Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Christmas Card from us to you 2017

Merry Christmas! Here I am again to carry on the tradition of my annual Christmas card blog. This is officially year six and you can look back at all our other posts in the following links if you are curious:

Even though 2017 started out on a bad note with Laura being in the hospital for a few weeks and me having to leave my job, it ended up being a pretty good year. Looking back through past years´posts makes me realize how much things have changed over the past six years. We no longer travel as much, although we did get to visit Michigan this past summer. We have been living in our apartment for five years, although we are quickly outgrowing it and may be on a new house hunt in the coming year. Our lives are no longer consumed by bottles, feeding times and naps, although we are still holding on to one daily snooze for the girls. What I mean to say is that, life is good. Really good. And we have a lot to look forward to.

As always, here is our top ten from 2017:

10. Celebrating the girls´first birthday because  hey, they survived an entire year! Hell yes! And now, almost two years. I call that a parenting win. Laura and Vera keep getting more fun and funny by the day. We love them so much!
9. Another thing that has been pretty great this year is watching with wonder as the girls have begun to talk. Jose and I are making a lot of effort for them to be bilingual and it has been nice to be able to see the fruit of that labor. They have been talking a lot more this past year and it is amazing.
8. My parents came to visit us last spring for about four days and we had a lot of fun with them. Laura and Vera love their Noona and Poppa Walrus and we had a laidback visit.
7. We flew to Michigan for another summer of friends, family and fun. This past trip we got to see literally EVERYONE that we wanted to see I think. Even if it was for a brief time, we got to catch up with friends and family that we haven´t seen for years. We all especially loved staying with my sister Katie, Spencer and the girls´favorite person in the world, Daphne. We also crashed at my other sister Chrissie´s house for a while so that we could soak up some time with my other nieces Cawaline and Eve. It was fantastic.
6. While in Michigan we celebrated another GAGME trip to Indianapolis. While running around in our themed-gear we went to the zoo, the Children´s museum, the NCAA museum and out to eat with my parents, sisters and nieces. So fun.
5. We also got to hang around in Chicago with my sister Andie and Unkie Eric on our way in to the States and on our way out. We bought our flights so they would be direct from Madrid to Chi-town so that we could spend some time with Noodz and it didn´t disappoint.
4. Laura and Vera went to their first feria this past spring and dressed in their flamenca dresses. They were adorable. They even went on a few of the rides in the midway.
3. My mom came to visit us right at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 so she was here when Laura and Vera got to celebrate their first Reyes Magos experience. We all went to Jose´s hometown to see the parade and try to catch some of the presents they were throwing out to the crowd. 
2. We have also had the opportunity to spend time with Jose´s sister and her family a few times when they have come down from France to visit. One of our favorites was the weekend we all spent together at the beach in Portugal. The girls love their cousin Eva even if they don´t always get along when they are together.
1. Another of my favorite memories of this past year has been seeing how much Vera and Laura love their abuelos. They spend one afternoon with them each week when both Jose and I have to work and I know that they have a BLAST when they are all together. They love their Alolo and their Abuela and I am blessed to have family here who go out of their way to help us out when we need it and who love our girls as much as we do.

I hope that your 2017 was as good as ours and that you have a wonderful holiday season!

Merry Christmas to everyone. Feliz Navidad!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Just checking in before the holidays

Hi everybody! I just wanted to log on here today to give a bit of a life update for our family before the craziness of the holidays begins. Time has flown since we got back to Spain from our summer in Michigan. I could say that I don´t know where the past three months have gone, but I do know. And soon you will, too.

I started working in mid-September at a private academy one town over. I was looking for a teaching job this year that would let me stay home with the girls as much as possible and this position is perfect. I am with Vera and Laura all morning, drop them off at daycare around 3pm and then go to work until 10pm. Getting home that late sucks but for now and until they start preschool it is really important for me to be with them as much as possible, partly because I love being a part-time stay at home mom and partly because I really want to solidify their English before they start school. Even though they will be going to a bilingual school, I think having a strong base in English is important before they go and who better to do that than me? Jose is still at his school this year and when he gets out at 5pm he picks the girls up and they spend the afternoon together. 

Each week goes by quickly between babies and work and we have been trying to take advantage of each and every weekend for family time and every once in a while to relax. The fall was quite hot here in the south of Spain and it wasn´t until a few weeks ago that the cold of winter finally set in. With it came laryngitis and bronchitis for both girls. Woof. 

