29 March 2011

A Trip to the Spanish/English Theater

Last week Karis' teacher asked if I would go with the class to an English theater.  I said "Sure!" or however you say it Spanish.  Maybe I said "Vale!" (pronounced bah-lay) which is somewhat of an equivalent.

I found it a bit humorous.  "Let's ask the English speaking mom to the English theater."  I hardly speak a bit of Spanish and I am going to help corral a bunch of Spanish speaking kids?!  Heh heh! 

I was, however, happy to oblige and glad to be asked.

There wasn't much to it and Karis was quick to tell me that she would help me if need be.  There my child goes again, translating for her mom!

The teachers have a good system down of getting the kids to the bus and on the bus.

The play we were watching was called "Thingamiboo."  It was about 50/50 Spanish & English.  I caught the gist of what was being said in Spanish and I was paying close attention to their accents and English sentence structure.  I find it interesting to observe.  They did fairly well.  I heard a few mistakes, but common ones at that.

It was about a Spanish mouse that goes to Paradise Island, where English is spoken.  The mouse encounters a lizard, a crow and a leopard.  All who are trying to entice her with cheese so they can take her home to presumably eat her.  She gets smart and makes up a tale of a large purple and green "Thingamiboo" which will be meeting her at any moment.   Which scares them off.

Inevitably, she encounters a Thingamiboo and although he wants to eat her too she takes him on a journey to find the lizard, crow & leopard and is able to get that cheese out of them after they see the Thingamiboo.

I took some pictures and video, but due to the lighting they didn't turn out so great.  But I put a slideshow together with a bit of the sound.  Just excuse the poor quality, bad lighting, ITouch photos!  Enjoy!

27 March 2011

Home is Where?

This is me (down in front), circa, nineteen seventy something....probably about '79.  My grandma and three uncles, in front of my parents homestead in Alaska.  My grandparents resided there at this specific time.

 "Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to."
John Ed Pearce

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."
May Angelou

"When you're safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home."
Thornton Wilder

Those quotes ring true for me.  How about you?

I always laugh a little when someone asks "Where are you from?"

I always feel like saying "Well, how much time ya got?"

If I have time I will say "Well, I was born and raised in Alaska, moved to Texas to go to college, married a Texan, moved to Russia for almost 2 years, lived in Prague, Czech Republic for 9 years and now live in Madrid, Spain."

Phew!  Not an easy answer for me.

Depending on the circumstances or situation I might just say "The US."

We have come to use "home" very loosely.  We use it when we talk about "going home to the US."  We use it when we're out and about or traveling and need to head "home" to our apartment, wherever that might be.

Sometimes I dream of what it would be like to stay put in one place.  Own a house and have the white picket fence.  It's appealing some days.

Then I get to thinking about what God has called us to, all the things we've done, experiences we've had, places we've been.  If I'm real with myself I realize that I would probably begin to feel a bit stir crazy with staying in the same place for very long.  That's just not what God has called me to.  If only we could have a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
God doesn't call any of us to make our home on earth though, does He?

How about you?  Do you like staying put in one place or moving around a bit?

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to Him and make our home with Him." John 14:23

25 March 2011

Spanish Torrijas

It's fun to learn new things in a different culture.  I was waiting for my kids to get out of school when a mom, who I've had coffee with a few times, of one of the boys in Brennan & Reegan's class handed me a packet.
I've now been introduced to Torrijas.  A traditional pastry eaten during the Lent season.  I couldn't wait to give it a try and do a little research.

Torrijas are similar to French Toast.  Bread, milk, egg, vanilla, cinnamon.  The only difference is they are deep fried in olive oil, which does give it a slightly different flavor and a bit more oily.  But they are good!  I plan to make them myself sometime!
 Do you like trying new foods?

23 March 2011


That's a little tat (temporary, of course) on her arm if you're wondering.  My kids LOVE tattoos!

It seems these days that most people have their kids reading at the age of 3 or 4 years old.  Well, that didn't happen in our home.

