Sunday, March 31, 2019


Aren't these kiddos just so cute... even with their tight-lipped smiles??  My girls are growing up fast and I feel like quality time with them constantly eludes me.  Their school day is so long and their hours at home so short.  When they are home it's like they're always on the march with me constantly giving orders... dinner, clean up, music practice, homework, pjs, bedtime...  if we're lucky we get some reading time in cuddled up on the couch together, most recently The Secret Garden. Add the crazily chaotic Cosette in the thick of all this, minus Ben half the time, and I got to say our time together isn't what I would call ideal.  

So, this weekend was a little gift.  

The attache organization planned a trip for us to Valladolid, a town just two hours north of us... I had no idea it was so chock-full of history and culture... it's not found in any of my travel books. 
We came to learn it was a predominant medieval city where the catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabel were wed and was the capital of the kingdom of Castile and later of united Spain (thank you wikipedia).  Cervantes had a home here (would have loved to visit the museum) and Christopher Columbus died here.  

So, after much deliberation, we decided to go on the trip, take the two older girls and leave the two younger ones with the Mizells since they owe us big time.  We dropped them off around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and headed to the girls' school for their open day (next post).  After seeing them in all their academic splendor, we headed to Valladolid.

It was such a gorgeous day for a drive, and it felt so good to get out and explore.  We have less than a year left here in Madrid and I feel like our time is slipping away! I am amazed (rather dismayed) at how our weekends are constantly eaten up with baseball, school events, work events, or church obligations. I miss the days in Germany when we could take off on any given Saturday.  It's ironic because in Germany the weather usually was the culprit in foiling our plans.  Here the weather couldn't be more perfect, and yet our plates are more full than ever with life's demands.  

Anyway, it was splendid to be out and about with the girls without the constant work and distraction of our littles. We popped into shops, ate tapas and ice cream, and participated in all the events without stress.  I was amazed at how well they got along with each other.  They didn't fight or bicker once.  They were constantly playing and laughing and giggling... they are soooo lucky to have each other. 


Military headquarters. Isn't Emily soooo tall?

Plaza Mayor

We stopped to take the picture after the fact, but on the left in that red building is where Christopher Columbus died, never fully realizing he made it to the "new world"

Valladolid cathedral that never was completely finished since they ran out of resources and moved the capital to Madrid

You can see how the backside of the cathedral was never completed

College of San Gregorio which houses the National Sculpture Museum (fantastic!)

Bell tower from the 13th century
Tapas... I ordered the callo (in the foreground) after the waiter convinced me how delicious it was cooked in a tomato herb sauce... doesn't matter what sauce it comes in, can't take away from the fact that it's COW INTESTINES.  I forced down two bites and couldn't stomach (haha!) any more

The very idea of Callo
That would be a bat on the wall

We saw some pretty morbid depictions of the crucifixion inside the museum, and I'm only posting this one because of Emily's comment and she looked it over... "He looks relaxed." Emily's hilarious sometimes... with zero intent.

Choir stall... the woodwork was AMAZING!

16th c. altarpiece of San Benito by Alonso Burruguete

A good lookin' bunch of attaches, right?

Lunch was cordero!  (lamb)

Kids' table

 And that's a wrap.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

February Happenings

Here's a rundown of our month. In future posts I'll try to break it down weekly... this post is kind of overwhelming. 
  First and foremost... amazing weather!  I don't know if I should be celebrating, because isn't this just a manifestation of global warming?? But man, who's going to complain?  February has indeed been very pleasant.  I love the climate here in Spain!  It's probably what I'll miss most. 

Yesterday, Ben was invited to a military formation where the queen attended and gave a speech.  We decided against the younger kids going, especially Cosette at this stage... she's a crazy handful is all I can say.  So, it was Dad and the two older girls. I was experiencing a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) but was happy they could have this experience and so grateful for the awesome pictures!

And they got to meet the queen!!  Isn't she stunning?  I particularly appreciate the two photo bombers on the left and right... haha. 

She also talked to the girls for a few minutes, which is super cool.  She reportedly asked them how they liked Spain and if they were learning Spanish... Si, SeƱora!  

My only regret was that I didn't get them fancied up a little more.  I went on a run before they had to leave and ran out of time to do something special with their hair.

