Thursday, October 19, 2017

The day it rained

Today, it rained.

A lot.

I got caught in it at some pretty inopportune times.

But now, the city air is fresh and the chill of fall is rushing through the windows.  I'm about to eat Ben & Jerry's and finish an episode of Victoria.  I'll be glad to go to bed tonight and start a new day in the morning.

I had my driving exam today. The one that has been in process for about eight months now.

At 8am, I had bike trouble and then bus trouble. And it was raining.  But thanks to hubs, I had a buffer.  Though in the end, I did have to run up Montjuic to make it on time. I told myself the whole way up the hill that this is what I go to the gym for anyways, right? To meet the demands of life. As it turns out, I beat the Spaniards there by a good thirty minutes.

 I had heard rumors about a female examiner with short hair who is really rough on students, particularly foreign females.  When the examiners finally did arrive, a cafe con leche was needed before getting started. The students were crammed in a car while the heavens broke open. When I saw her walking toward the car, her hood was up.  As soon as she got in and pulled it off, I saw her hair.  Short haired female, and definitely not very sympathetic to foreigners.  She spoke a mile a minute.

You test in pairs, and my counterpart was an older Belgian woman, whose nerves were getting to her.

She went first.

I was so tense when she made mistakes that I had to restrain myself from audibly groaning.  When it was my turn, the examiner looked at my residency card, which is in renewal process, and told me I couldn't test until it was renewed.

I tried to explain my case in Spanish.  She said my Spanish was so bad that she couldn't understand a word of it. Ouch.  Hello, humility.  A gift of language acquisition. There was some negotiation with my teacher, pleadings from me to call my lawyer for the details, and finally we drove us back to the test center to consult with the big boss. They said it was fine.

This could have impacted me in the opposite way.  I was actually resigned by that point to the thought that passing an exam on a day like today would be nothing short of a miracle. My nerves let up a bit.

I took the wheel, and drove.  For thirty minutes.  In the pouring rain.  Really it was torrential.  Sometimes it was so loud that I had to ask her to repeat her instructions.

When we finally pulled back in, it was still raining.  She told us in rapid Spanish all the ways we didn't drive properly, then let us know our results would be posted.  Basically, I cross my hands underneath when I turn the steering wheel, etc.  (In her defense, it's not exactly her job to be nice to us. So, no hard feelings, right?)

I got lost going home.  In the rain.

And I spent most of the afternoon recovering my courage to live in a foreign country.

Then, I went to pick up the kids. In the rain. I can't push a stroller with an umbrella in my hand. And my rain jacket has no hood. I don't know why I bought a hoodless rain jacket 5 year ago, but I did.

But after I walked in the door, I got a message from my driving school.

I passed the exam.  It's like a small miracle. If I ever see that examiner again, I'll thank her, in Spanish.

Ya'll. I hope it's sunny tomorrow.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Girona, In Pictures

We took the speed train to Girona on Friday for a Mommas' Day Out. We toured the cathedral, walked the wall, and ate at a restaurant that took two hours to serve the full three course lunch.  (Because sans-kiddos, you can sit for two hours, right?) Here are a few pictures of the day.

Bridge built circa 1877, designed by Gustav Eiffel, before he constructed the Eiffel Tower. 

The famous colors of the houses on River Onyar, the line that marks your entry into the old city. 

Romanesque Tapestry of Creation, circa 11-12 A.D., housed in the gallery of the Cathedral. 
 (One of the most fascinating pieces I've ever seen!) 

The "Crowns of the Martyrs" in the Cathedral gallery. 

Cathedral courtyard, complete with stone carvings of creation, and apparently also -- monks shaving.  

The city wall first built by the Romans in the 1st century, was built on top of by Peter III the Ceremonious in the 14th century.  It has since, obviously, been restored by the city and makes a fantastic walk around the city. 

This sweet friend flew away today, leaving behind some truly precious memories of time together. Farewell for now, Mississippi! 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Month of Mississippi

October is a month of visitors for us.  And we are gladly receiving those faces from home.  This week, hubs has been seriously busy with work and I've been hanging with some Mississippi sweetness.

Kayla's family "adopted" me when I was in Mississippi for college.  And they just kept me on as a part of the family after that.  Seriously, I once vacationed with her Aunt and Granny.  She was in junior high and wore overalls when we first started hanging out.  I was her camp counselor one summer.  

Now she's a wife and momma, and that girl can tour a city like nobody I've ever seen.  

She's like a walking Rick Steves guide.  And she knows more about Barcelona than I do! For the most part, I'm holding down the fort with the kids until David's conference lets up tomorrow and making her try grilled goat cheese and empanadas when she walks in the door from her touring. 

Asher and I did join her for a morning at Park Guell though, followed by some delicious treats at Chok.  Here are a few pictures from our roaming this week. 

