thing he grilled for several hours - four different kinds of meat that kept us fed for a week. I don't think we'll be trying it again though. OK, back to the pictures. Too bad you can't see her face in this one - what a cutie.

OK, here are some color pics of Sydney wearing a flemenco dress while mopping the kitchen floor. Hmmm, the name Cinderella comes to mind. If any Spanish people are reading this, please don't be offended. (I think they tend to save these dresses for special occasions, but how could a girl resist all those ruffles).

She was really hamming it up with the mop, but I really love these next pics.

I'll conclude with an old favorite from summer '07 when the cousins got together for a camp out on Gma & Gpa's "farm".

Note: This post was written in response to the theme "Exploration" proposed by TotalMomHaircut. It seems like that could be the title of my every post since I started it in preparation to keep my friends and family informed of our summer travels in Europe and living for a semester in the south of Spain. If this is your first visit to my blog - Welcome!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Getting Closer

Wednesday, November 5

We spent the first month settling in, the second one working and studying Spanish and now I feel like we only have a few weekends left to make it to the Alhambra castle, shop for souvenirs and hopefully travel to some nearby or not so nearby places for our last chance at some sightseeing. Last weekend we walked up to the Alhambra, but didn't have time to go inside - you have to buy your tickets in advance.
All that rain last weekend made some beautiful snow on the mountains. It's starting to get cold here, thankfully the heat magically started coming on Nov. 1 even though we could have used it the week before. On October 11th there was a high of 82 degrees and on the 30th the low was 32. Crazy. Please send my winter coat!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Dragon

Tuesday, November 3

A new Chinese school just opened at the University of Granada and there was a Chinese dragon complete with drums to help celebrate. Kyla was so excited when she came home from school because her class got to go outsise to watch the show.

Today I am home with the girls. Kyla has a fever and a sore throat and Syd is pretending to be sick so that she can skip school too. I have given up on trying to make her go now that my class is over. I passed to the next level and it feels strange not to be going anymore. Thank goodness I have the internet and laundry to keep me busy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

This year..

Saturday, November 1
The costumes were simpler, the pumpkins were smaller, and there was no trick-or-treating, but girls had a wonderful Halloween in Spain. They don't really celebrate it here, but of course some of the kids at school dressed up and I'm sure there were Halloween parties. I can't really say for sure what they do here since we had our own little party for a couple of friends and stayed in for the night. So glad we did because it was raining pretty hard by the time it got dark. We worked on Halloween decorations, bobbed for apples and played pin the tail on the cat. We usually make soup for Halloween, split pea with ham & potato/leek/broccoli, but I had to give up on that this year since I couldn't find dried peas at the grocery store and we don't have a slow cooker or a blender. Luckily everyone was happy with turkey vegetable. At the end of the night we handed out a few pieces of the good stuff - I found mini Snickers, Twix, Milkyway and such that I found at the fancy department store in town. Which is where Sydney and I had to walk down the hill in the rain just to buy 2 of the last 5 pumpkins in town. One thing about small pumpkins is they only take about 15 minutes to carve - now that was nice. Just in case you were wondering - yes, Sydney is the ghost.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 31

Here is a little Halloween flashback. I can't believe it's been a whole year since we dressed up like this...

I also got a little crazy with Photoshop and turned Kyla from this cute girl...

To this scary girl.....

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Flush

Monday, October 27

I apologize in advance for the following video, but don't worry there is nothing gross and I promise that I had just cleaned the toilet.

Is it a volcano or a toilet? Most of the toilets in Europe have this two part button on top. One side you push for a small flush and the other when you need a bigger flush (you know what I mean). I think it's a great system for saving water. Our toilet doesn't care about saving water. Did you see how Sydney ran away as soon as she pulled the flusher? Sometimes the water actually comes out of the bowl or splashes the seat. OK, I hope you were entertained. I'm busy going to teacher conferences for Kyla, studying for my final and getting ready for a Halloween party.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

El Realejo

Sunday, October 26

A few weekends ago there were some festivites in our neighborhood. I'm sad to say I missed the kiddy pool sized pan of paella. Here are a couple pics from the small & spendy carnival.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday, October 23

Last weekend Sydney had a fever and I needed a little exercise, so Kyla and I hiked up the hill to the park Carmen de los Martires. We took turns taking pictures of each other.