Meanwhile, keeping' it real on the home front.  James had Axle over to play with which is always helpful for me when they have a playmate.  Busy, busy boys.  Look at their creation!

And keeping' it real with Coze.  She is seriously keeping me on my toes all waking hours (and sometimes non-waking hours) of the day.  We managed a bike ride yesterday to town after the crew got home and these are the only photos I got!  Yes, she has pastry crumbs in her hair!  We biked to a pasteleria called Mallorca right here in Pozuelo. It's a bit of a haul on the bike trail with lots of ups and downs but the kids actually did really well, albeit they were smoked by the end.  They are getting better and better on their bikes!  They complained about going, but when they got home they were beaming with pride for finishing the ride (maybe just happy to be done?).  I love seeing that kind of progress and development in them. It's good to push our kids to do hard things!

And some more exciting (or not so exciting) events from February.  I taught a couple women from our spouse association  how to make homemade rolls... Grandma Williams's recipe. They had previously been dinner guests in our home and had partaken of the sweet manna from heaven and requested a demonstration.  We finally fixed a date and made it happen.  One other friend, Maria from Spain,  couldn't make it at the last minute.  So it was France from France (yes, that's really her name) and Ana from Portugal.

Enjoying our chicken pillows... Ana on the left and France on the right.
 With the dough we made dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, and chicken pillows... which was probably biting off a bit more than I should have (no pun intended, haha).  It took the better part of four hours to do it all, but I think they had a nice time and enjoyed learning.

Ben and I attended an '80's party for our friend Jens from Germany.  The best part of the party was the music.  So fun to dance!  But when midnight strikes, I turn into a pumpkin and am done partying. Actually, it's more like 11:00.  Can we go home now?

Also, my Spanish tutor, Teresa, who I'm totally in love with, taught me how to make Cocido, a traditional Madrileno dish.  It's basically a glorified pot roast with chick peas. The broth is pretty intense though... they add bones, lard, chorizo, and lots of other unidentifiable objects to give it flavor.  It turned out alright, but what I really enjoyed was the soup I made with the leftovers. 

Teresa, my favorite Spaniard.  Maybe some time I'll dedicate an entire post to her. 
Caroline's domineering personality is strong as ever... Signs, like this, posted on her door have become more frequent when she feels she's been served some serious injustice by me, which is quite often these days.

And at the beginning part of the month, we had the Mizell children stay with us for TEN days!  Their parents went to the states job hunting for their upcoming departure from the state department. It was challenging, mostly because Ben was gone for a good chunk of it and Cozy was extra high maintenance.  Some of the suffering was self-inflicted because I thought it would be a good time to potty train... I forget what a herculean task that is.  But the kids had a blast and it was a special time for them.  Here are some photos:

And Potty Training:  Heaven help me!  The good news is that it's done now... it only took her a couple days ago to get the hang of holding it until she got to the potty, but it's still an effort.  She still wants someone to accompany her and help her every time.  Baby steps.

We also transitioned to the big girl bed... lots of changes for this one.  But she was more than done with the crib... throwing horrible fits at bed time and crawling into bed with her siblings instead.  

She'd opt to sleep anywhere but her crib!

But now she's doing great in her bed, a much easier transition than I anticipated.

Also, this girl loves to play in the bidet!  She makes such a mess with the soap and water, but it's better than letting her have the phone, which is her first choice!

Sunday stroll around the hood.  I do love this girl...

But she's crazy. 

Ben and I spent President's Day together... so nice because the kids are in school and Karla can stay with Cosette.  We met a colleague for coffee (hot chocolate) and then wandered El Retiro and went for lunch.  Such a beautiful day!  We love the city.

Waiting for a parent-teacher conference at the school... Emily got tons of praises from her teachers. 

And I love the little photos Agatha sends from Todos Ninos.  I get to peek at what James is up to during the day.  

We hosted a Valentine Couples Party with attaches and their spouses from Italy, Germany, and the U.S.  It was a lot of work, and kind of fun.  I don't know how much hosting I'll be doing in the future. We made these amazing raspberry cupcakes... the only pic I got a picture of.  We can solely thank them for our extra five pounds because we made way too many and had a ton of leftovers. 

And that's a wrap of the month!  See you next time!