Thursday, December 14, 2017

Silas's P5 Christmas Musical

Silas was a tree in his class musical.  Let's just say, generally speaking, Silas gets the backdrop parts in school productions.  He's not much of a stage man, but he did that tree dance perfectly and watching him recite the Catalan poem so confidently was a decidedly good moment for all of us.

He has really grown this year in his language skills.  Primarily because his teacher, who I'm guessing speaks a good bit more English than she lets on, refuses to speak to him in anything but Catalan.  While I didn't exactly have the warm fuzzies over this policy, I have to hand it to her...he's grown by leaps and bounds already this year in language.

Their play was a mix of traditional Nativity figures, hilarious miniatures of traditional reindeer and snow fairies, and a few songs and poems. Afterward, we were all invited to the classroom to receive our handmade Christmas ornament, and look at the latest artwork.  Check out his amazing self-portrait! I sure hope that makes its way home one day!

We've come a long way since last Christmas, and I couldn't be prouder of my hard working little tree!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

An Early Christmas

We held our 2nd Annual Early Christmas Dinner with NanNan & PopPop on Monday evening.  The kids have been anticipating this particular dinner for weeks.  It's when NanNan pulls out the gift-laden suitcase that Silas has been dreaming of since last Christmas.  No one was disappointed.  My Mom knows how to give gifts.  

Love the memories that we are storing up with those sweet grandparents this week! 

Merry {early} Christmas!!! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

A blustery day at the beach

The weather said it would be 64 and sunny yesterday, so I planned a picnic at the beach after church.  But it was really a wind chill in the 50s, cloudy and super windy.  The wind surfers were out in multitudes, the sea was raging.  And we still had a fun time.  Asher was the only one brave enough to put his feet in that frigid water.  He is all in at the beach!

After dinner, we hit the Sagrada Familia Christmas Market, and found the hugest spool of cotton candy ever.  We threw caution to the wind, and let the boys eat all they wanted. One of my favorite childhood memories is getting cotton candy with my Dad at the Memphis zoo.  He's a legend now with my boys too! 

Poble Espanyol

There's a replica of a traditional Spanish village up on Montjuic.  The boys got free tickets from their school to go to the Christmas market there this weekend.  So we made the trek up the hill on Saturday with NanNan and PopPop.  Basically, the village was cool...but what my kids really got into was rolling down the astroturf hill at the top. It's the little things.

Here are a few pictures from the day.

Bon Nadal! 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Santa NanNan & PopPop

The MeRRy just rolled into Barcelona.

This is the 2nd Annual Christmas extravaganza.  The city lights are up, the tree is in Placa de Jaume, and Passeig de Gracia looks like a tinsel explosion.  Add NanNan and PopPop and their swanky hotel balcony that overlooks Casa Batlo, and we're set for a seriously fun week.  

Our parents are seriously the best.  It's not an easy trek for grandparents, but our all our crew makes such an effort to join for holidays when they can.  We love it!

My boys are beyond excited.  Both of their class Christmas programs are this week, and it's a rare treat to have grandparents in the crowd.  And they know that there's a suitcase waiting in our guest room that's chocked full of presents to go under the tree.

Here's to a week of celebrating the joy we have in that tiny babe together. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Tonight I helped in a Level 1 literacy class.  In Spanish.  It was definitely a stretch for me.

And I loved it.

During the Franco regime, the education system and a lot of other aspects of society, suffered greatly. For a developed nation, the illiteracy rate among Spanish women in their 60s - 80s is high.

There's a community center not far from my house that was opened after the regime fell in the 1970s.  The neighbors literally took over a government administration building as a sort of banner for democracy.  They turned it into a free school for adults.  A mother of Silas's classmate asked if she could take me for a tour there one morning.  It was full of men and women from all sorts of nations, learning languages and writing poetry together and discussing art.

I told them, my English is good, if they ever needed help....

They gave me papers to fill out on the spot. There are plenty of English classes that need help. I've been looking for a place to practice my language skills in real life, so I'm working towards becoming a volunteer.   I'm currently "observing" the methodology of the system, so I've been attending a few classes.  When they told me I needed to observe in the class of "alfabetizacion" I had to ask them to say the word about 5x before I had any inkling what they meant.

I've never been to an adult literacy class before.  It was, quite honestly, one of the most inspirational things I've taken part in for some time. Most of the women were in their 70s or 80s.  Several were closer to my age, but have recently immigrated and don't know how to read or write using the Spanish alphabet.