But Karis is a quick learner and is in the beginning stages of reading Spanish.  It can be a bit confusing for her.  Her biggest hang up, understandably so, is the Spanish letter "e" which makes an "a" sound.  She is always wanting to say "e" when an "i" makes an "e" sound.  Did you follow that?

She's doing so well!

I've got a book coming from the States so we can start working more on English reading.  We'll see how that goes, but I'm looking forward to working more with her.  As long as we don't pummel each other across the room first!

22 March 2011

Realities of Europe

Honestly, the questions in my last post were somewhat selfish.  Isn't that often how we as human beings think?  Or maybe it's just me!!
I often wonder what people, friends, family think of us living in Europe.  Are we crazy?  Are we on an exciting adventure in beautiful places?  Are we uhm.....crazy?  That first and last question are probably very true!  We are a bit crazy!
Thinking through and discussing these kinds of things is always interesting to me.  Peoples perspectives and ideas can be so vastly different based on so many different things.  Our education, experiences, places we've lived, people whom we know.

Sometimes I wonder how expats living in Europe are viewed.  Do you think it would be easy?  Western Europe has running water, toilets that flush, flashy fashion trends.  Doesn't sound so bad.

Honestly, it's not that hard to live here, comfort wise.  We have everything we need and more! I even have better internet than my parents!

I try to think back to before we moved to Europe and how I viewed it.  One of my lifelong dreams was to ride a gondola in Venice, Italy.  Based on that dream alone, I think I romanticized it just a bit.
Of course, there is plenty to romanticize.  It's beautiful!
Did I enjoy that gondola ride in Venice?
You bet!

 Oh how we look so young....with glasses.....and skinny!!  Circa 2000 with our spankin' new mammoth of a digital camera!

Have I seen my fair share of beautiful castles?
What do you think?

And cathedrals?
Just few!

However, the castles, the cathedrals, the Alps, the gondola rides are just a scratch of the reality that makes up Europe.

When picturing Europe most probably think of Western Europe, but in our communications work with our organization we see and cover Portugal to Far East Russia, from Finland to Greece.

It is put so well by a fellow in Spain.
"Missionaries living and serving in the Western Mediterranean region of Europe have a much different life than they grew up reading about in traditional missi. They have no huts, no bush and no fear of the jungle or cannibalism; nor do they see tribes of people converting to Christ. Instead, they live in big cities with busy people caught up in materialism and the post-Christian culture of Europe."

I also really like this article and think it's a good definition of what some do in Europe called Horizontal Missions.  The article is describing this as it pertains to volunteers that come to work in Europe, but I think it is so true of those of us who live in Europe as well.
"With no physical needs to meet and with no apparent opportunities to assist habitants in daily life, the foci can be more on prayer and building relationships than performing specific tasks. Trip planning is less about a predetermined daily schedule and more about following the Spirit as He leads. A typical day on this mission trip might be spent prayerwalking a neighborhood or hanging out in a coffee shop, prayerfully seeking to connect with one or two locals.  
 Citizens of the United States have the ability to travel to remote locations of the world and help the helpless, and should, for the sake of the Gospel. Yet those who exist in cultures just as advanced as theirs should not be forgotten."

Yep, that about sums it up.  In Western Europe, we may have a lifestyle similar to that in the US, but the task before us is huge and long!

I guess this is a bit of a challenge to you.  Will you take the time to think past the things you know that make up the reality of Europe?

You may be asking what that is.

Human trafficking and prostitution, to name a big one!
I came across this blog post last year titled "The Sex Cafe." I would encourage you to read it. It gives insight into where the human trafficking begins. It's sickening, but it's reality.

Did you know that the city we lived in, Prague, Czech Republic is a main thoroughfare for human trafficking?  And even more pointedly, the district of Prague 3, where we lived, is home to much of the cities sex industry?  Among all that beauty, cobblestone streets, picturesque views is a very dark city.  A very lost country.