Stay tuned for pictures from our Momma's Day Out in Girona, Spain.  Coming soon!

cat and mouse

The drama continues.  Today, there were 65,000 people in Plaza Catalunya to celebrate National Day and express their support of a united Spain.  And by next week, the Catalan government has been told to give greater clarity on the status of the independence declaration or the province will face the possibility of Madrid imposing direct rule on the region.

Politics, friends.

As we all know, politics are just plain painful to watch sometimes.  

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


On Sunday there was an opposition rally for those who oppose the move for independence.  I ran into the march on the way home from church.  "Viva Espana" was shouted from the same street corners that held innumerable Catalan flags a week earlier. 

Things have been relatively quiet this week.  It seems a bit like the city is holding its breath until tonight. At six o'clock the Catalan leader will address Parliament.

He could declare independence. He could bring more dialogue.  

Either way, there's likely to be plenty of opposition from both sides. 

A friend wrote to me that she was praying Psalm 46 for us.  These words are beautifully true every day, but particularly potent in this season. 

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; 
He utters his voice, the earth melts. 

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Uncle Edmund

One of the hardest parts about living internationally is the distance between our family and people that we love.  One of the best parts about living in a beautiful city is that when those people we  love do come for a visit, it is so much fun to share it with them.

This weekend, a dear college friend dropped in for a visit.  I always kind of stammer when I try to explain this group of friends to people. 

Basically, while the masses were partying at college, David and three of his friends were sipping hot cocoa, and reading The Chronicles of Narnia aloud to one another.  This evolved into a rather devout Narnian order that has not lost effect in the fifteen years since graduation.  "Edmund the Just" graced us with his presence this weekend, bringing drawings of Aslan from Queen Susan's princesses.  

You see why I stammer to explain? 

It really is a wonderful kind of magic that hasn't faded in all these years.  And since I married in, I get to be a part.  The boys entered right into the story, and called him Uncle Edmund the entire time.  I do actually think Silas thinks there are real castles involved.  He was overheard whispering to Edmund the Just about the swords we possess, just in case there were any adventures to be had.  

It was so good to have face to face conversations with someone who has known us for a long time.  We are still "new" in the city, and there's just a different depth with people who have walked beside you through many seasons. It was good for our souls.  And we ate a lot of gelato together, which goes a long way in encouragement too.

We meet to part and part to meet. Until the next adventure, King Edmund.  

Long Live Narnia!!!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

a hopeful vote

We are living in historic days here in our city.  Right now I am listening to an eruption of cheers, cow bells and car horns from the balconies and roads around us.  Fireworks and drums.  Chants and whistles. It is deafening. They wanted to vote. Today, amid significant push back, they did.

It is possible that within days, a new nation will be born.

At this point, there really is no way to know what tomorrow will hold for our city.  I can't deny that it is exciting to be in the midst of that, however far removed we are personally from the politics that inevitably are a part of such a situation.  Along with the awareness of what a monumental time this is in this province, there is the realization that this has been a long story. It is a story still being written.  We are watching it unfold on the streets around us.

Nations really aren't born in a day.

This is the culmination of a lot of quiet lives who have never stopped dreaming of this moment.  People who held on to their national language even when it was dangerous to do so.  It is a culture that was cultivated around dinner tables and over Spanish wine, in quiet houses and on covered verandas.

It is a story long and winding, but as every story is, it is made up of small moments and unseen days. A people who were true to their heritage and refused to forget who they are.

Whatever happens tomorrow, hope is alive today.  And I have to admire them for that.

It reminds me of another story I know.

Another country promised.

Hope lives.

Friday, September 29, 2017


The farmers came to town today.  Made me want to hop a plane and go drive a tractor with my Dad! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The 10th Anniversary Get Away

David and I were able to get away for twenty-four precious hours this weekend to celebrate our upcoming 10th anniversary.  It was fantastic!!! We stayed at Mas Tomas, originally built in the 14th century. We ate at the seaside in Spanish fashion at 9pm and enjoyed the quiet of just being together.

We hiked the Cap Roig trail along Costa Brava and explored the ruins of a settlement they think was founded in the 6th century B.C.  Europe knows how to make a decade feel small in the grand scheme of things, doesn't it?  But it has been a decade worth celebrating in our little home.

 I'm so grateful for the friends that made it possible.  Asher stayed with his favorite puppy pal (his very kind owners are our friends:).  He loved it so much that he cried when David came to get him! The boys went to an amusement park with some guys from church and had a blast. The informed me that the day included chocolate bars, Fanta, and ice cream, and rode the slime cups. What a weekend!


