So, it’s been a couple months since I blogged. Sorry about that. We’ve had a bit of a crazy upheaval in our family, which I may blog about sometime. We also had a really incredible summer, which I will update on the blog. We did a big trip to Tanzania, a fun trip to Disney, and a lot of local day trips here in Spain. Lots of beach, lots of pool. Our fall is also off to a wonderful start.
I am really loving the zone of contentment; I’m in this phase where I know change is coming. But, instead of freaking out or over planning, I’ve somehow adopted the Spanish sense of things; tranquilo. No joke, when I was talking to a friend about some big stuff, her advice was, “Tranquilo. tranquilo. no se preocupe ahora. ir a la playa para el verano. Cuando es hora de que encuentre el trabajo.” And so I took her advice, and calmed down not to worry about things. I did go to the beach for the summer. And, in its own time things have worked out. Best advice ever.
These days, I’m simply appreciating. Living here is so wonderful, so family focused, so personal.
In the mornings I wake the kids around 8, we get breakfast, and bike to school which starts at 9am! Reasonable time. They are attending a local public Spanish school and doing well!
After that I have a bit of time to myself, but usually I spend it like a Spaniard. I go to coffee and desayuno with my friends or Bryan. Real coffee in a real ceramic glass at an outdoor cafe; I stop and have coffee. So engrained in Mediterranean culture is this this mid-morning tradition, that it is not odd or unique in any way that Bryan would head out of the office for a bit around 10. In fact, the other day he had some time and we went on a mountain bike ride together mid-morning. It was so wonderful that I didn’t mind the construction worker cat-calling “muy guapa!” at me as I pedaled home, and just took the compliment for what it was. Only in Spain.
Of course, he can only join me if work isn’t pressing, which it oftentimes is. There have been weeks where I kind of don’t see him until weekends – his hours going from so early in the morning to late at night that I’m in bed. These are the times that coffee with friends is so nice. And getting together with the kids’ friends.
This week, we’ve had nearly non-stop kid social action. From playing at friends’ houses, to having them here, to birthday parties, its been nearly daily. The thing is, that when Spanish people do “kid stuff”, they really mean “get the kids together, so us adults can yap and have some vino”…and then walk home. It’s adorable. The parents here really make a natural effort to get to know the peers in their kids’ class. The kids are together in a school with a single grade from preschool – 6th, so it only makes sense that each class becomes a little family. The school district even has all kinds of special events for families and kids. There was a big european wide sports week, so our town had a Saturday sports day at the local park! All events are family events in one way or another.
You know what else I’m appreciating while I can? Food. No, not Spanish food…I think I’ve had enough meat and cheese to last a lifetime. But, really, even that is fresh; the supermarket sells all parts of the animals; there are packages of chicken feet and chicken carcass and chicken guts for pennies, if you wanted them. The butcher at our supermarket will hack apart a fish/cow/pig/chicken how you’d like it; no particular ‘cuts’ knowledge needed. Also, look at how I buy my cheese. All the packages are different because they were actually cut off a wheel.
But the freshly picked food is where I’m impressed. Maybe it’s just because we came from Korea where our produce was either unripe at the commissary or simply a bit too unique at the local market, but I’m so in love with shopping for produce here. The local Carrefour grocery store has amazingly ripe fruit and veg; tomatoes that are actually red the whole way through, and about 20 different kinds of tomatoes at that. I can also go the weekly market on Tuesdays and get fresh ripe produce straight from the growers at amazing prices. I’m talking fresh stuff! The produce is so ripe, it will go bad if I waited a week to use it. So, on my way to or from school on the bike I need to pop in and replenish about every other day. I love this! I love only worrying about the next couple days’ food at a time, not stock piling for a whole week or do tedious meal planning that I loathe.
Anyway, by 2pm I’ve had a morning to socialize, do some writing work, yoga, a few chores, and maybe shop. Time to pick up the kids from school. Yes, 2pm. They only go from 9am-2pm and this year do not have homework unless they didn’t complete something at school. And you know what? They are learning. Really well. And some pretty tough stuff. Zoe is doing 4th grade Lengua de Castellano (Castilian Spanish Language)! It’s grammar and reading comprehension and proper sentence structure and writing themes and figuring out syllables, and stuff that 4th graders do…but in Castilian. I can’t help her, and she does amazing. Avi is trying his best to understand the Spanish and make some new friends, but in the mean time he is doing great at learning cursive writing! They just don’t do print here. I’m so proud and impressed with them both and appreciating the incredible opportunity they have to be in Spanish school.
At school they get a long ‘recreo’- recreation break at noon where they go outside and play, and can eat the snack they packed. I pack alot, almost like a lunch, but true lunch happens when they get home at 2pm. Are you counting? By now we’ve had about 4 meals? This is supposed to be the big meal of the day, but for our American bodies it just doesn’t jive.
We lunch, they play, and then I have them do about 2-30 minutes of English Language homeschool. They simply don’t get this in school, and it would be great if they could keep up with their English-speaking peers. Zoe loves writing and reading; her challenge is spelling. Avi loves none of it and complains, but he seems to be getting the vibe that if he can get reading well, he can choose what he reads. Also, shockingly, he seems to really like grammar! As in memorizing what is a noun, verb, etc…. he seems to think he is just hot stuff for knowing those.
Later, around 5-6 are when extraescholares begin – extra curricular activities. This year Avi is doing futbol (what else, right?), and Zoe is doing rhythmic gymnastics (thats the dancy kind with the ribbons and hoops). After Christmas they will resume music lessons; both wanted some time off from violin. If it’s not a day when they have activities, then we usually play outside or go to the park to ride bikes and scooters or skateboards. When it was still hot, we’d swim. Or we have a reading quiet time, or they help with some project or chore I’m attempting to finish.
Dinnertime, in the evening is around 7ish, and we are still eating outside. The weather is cooling, so it’s quite pleasant and smells quite like fall.
Always, always we read at bedtime. Right now Zoe is reading The True Meaning Smekday; I will read a page or two and then she will stay up until I have to tell her to turn out the lights at 9. Avi is enjoying listening to the Magic Tree House series; I also read aloud from a Spanish rebus easy-reader box set we have called Tren de Palabras. It helps us both!
So, that’s our day and I appreciate every second of it. Mostly.