Tuesday, October 31, 2017

flags, fountains, and friends

The Catalan government finally declared independence, on David's birthday.  There was cake in our house, and marchers with flags in the streets.

The weekend was full of demonstrations and rumors.  Madrid officially took over the region.  The news this morning said that the Catalan president is in Belgium, most likely seeking political asylum. Drama.

In the midst of it, we celebrated thirty-seven for this guy, with his lifelong bud, Aaron.  When we showed up for our double date to a Spanish guitar concert, they were even dressed alike.

Mrs. Dawkins sent a picture of the kindergarten days so we could revel in the nostalgia.  We did revel in it. Today those sweet friends flew away, and our hearts are full.  Life together, even for a week, is a grace gift.

Don't worry.  We made them drink from the famed fountain, that is supposed to ensure a return trip to Barcelona.  While I don't think the magic of the fountain will secure it, I sure hope God will bring them back this way again soon!

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Not a lot of words this week, 'cause it's busy around here with this gal and some seriously sweet grandmas from their church.  

Tomorrow night we get a double date with those cute boys from our high school that we used to slurp milkshakes with at Steak N Shake;) 

Monday, October 23, 2017


Play is really the work of childhood.  
- Fred Rogers

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Traditional Paella Recipe

As a farewell gift, Kayla treated me to a class at Cook & Taste Barcelona.

Ya'll.  I would never have gone to a cooking class. But here's the beauty of hanging with friends who are really different from you.  It's her thing, it's like a vacation tradition that needed to be fulfilled.  So I went.

And I had a blast.  

We left stuffed with good food, a lot of laughs, and a pile of fantastic recipes and kitchen tips. I wanted to share the Paella recipe with you, in case you're up for adventure.  

Traditional Valencian Paella 

Ingredients (Serves 4) 

300 grams corn fed chicken, chopped (Traditionally this recipe actually uses rabbit.) 
150 grams tomatoes, grated
100 grams green beans
150 grams red pepper, chopped
100 grams sweet onion, diced
100 grams butter beans
320 grams Bomba rice (any risotto rice) 
1 litre chicken stock 
15 saffron threads
olive oil, salt to taste
smoked paprika


Brown meat in olive oil in a paella pan, salt each time a new ingredient is added. When the crust gets darker than gold, turn heat down and put the meat on the edges and caramelize onions and peppers in the center. Crush garlic and saffron and add to pan.  Next, place crushed tomato in center and let the liquid evaporate completely. Add the remainder of the vegetables, sprinkle with smoked paprika. 

Add rice and stir at low heat for a few minutes.  Distribute evenly and pour in boiling chicken stock. 

Do not stir anymore, make sure the rice has enough liquid to cook. When the rice is dry, cover with a cloth and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. 

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.