Might I just reflect that while we love our children, really, really love them, it is unbelievable how much more relaxed we are without them. There was no flurry to feed anyone at the restaurant, no diapers to change, no one woke us up in the morning, and we didn't have to tip toe around after 8pm.  It was a good reminder that seasons do indeed change.  And these little people won't be little for long.

Here's to our first decade together! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

the day without cars

Today was the official "day without cars" in Barcelona.  It's an optional exercise in environmental awareness.

The local library blocked off a street and set up an interactive display.  Silas walked over with his class for a quick field trip this morning.  We hit it again after the kids came home.

The bike obstacle course was a big deal in our house.  The dinner time conversation got a little tense about who had the most biking injuries.

Ironically enough, I had a driving lesson today.

Next week was supposed to be the culmination of my eight month driver's license saga.  My final practicum test (not to be confused with the written test, for which I studied all 2,799 question) was scheduled for this Tuesday.

However, there's another strike on Tuesday.  Test cancelled.  At this point, the humor definitely wins over the frustration.  What's another month?

So we spent our lesson driving around town, on the day without cars.

the clamor

For the past two nights, at 10:00 on the dot, our neighbors start banging pots and ringing bells on their balconies. Cars blow their horns.  Shouts erupt.

At 10:15, it stops.

It is, apparently, the clamor for independence.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Just in case you haven't heard it on the international news, there's some pretty serious stuff going on in our town these days.  We've been hearing the rumblings since we arrived, but it is beginning to come to a head.  Last week, a million people marched in the streets for independence from the rest of the country. The capitol will hear none of it.  Let's just say the political situation is a bit tense right now.

This is what it looked like a block from our house last week.

Thankfully, it's a peaceful process at this point.  We're not really sure what the days ahead will hold though.

Pray with us for peace in the city and for the good of the people.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

sante gelato

You know you're creeping towards 10 years of marriage when you ask hubs if he might consider running up to the gelato place for you at 9:30pm because you just really need a little sweetie.

And he walks to the freezer, pulls out the exact flavor that you want -- which he purchased at 6pm on his way home from work.

He's a keeper. And this gelato, ya'll.  I slightly regret we even found this place...I used to have to walk a full mile for a good raspberry gelato. Now, we found a hit only 3 blocks away. That's good news and bad news all in one.

P.S. My gelato craving may have something to do with the first week of school rigor.

By this morning, everyone was claiming "stomach ache" and begging to stay home. Silas even convinced his teacher to send him home with his backpack for lunch because he was "too sick" to return. But I put that pack right back on his shoulders and sent him anyways.  He had a great time and was all smiles at pick up. The drama is almost too much for this momma!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

School Begins

Second Grade and P5 started today for these little cuties! I asked them at lunchtime to rate their morning on a scale of 1 to 10.  10 meaning the best day you've ever had, and 1 meaning someone dug a hole and poured dirt on top of you. 

Jude gave his morning a 9.  His bestie from last year is in his class and sits across the table from him. 

Silas gave his morning a 0.  He doesn't understand his teacher and he didn't get to eat his chips at snack time. 

This was not particularly surprising.  Last night Silas had a "stomach ache." Then he had the hiccups.  Both ailments were referenced as reasons why he should probably stay home from school. 


And so we begin.  

I feel confident that at least by afternoon pick up, Silas's perspective will have improved a bit.  

If not, there's always tomorrow! 

Here's to the 2017-2018 School Year! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

The piano

We bought a piano. A small, apartment-sized electric that we found on the second hand website.  And we love it.

No. We don't play the piano.

I mean, beyond those childhood piano lessons, which have actually been helpful.  David says he's pretty sure he quit because his piano lessons were during 2nd grade.  Maybe not the most motivating hour for a seven-year-old.  I probably just quit because--well-- I'm undisciplined.  😂

We're using a pretty cool website called Skoove to take lessons.

I know, I know.  My more musical friends may be sighing right now. Music lessons online is probably not the best option, but for us, it's the most affordable (and linguistically simple) way for us to all learn the basics.

We're actually loving it. It's been really relaxing for David and me in the evenings.  And Jude and Silas can just squeeze a lesson in when we have time.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fall Fun

We took the boys to the mountains for a long weekend before school starts up on Tuesday.  We roasted marshmallows, drank hot chocolate, climbed some good sturdy trails, and enjoyed the quiet cool of fall.

The northern winds are picking up at the peaks, and by the time we left, there was snow in the forecast.  We probably won't return again until the summer sun warms those peaks up again, so we were glad to get a few good hikes in. The biggest hit was the salamander pools.  I felt my only-gal-in-the-family status when I just had to own that I really don't want to touch salamanders. Ever. Hubs was happy to take over the salamander hunting. The boys loved it. And I enjoyed that mountain air. Here are a few pictures for the scrapbook.

And now, we're barreling toward the first day of school, and praying for a surprisingly calm night for all our Florida friends.