When we first got back from summer my sister in law and her family were here visiting so we got to spent some time with cousin Eva. The three girls are only two months apart and it is a riot to see them all together. None of them are very good at sharing but they spent some time together at the beach with their abuelo and abuela and loved every minute of it. My sister in law was back again recently to go to a wedding so we got to see them again. Laura and Vera love their cousin, I think more in abstract since they are always taking her picture and kissing it, than when she is actually here but that will change with time.

We of course celebrated both Halloween and Thanksgiving this fall. For Halloween we dressed the girls up in last year´s costumes and went to a party organized by a club I belong to here in Seville. I cooked a big turkey for Thanksgiving and invited some friends and their kids over on a Saturday instead of the Thursday since we were working. Thank goodness for our Costco for having turkeys on time this year!

Another weekend we finally went (we have been talking about this for years) to the Feria del jamon which takes place in my favorite part of the south of Spain, the Sierra de Aracena, a region with mountains to the north of where we live. We drove there early on a Saturday and spent the afternoon eating jamon and playing. We bought the girls a doggy balloon which was waaaaayyyy too expensive and which then later escaped from the car a few days later. So sad.

At the beginning of the month we put up our Christmas decorations, including a tree (which made me quite nervous since Vera especially gets into everything). But thankfully and since we put it in a corner behind a table, they have been ignoring it for the most part. As much work as it is to have decorations, I do love them.

We also decided we needed to go see Santa this year so we went to one of the biggest malls in Seville on Friday which was a holiday for us. We arrived 30 minutes early and got in the already long line. After waiting over 4 hours, FOUR HOURS, we finally got in to see the big man and the girls wanted nothing to do with him. Surprise, surprise. Needless to say, we won´t be visiting Santa again for a long time. It took FOREVER but after the first few hours we had already committed so much time that we had to just wait it out. At least I got some of our Christmas shopping done since we were already at a mall.

We also decided this year to get some professional photos taken of the girls to send out for the holidays. I think they turned out wonderfully but of course I am the mom so I would have to think that. I am only going to post a few of them here but since I know I have some readers who aren´t my Facebook friends I want to share with you too.

I am sure there are things that I have forgotten to mention that have happened over the past three months and for that I am going to try to make a better effort at writing more often. These are memories people! I will definitely be writing our annual Christmas card soon so check back! Happy holidays, feliz navidad and merry Christmas to all!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer in Michigan Part 2

Only a few days ago, Jose, the girls and I arrived back in Spain after spending six weeks back in the States. I wrote about the first half of our adventures here and about our annual GAGME family trip here but I figured I needed to chronicle the rest of what we did before school starts again and I forget.

At the beginning of August we went up north to celebrate our extended family´s annual reunion (PUFO) on Lake Huron. This year was an extra special weekend since almost all of my cousins were there, plus all of their kiddos. We had a lot of children under foot for a few days and the weather cooperated enough for us to spend time at the beach. My aunt and uncle had just recently finished a huge renovation on their cottage and it was beautiful.

Jose, the twins and I stayed a few extra days up north and were visited by our friends Erica and Ernie who drove over from Mount Pleasant. We all stayed at my cousins´cottage for a couple of nights. Unfortunately we didn´t have the best weather so while we could explore the nearby town of Tawas and try to find Eddie Murphy we weren´t really able to go to the beach. I am so happy that I was able to see my best friend a few times while home this summer.

We also made another trip up to Grand Rapids to spend some time with my sister Katie and family. While there we visited the Boulder Ridge zoo which was AWESOME! If you have never been I would totally recommend it. There are a lot of different animals but it isn´t a huge area to walk around which makes it doable with little kids. We got to feed camels and giraffes and ride on a safari bus which took us on a tour of the big animal enclosures. 

On the Boulder Ridge Safari
While in Grand Rapids I also went out with some of Katie´s friends and the girls got to hang out with their big cousin Daphne. Vera is obsessed. I think Daphne was ready for us to go after a few days but for us it was a good visit.

Laura and Vera fighting over a chair
Most of the rest of our time was spent at my parents´house on the lake. The weather this summer was gorgeous and we were outside a lot of the time. Laura and Vera loved that there was a small beach this year and enjoyed playing there. We went out on the boat a lot and Jose did quite a bit of fishing.