Kyla spent most of her time feeding the geese,which were very practiced at catching the bread in mid-air. Watch for the tail wag.


Wednesday, October 22

Wow, a whole week without posting. I'm going to blame it on school - taking up all my free time. I only have one more week to go. In the meantime I'll just try to post random pictures so you'll have something to look at. Here is the building where I have my class.
Here is a picture of my class. It's a bit smaller now since four people were only there for two weeks. It also means that the majority of the "grown-ups" are gone and now there are mostly "kids" (under 25) there. I miss you guys! I tried to get everyone into the shade, but it didn't quite work out.
Here is Sydney keeping herself busy while Kyla is learning Karate.

I better go do my homework now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On the inside

Wednesday, October 15
I finally made it inside the cathedral that I mentioned in the last few posts. Can you see Kyla walking away wearing a yellow shirt in the center? Compared to the other cathedrals I have visited in the last few months it's not that impressive on the outside, but it's surprisingly beautiful and light on the inside. It doesn't have a lot of stained glass windows, however there are several clear windows up high that do wonders. I love cathedral ceilings, but it always makes my neck sore for a while. Click here to see a few more pics.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Columbus Day

Tuesday, October 14

In honor of Columbus Day here is picture of the statue/fountain of Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus in Granada. I'm not much on history, but I did a bunch of research on these two. OK, it was only a couple of pages on Wikipedia, but it was very educational since I've never given much thought to Columbus day. It's a national holiday here called Día de la Hispanidad and commemorates the start of relations between Europe and the Americas. October 12th is the day that Columbus landed in the Americas, somewhere in the Bahamas. Queen Isabel was the one who commisioned Columbus (Cristobal Colón) and this statue depicts that moment in history. I'll confess I never new Columbus was Italian. In 1492 Granada was the last unconqureed Muslim kingdom within Spain, and Isabella and her husband Ferdinand were the rulers at that time. Later they were givin the title Reyes Catolicós (Catholic Kings) by Pope Alexander VI. Eventually they were buried in the cathedral here in Granada. That's probably as much history as you'll ever have to read on this blog. We enjoyed having a three day weekend.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Spanish sneeze

Saturday, October 11

That's right, Sydney now sneezes in Spanish. You didn't know that was possible? Neither did I. Well, she got a cold on Friday and every time she sneezed it sounded like aaahcheees, which I'm guessing is spelled aachis in Spanish. It all started when she learned this song about the parts of the face and how the nose goes aaachis. I never new a song could change your sneeze.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Where's my wide angle

Friday, October 10

Wow it's already Friday and I never even got around to posting pictures from last weekned. We took the girls to check out a nearby neighborhood called the Albaicin. It's the old Arab quarter, all white houses climbing up the hillside with a great view of the Alhambra. There were some neighborhood festivies going on and the weather was perfect. We basically just walked around hung out at some cafes and let the girls play. I really need a wide angle lens. I just can't seem to get far enough away to fit in the tall churches here.
The girls spent some time climbing up and sliding down this semi-circular brick stucture. Not really sure what it was, but all the kids were enjoying it.
Click here to see a few more pics of the Albaicin.
The next pictures are of the cathedral in the center of Granada. I haven't been inside yet, but the light was so beautiful as Kevin and I were walking home alone that I had to take some shots. Yes we got a babysitter for the first time in over three months. There wasn't much open on a Sunday afternoon, but we had a peaceful time cafe hopping until we were full. The best was Cafe Futbol where Kevin had churros con chocolate and I had some iced coffee drink with cinnamon ice cream. Mmmmm. Back to the cathedral - it's big and there are a bunch of other buildings close by, so once again found myself unable to fit the whole thing in. Use your imagination to piece it together.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Will the real ham please stand up

Tuesday, October 7

Can you guess which one is a plate of thinly sliced ham and which one is my marble floor?

Doesn't it seem like a marble floor should be something beautiful and fancy, not like meat? I don't know how long it would have taken me to realize it, not long I'm sure, but ever since Kevin mentioned the similarities, I think it crosses my mind at least once a day. My floor looks like meat. Today my Spanish teacher said, "Spain is ham". I bet she's seen my floor.

You can see how is also has some tan and grey in it. Maybe it's moldy meat. I almost forgot to say that the one redeeming quality of my floor is that it hides the dirt extremely well. By the way the real ham was on the left.