L'ego my Eggo!

I hear there is a waffle shortage in the US. I share your pain fellow Americans. There are no frozen waffles here. The closest thing they have to frozen waffles is a thing called Gofres, which looks like a waffle but tastes like the syrup is already infused. Imagine the sugar shock we all got the first time we tried to eat these "waffles" with syrup one morning. Only Alexa succeeded in eating more than a bite. Even without the syrup they are one sweet treat. Whew. So, no waffles. When Nick's cousins were here in July we mentioned how we missed our Eggo waffles. And that I hadn't been able to find a waffle maker here. When they returned home, Steve and Danielle sent a care package that included a waffle maker. I was thrilled. Our first attempt at making them was foiled because the plug didn't fit into our energy transformer...the one that helps an appliance that is made for 125volts take 240. I did notice a week or so later that our laptops which already have the capacity to switch energy levels have the same plug. We use a simple plug converter for our laptops. I came up with a plan. I'd use the plug convertor to plug the appliance into the transformer thus creating the perfect electric pathway to make our waffles. I made our batter. I plugged it in...we made three perfect waffles before we lost power to half the kitchen. This is not an extraordinary occurance here so I asked Alexa to flip the fuse switch. Then I smelled the smoke. You know that electrical smell...and I noticed wisps of white drifting up out of our transformer. Yep, we blew the transformer. Apparently I was supposed to include how much energy the appliance used...which is too much for or little transformer. Luckily only the transformer is damaged...and waffle batter makes ok pancakes too.

Thursday night was Jessica's Holiday show. Well, it was the elementary school's holiday show but since she is the only one of our kids left in Elementary it is Jess's.lol Here is a pic of her before the show.

For some reason the vidoe won't load. I'll try to upload it elsewhere and add it.



picture added

I forgot to mention that I added a picture of Joe and Jess in their Altar server outfits to the corresponding post below.



Spain does not celebrate Thanksgiving. I'm not sure it crosses anyone else's mind but it really is a quintessential American holiday. Because of that, our kids had school on Thursday and Nick had work. I did pick up three of the kids early to get home to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade which starts 3 pm our time. Andrea chose to stay in school and go to play rehearsal. Our little Judas is very dedicated. So, we were Thankful for Slingbox so we could enjoy the parade so far away from home. Plus, with the Lexington office closed it was easier for Nick to get out at a decent time. And I was especially thankful that Nick was able to find Christmas PJ's for the kids at Corte Ingles on his way home from work continuing our tradition for one more year.
Mostly we are Thankful that we were able to celebrate with several other families on Saturday afternoon. Our neighbors and fellow Americans, The Zieglers hosted all of us for "traditional" turkey with all the trimmings. She did call me frantically about 45 minutes before we were all to descend on her house to help her pick up the turkeys she had ordered from the market. Her husband Ted had disappeared without his phone while taking their son to a travel futbal game and she didn't know when to expect him. I was happy to help because while I had heard of this particular market that was rumored to be open on Sundays (I know...I should have found this place) I had never been there. More to be thankful for...when we showed up to find the 4 turkeys she had ordered spinning temptingly on the rotisserie. Our helpful cook!

Here is a picture of Jessica on the left and my friend Laurie on the right. She is also new this year and is in my Spanish class with me.

Kari and Mike
Here is Ted, the host, carving the turkey.(one of them anyway)

The boys enjoying some dinner.

The adults outside swapping Thanksgiving stories and various adventures.

The kids lined up at the dessert table waiting their turn at the goodies.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. Our health, Nick's good job, some fantastic experiences and the opportunity to meet some fabulous people, who take you in as family and make you feel at home.


Proud Mom Moment

Going to church with 4 kids has always been a bit of a challenge, trying to keep them all paying attention and participating. And now we're in Spain which is full of beautiful cathedrals. There was lots of motivation to get back to church. We had taken a year off of church because it was hard to find a mass in English....and by find it I meant, not only whether there was one and where but WHERE....in the city it was located and most importantly, was there parking. Parking...my biggest anxiety producer here. So, we got over those hurdles and have started going to mass regularly since school started because I'm determined the oldest three will be confirmed this year. So determined that I volunteered to teach the class in order to get it done. Even though we've been going to church (almost) every Sunday since September when Kelly Gallo, who's helping us coordinate the Confirmation classes, asked Joe and Jessica if they wanted to be Altar Servers today I panicked a bit, because not a mass goes by that I'm not shushing, separating and giving pointed looks to follow along the book and say the prayers. Had they even paid attention to the Altar Servers and what their role was? Clearly, my children were not affected by any of these concerns as they didn't need to be asked twice and were already half way to the sacristy by the time I could nod. Kelly assured me Father Jordi would walk them through. And I couldn't have been more proud as they came out in their white robes and assisted through mass. There was a couple yawns and a fidget or two but all in all they were perfect. Father remarked after how well they had followed along and said the prayers. Now, they can't wait until next week to do it again. I'm so proud of the great job they did.