I've just been sitting here thinking what a blessing reading has been to me. How much my thoughts have been shaped by words on pages. How impacted I have been by lives remembered on paper. What a tremendous joy it is for me to sit down and write when I want to.  It's a gift that I very much take for granted.

When you sit down to read today, give thanks for the gift of literacy.

It is a stunning gift.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Start your engines

My license finally arrived.  The culmination of nine months of work and waiting.  I'm legal.

Kind of.

My last name is misspelled.  Apparently, a typist knew just enough english to get her in trouble.  They changed my last name to a verb.


If you ever need to go dawking, I can go with you.

Nonetheless, while the error is rectified, I have a license with my picture and signature on it. Hubs gave me a break from the toddler life yesterday for a couple of hours.  I've been too nervous to get in the car with the kids as yet. I promptly buckled myself in and sat there wondering why I felt so nervous.

I had to have a little talk with myself.

For the past 4 months, every time I've gotten in a car, I have been criticized about everything from the way I turn the steering wheel to the speed with which I shift gears.  This was to help me pass a picky exam.  But now, there's no examiner in my car.  I won't get my license revoked if I turn the wheel with one hand over the other.  I passed. It's done. Freeeeeedom.  

So I turned up the radio, and headed for the beach.

And as I did all those crazy roundabouts and intersections I was really glad I've had so much practice with that instructor.

Let me just note also  that I love the beach in winter.  It's so solitary and rugged.  The waves feel like they are crashing just to say how mighty God is. As if His majesty could just swallow up your smallness.

I drove back into the city refreshed, and really grateful that Asher and I can spend a morning now and then away from the hum of traffic.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

Before we move on to the inevitable Peanut Butter Balls, I wanted to post a few of my favorite finds this Thanksgiving.  I had some wins, and a few fails too.  I attempted to make crock pot mashed potatoes. I soaked the potatoes overnight, because I thought that if I stayed under the 12 hour rule, all would be well.  I felt so ahead of the game that morning.

I was wrong.

Two hours before our big get together with the American crew on Saturday, I checked on those potatoes and found they'd become rock hard.  Fail. Off to the store hubs went, and we started all over.  I'm assuming it was the variety of potato I bought combined with the overnight soak. Lesson learned.

In an attempt to stretch my skills a bit, I tried a Pioneer Woman variation of Green Bean Casserole this year.  After I finished that mushroom rue, I felt like I'd run the gauntlet...and won. You can find this 5 star recipe here.  It got thumbs up all the way around, and I seriously doubt I'll ever try another recipe.  It was delicious.  Note to those who may be put off by the first section, which explains how to fry your own shallots.  I skipped this and topped it with a sprinkling of pre-fried onions from the store.  And it still won all our votes. It's on the repeat list for the Christmas menu.

This easy pumpkin cheesecake was a keeper too.  I traded the pre-made crust for a crushed biscotti and butter crust, and prepped it in a small springform pan. I loved this because I made it 3 days ahead. It settled in well and saved me stress on the day of Thanksgiving by being ready to go.

For the kids, I made these glazed pumpkin cookies. They were easy and delightful.  We made them into turkeys with Oreos and some imported candy corn from the American shoppe.  A big hit with young and old alike.

Happy Cooking! 

Friday, November 24, 2017


This little turkey came down with a fever the day before Thanksgiving, right when my hands were full of green beans and cobs of corn.  He sat on the couch for an entire afternoon and watched Calliou while I cooked up a storm.  In hindsight, I doubt I would have accomplished half as much if he had been well enough to "help" me.  Asher calls himself a good "cooker." And he is my little kitchen buddy often.  Cracking the eggs open is his favorite job.  I'm sure you can imagine how that goes.

His fever broke around 3am on Thanksgiving morning, and David got to hang out with him for a while before they fell back asleep.  The boys, including David, who started his language intensive the day I finished mine, all went to school for the morning.  Asher watched more Calliou, and I cooked for a gathering with friends.  They very kindly said, "Bring that baby over, sick or well." And so we went, with thankfulness overflowing.

My heart just feels so overwhelmed with thankfulness that we have friends to share the day with, a toddler to tend, boys to toss a ball with and a beautiful country to live in. Holidays always bear the temptation of wishing to be somewhere else - for me that somewhere is always my grandmother's farm on Thanksgiving. This year I felt better able to bear that tension - to be glad that I have family to miss but still be really present right here in the life I'm living.

This week my heart has been just about undone with the gift of gratitude.  God is so wise to command it of us.  All sorts of beautiful fruit pours out when I obey.  Joy being among the most delightful of those fruits.

Here are a few pictures of the day, for posterity's sake.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!