In another part of Europe, the country of France, one M speaks in this article about prostitution and how they are reaching out to these women.
"In France, legalized prostitution includes paying taxes, accruing vacation time and having access to social services such as health care. But despite the fact that a secular government has given legitimacy to this profession, its dependents are still robbed of their hope and dignity.
Most women on the streets are either victims of circumstance or something far more sinister. Sex trafficking is a thriving industry in France.  Many prostitutes have been brought from other countries, had their passports taken, experience physical, sexual, emotional, financial abuse, and are often forced into dependent substance use.  Threats and intimidation are an every day reality for these women. "

There are so many more, but this post is already getting long, so I'll spare you.  But just to give you a little peek.......persecution of Roma (Gypsies/Roma are the largest minority in Europe), war torn Balkans, alcoholism in Russia.  This is just a tiny bit of the realities we are faced with all over Europe.  Maybe I'll share more about these at a later time.

Did you know some of these things existed?  Are you surprised?  So what are your thoughts of on the  work in Europe??

Will you join with us and pray for the people groups that make up Europe?

I would be ever so grateful!!  And would love to hear from you again!  Thanks for all your comments on the last post!

20 March 2011

First Thoughts that Come to Mind When You Think of Europe?

I'm curious......a little interactive post here.

Three questions for you.

What are some of the first thoughts that come to mind when you think of Europe?

Do you think of it as a whole, as the European Union?

Or do you think of it individually?  France, Italy, Germany??

I hope to hear from some of you!  I know there are a lot of lurkers out there!!  Speak up!  I'd love to hear from you!!

I'll be back to tell you a little more of where I'm going with this.

Be thinking and comment away!!

18 March 2011

A Ladybug Visitor

I had to run and get the kids because what kid doesn't like a ladybug?!  Well, I guess I can't say that because when Karis & Brennan were younger, they weren't too crazy about them runny around on their arms.  Reegan was always the brave one and loved to hold a ladybug.  They've come a long way!
Reegan was taking her turn when suddenly the ladybug started to fly and landed right on her lip!  Ha!
I thought she would freak and flail, but she didn't.  She just started giggling. It  looks like a bump on her lip, but it's a white/tan colored ladybug.

17 March 2011

Antiperspirant FAIL

Several years ago we discussing European antiperspirant with some friends that lived in a neighboring central European country.
In the US, we always just called it deodorant.  In Europe, you do not want to buy just deodorant. It is very important that you look for that crucial word "antiperspirant."  There are not as many options, but you can find it.
Having agreed with our friends that the antiperspirant we were buying in Europe wasn't quite as potent as the US version, I started having some brought to me from the US (or buying it when we were there).
Upon moving to Spain I ran out.  I figured that this country would have a comparable version.  Most people here smell very nice, so I figured I wouldn't have any problems.

Whoa, was I wrong.  Honestly, it is probably all me and not anything to do with Spain antiperspirant.  Cause let me tell ya, this girl can sweat!  I thought what I had bought was working alright until I had quite the surprise one day recently!  Let me just say "Eww!"

I know you all were dying to know that!  Ha!

I don't want to sound like I am brand bashing either, but I have now tried 2 different antiperspirants and I am not impressed!
Fortunately for me, my parents arrive in less than 3 weeks!!!  Guess what's on that "Gotta have it from America list?"  You betcha, antiperspirant!

I even went so far as visiting the website of my favorite brand, Secret!  
Who goes and looks at antiperspirant websites???
Me!  Ha!
Wow, they've got all kinds of new scents and options!!

I had to ask Jerry how his was holding up.  He said it was working fine for him.
In our antiperspirant discussion he had me take a look at the back of his.  This is what he found.
Down in the bottom right hand corner....... "Made in Russia for export only."

We got a good laugh out of that!!

You see, they don't use antiperspirant in Russia (ok, some probably do), but it's made there!!

And it might be that I went to the store and bought my husband's antiperspirant for myself.  I'm not saying for sure.  Ha!

16 March 2011

Scrap N Chat

My friend and colleague, Mara, hosted a Scrap n Chat event in our city of Alcobendas this week.  I wish I could say that I was crafty.  I am not.  But I went more for the chattin'!  Ha!
I obviously didn't read the information (in my defense, it is in Spanish!) because my idea was that we would be sitting working on photo books.  That's not what this was at all.
Look what we were making!
 Calendars and Father's Day Cards!  The calendar, above, is one Mara put together.
 Father's Day is celebrated on March 19 in Spain.  Lucky I learned that when I did!
 Above, Mara with a friend and participant.
The craft table!  All kinds of scissors and papers!  Thanks to a group in the States for bringing many of the supplies in years past!
My friend, Isabel.  She is the creative one!  I was often watching her and using her stamps, ribbon and tape!  Mine looked nothing like hers!