During our last week in Michigan we randomly decided to celebrate my brother-in-law´s 40th birthday as a surprise since it came and went without much ado earlier this year. Spencer obviously had no idea what was going on when we came outside to surprise him in our Dollar Tree birthday hats and Kroger cake but it was fun. We have decided to make this a new family tradition.

Another thing we do each summer is head to Frankenmuth with my mom´s friends for breakfast and a visit to Bronner´s which is a huge Christmas-themed store for those who don´t know. It is ENORMOUS and I love it. The girls liked seeing all the trees, lights and ornaments but it was a bit stressful trying to keep them from touching stuff this year. I got them personalized stockings which will come in handy this Christmas as I don´t think we will be putting up a tree (two toddlers seems to spell disaster and I really like my ornaments).

Bronner´s Christmas Wonderland
One of our last visits in Michigan was with my friend Dana and her son Jack who we met in Ann Arbor at the famous Zingerman´s deli. It was a short lunch but we got to catch up a bit and though we didn´t manage to get a picture together I am glad to have been able to touch base with my friend and meet her ADORABLE son.

Since we flew out of Chicago we decided to spend a few days with my sister Andie before we left for Spain. We all went downtown for a day and I was reminded of how much I like that city. The five of us walked all around and got to see some of the annual airshow that was going on at the time.

The bean 2017

The bean 2009

While in Chicago we also saw my friend Jenna and her husband and son for an afternoon. Our kids are all about the same age so it was cute to see them interacting together. Jenna is one of my oldest friends and I am happy to have seen her family before our flight back to Spain.

We honestly had the best summer ever and I had a really hard time leaving. I am happy that we made it back to Spain safely and without incident but I am really sad at the same time. We are still adjusting back to the time here and getting back into the swing of things before work picks up again. Waaaaahhhhhh!!! I don´t want summer to end!

Monday, August 14, 2017

GAGME 2017 Indianapolis

Daphne's face says it all
My family and I just recently got back from our annual weekend trip and this year we went to Indianapolis. We have dubbed our gathering GAGME and this was our third time escaping with as many members of our group as we can wrangle together whilst wearing themed clothing.

You can read about past GAGMEs here (Washington D.C. in 2014) and here (Grand Rapids 2016). 

We arrived on Saturday around lunchtime to Indy where we stayed at an Airbnb house in an up and coming neighborhood close to the city center. Our first day we hung around the house, letting all the girlies run around like crazy before heading to a local playground and then a brewery for dinner. It was a long day if only for the four plus hours we spent driving, each car laden with kiddos.

Day one's themed clothes RACING
On Sunday we went downtown and most of us headed to the zoo while a few others decided to hit up a bar and wait for us. As part of the group that went to the zoo (and since I was a responsible mom) I have to say we had a great time especially seeing the orangutan exhibit and the dolphins. On the other hand, I am very jealous of the three who got to day drink but that's another story. The weather was a bit off that day so the zoo wasn't too crowded and we got to see lots of animals. It was expensive to get in but I generally think zoos are worth the price. My girls loved it. 

Shark-petting exhibit
Dolphin dome
An orangutan came to say hi to all the girls
We did find beer (expensive beer)
Later that day we went to the NCAA museum after having lunch. I am glad we got our tickets through Groupon and that they had been really cheap because I wasn't very impressed with said museum except for the basketball court where Vera and Laura had a blast bouncing balls. After our visit it started to rain so we skipped checking out much else downtown. We did watch Game of Thrones together that night and I was made fun of for how intensely I lived the show. Whatever.

Nerds at NCAA museum
Lunch on day two
GAGME themed shirts for day two
On Monday we headed to the Children's Museum which was awesome! It's huge, with several floors of interactive exhibits, some permanent and others rotating. When you drive up to the museum the first thing you see is a pair of enormous dinosaurs climbing up the side of the building. We took the girls through the dinos, trains, space, dance and circus areas and I think they liked it but were overwhelmed. After being there a few hours it was time for us to take a break and we hadn't even seen it all. The museum is a must-see in Indianapolis but it is made for older kids rather than my little ones.

In the circus room

All the grand-girlies in their NCAA gear for theme day three
After the Children's museum we had lunch and hit the road four another long drive home. Things have changed a lot since we all started having kids. Vacations and plans revolve around naps and eating schedules. The activities we choose to do are ones we think little ones will enjoy as well. Indianapolis was the perfect destination for us with five kiddos under five and I would recommend it to other families out there. GAGME 2017 was a great time!