Another big Scrap n Chat event is coming up in May that will be a week long, I believe.  A group from the States is coming to help!  It should be fun!

Won't You Meet My Neighbor

This is my neighbor, Chus (pronounced Choos.....it's an "s" sound on the end and not a "z" sound like in English).  We periodically meet for coffee (and sometimes Churros) and I really enjoy spending time with her!
She is one of my "go to" friends when I have questions.  Her family introduced us to membrillo and her highschool daughter is great with my kids.  They love them some Anna time!
She speaks much more English than I do Spanish,  but we definitely have the Spanglish thing going for us and often are looking up words!  Ha!

Chus is from Valencia (did you know in Spain it is pronounced Va-len-thia?).  Just like yesterday, she told me about Las Fallas (pronounced "fayas" in English), a fiesta in Valencia.  It sounds quite interesting!  Beautiful paper status are created all over the city and then on March 19 at 12 am they are stuffed with fireworks and lit on fire.  Spain sure has the most interesting and intriguing fiestas!  I love the creativity in this country!

Chus has invited us to go for a Saturday trip to a nearby city, Sigüenza.  We hope to plan it for two weekends from now.  I'm so excited to spend some time with them and see a new Spanish town!

If you think of it, will you pray for them?  Her husband, Alberto is an engineer and lost his job due to the economic crisis in Spain.  He is waiting on a phone call at the end of this month to see if he has been accepted for a new position with a Chinese company here in Madrid.

14 March 2011

11 March 2011

Do You Struggle with Infertility? There is Something for You!

If you've ever taken a look at my "Path to Parenthood" tab at the top of my blog, then you know a little about our story and the incredible ministry that I am a part of, Hannah's Prayer (HP).

I found the online forums just over 6 years ago.  For the last 4 years I have been involved in leadership at HP.  First as a moderator and then the last 3 years as co-director for the Board of Directors.

A highlight of HP.....the retreats!  Since 2005, we've hosted 3 retreats.  This year in June will be our 4th!

Do you or someone you know struggle from infertility or loss?
Take a look at our events page for all the details!!

And guess who is going to be our speaker??

Holley Gerth!!!  Co-founder of (in)courage and writer for Dayspring.

We are SO excited to have her as our speaker!!

Consider joining us!!  And be sure to tell your friends!

10 March 2011

The Sardine is a Burnin'

Not a real sardine, but of the paper kind.
We got a note home before the Carnaval that the kids were suppose to color 2 sardine scales (which I learned at the parade, before that I had no idea what it was) and write on the scale something that they want to see disappear.  It seemed a little fishy (ha ha, like that?) to me, but Karis was eager to join in with her classmates.  I really didn't know what we were joining in by doing this, but we let Karis do it.  Daddy helped her write it so I'm not sure what she wrote.  Brennan & Reegan were sick during that time and I just never got around to having them do it.
The 6th grade class got to carry the sardine that was probably about 6 feet long.
You can just see it peeking through there.  Not sure why the class chose to dress in all black.
It was then paraded back to the school grounds to be put in a barrel where it would be set on fire.

I read that the burning of the figure of a sardine has it's roots in pagan celebrations,  symbolizing an act of cleansing.  Burning of the old allows the growth of the new and is a process of regeneration and liberation.  Burning a figure at the end of a festival allows order to be restored following the temporary subversion of order during the festival.  Which means you can get away with virtually anything during the riotous days of partying and carnival atmosphere as long as everything is put right by this one act at the end of it all.
Interesting, huh?

The sardine is lit!
And burned to pieces while the kids watch (the preschoolers at a safe distance, as you can see)!

And there ya have it.  Carnaval in Spain.

08 March 2011

The Carnaval Parade

Monday was our parade!  The kids were to dress up as people from around the world.  Brennan has an awesome shield he got on our trip to Segovia and decided he wanted to be a knight.  With battling sickness, costume hunting was put off to the VERY last minute.  Although, I am known to do that quite frequently!  Luckily, I found what I was looking for at the first shop I went to!  Phew!
The girls wanted to be princesses, of course.  I knew they would like the maiden costumes and of course they did.
Sweet sisters!

Off to the parade!
 Some other princesses with mine, waiting to go back to class after the lunch break.
 Sweet giggly girls!  Such fun!
 And the parade begins! Imagine you hear loud Spanish music blaring from the school loud speakers!
Brennan & Reegan's teacher, R with the class.
Karis' teacher, M and the class.

 This next photo CRACKS me up!  I guess Karis' classmate is not too thrilled with having his picture taken or parading one.  What's even funnier is the way his crown is sticking up.  It looks like two devil horns!  Ha!
Ok, here is a better one of our big princess!
This class all wore China outfits.

Our first Spanish Carnaval Parade.  Success!  Stay tuned for the burning of the sardine!  Curious?


The Carnaval (the Spanish spelling) season in Spain is very similar to that of Mardi Gras.  Parades take place all over the country and in the schools.  All last week led up to the big festival that was suppose to be held on Friday.  However, we had quite the snowy/rainy/nasty weather, so our school postponed the parade until Monday.
Last Monday I blogged about the face painting incident.  It wasn't a huge fiasco, but my girls sure stood out in their full coverage face paint, unlike the rest of the kids with red dots or butterflies on the cheeks.  Oh well, we didn't get scolded.  Ha!
The girls on Monday
Brennan stayed home due to a fever, but I didn't leave him out.
 (he was a character from Yo Gabba Gabba, in case you're wondering)
Tuesday was 2 different socks.  We decided to go with a bit of a crazy match.
Wednesday was wear a bow tie, which we don't have so we didn't participate.  However, in both Brennan & Karis' classes, they made paper bow ties (Reegan was home with a fever on bow tie day, but I made her one at home).
 And Thursday was hat day, plus wear everything worn from each previous day!
Ugh, grainy pictures, but hey, the problem has been solved!  When Jerry was out of country at a meeting he got one of the media team cameras and we now have a nice, top of the line Canon.  Really great camera, so hopefully we will have better pictures!  We did get our claim money too and plan to do some further camera shopping!  Woohoo!

Stay tuned for parade pictures!

04 March 2011

Spanish Jamón

What is Jamón (pronounced ham-own with a hard "h" sound at the beginning)?

Well, take a look!
This is the jamón aisle at our local supermarket.
Take a look at this jamon website to get a description of how the pigs are fed (with acorns!), cured, and eaten.

I haven't really had it yet.  The smell is unpleasant to me in the store and these big ole legs of ham are not cheap.  Some are 150€ (that's over $200!!!) or more!!

Spaniards will buy them and hang them on a hook in their kitchen and shave some off when they're ready to eat it.

It can be purchased in smaller packages as well.  I understand there to be different varieties and some taste better than others.  We need to take the opportunity to try it sometime.

Like I said, I can't really get past the smell!

But I'll try just about anything.

What say you?  Would you try Spanish Jamón??

03 March 2011

Hello Neighborhood

Hello swimming pool.  We miss you!  We'll see you in about 4 months!  Oh how I wish it was sooner!

Hello and thank you kind gentleman!

Hello crazy kids on the street!  You are getting TOO big!

Hello school!  Karis misses you on the weekends!

Hello neighborhood street (I buy some great bread at a bakery on the right)!

Hello park with the swings! My kids love to swing!


Hello cute bear trash can!
Our side of the street is filled with apartment complexes and our local elementary and high school.  On the other side of the street is a big open field with walking paths and grazing horses.  Quite the diversity!

Hello apartment building (ours is the second from the top on the far left)!

Hello dog park!

 Hello park......

 ......on a sunshiny February day!

 Pure giggles and fun!

Thanks for joining me on a tour of our neighborhood!


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