Another weekend update.

2 updates right in a row. I'm cooking with gas tonight.

This past week we fought a head cold virus that Alexa and Jess have been down with. We're left with a residual cough that seems to go on forever. Friday I sent Alexa back to school...and Jess had the day off for Parent teacher conferences.
Jess and I spent the morning on Friday looking at a few houses that are for rent in our neighborhood. I think we've hit the boiling point at how much we're willing to deal with in the current house. This past week we've had to fix the laundry machine. The upstairs heat still doesn't work dispite having the guy out to look at it. We need an electrician and after 4 days still can't get one to call us back. Oh the joy of living in Spain. The internet has been spotty this week as well, I apologize for anyone trying to call...or wanting calls from us, the signal isn't strong enough to support the call all the time. So, we went househunting. The houses were ok...not nice enough to want to move from here though. But the process is beginning. I'd also like to point out to those keeping score that Nick hung curtains in the upstairs bedrooms while we were in Massachusetts this August...just saying. Curtains are up, time to move on.lol
Jess and I headed to the mall for some fun and fancy free time. Plus also, her birthday is Monday and we needed presents. We decided to dine at McDonalds for lunch and then headed back to the school for our conference. It's good news to report that Jess is doing well in all subjects in school...she is a little chatty...but, we all know that right?
I stuck around the school and brought the kids home because there was a bus strike on Thursday and Friday. Andrea though, went on an overnight trip with a few teachers and some 10th grade students who were filming a short story they'd written in drama class. Andrea was going along as a Digital arts student to help and also be a runner of some sort. She came home Saturday afternoon tired and excited about how well the night went. Apparently their little horror film had a surprise visitor/squatter from a near by property that freaked everyone out. But, the security they had with them kept them safe. So no worries, just a great story to tell.
Nick and I revisited the boat show on Saturday afternoon looking for the elusive perfect boat. I think we have it narrowed down to two or three....or four.lol
Today, we went to church services in the morning. We had our Confirmation CCD class with the three oldest, poor Jess just sits along. A friend of mine has joined the class which makes it really interesting to have an older perspective...and great to have another adult in the class.
I baked a cake for Jess today, from scratch. I have to say I'm pretty proud of my box-cake making self that it came out incredibly tasty. The kids loved it. We celebrated tonight because tomorrow will be a long work/school day and with homework and all we didn't want to be rushed.
The kids ended the day watching the DVD Coraline...which is scarier than one would think. I'm anticipating nightmares tonight...and several night time visitors.lol
The kids have this friday off again as well. We're planning a trip to the movie theater because New Moon is showing...we figure that must be why they are giving the day off anyway. Otherwise all is well here.
Love you all!

lucky ones...

Hi All,
It feels like it's been forever since I've updated but I guess it's only a week and a few days. Last weekend, Alexa and I took a quick trip to Milan. When Andrea turned 13 we made a big deal of it and took her a few of her friends to see Mamma Mia on the stage and went to a great restaurant for dinner after. Last year when Alexa turned 13 we didn't have that option...and her situation presented different obstacles. So, Nick suggested a trip somewhere. Alexa chose Milan, the fashion capital of the world. This was the first 3 day weekend of the month so it seemed like a good time to make the get away. The Castello Sforzesco

After we went to the Castle we decided to check into our hotel. Unfortunately there was water in the hotel room from the rain and they had to put us up in a hotel down the street. So after a bit of moving around we were able to rest for about an hour before the itch to see more of the city got the best of us. The sun was starting to come out so we ventured back to the Piazza Duomo.

It's a beautiful Gothic cathedral in pictures...in person it's simply breathtaking.

Pictures from the inside...the stained glass windows. Each panel depicts a different biblical story.

Underneath the altar is the remains of Saint Carlos, who was a Cardinal..or Bishop of Milan. It was cool and a little creepy to walk past his glass coffin. The picture of the altar came out incredibly light. The Cathedral is done in the Gothic style so it's very dark. I'm not sure where the light came from to light it as the flash was off, but the picture came out pretty cool.

They used taper candles for the offertory candles. It was the most beautiful candle offertory I've ever seen. I couldn't resist taking a picture.

Another shot of the marble statues on the facade.

From there we took a quick turn into the Galleria, which is a famous shopping center with Prada, Gucci, etc.lol Window shopping was fun.

We got lost coming out of the Galleria...or turned around in the streets.lol But we found ourselves in a Piazza with a statue of Leonardo DaVinci....which is also across from the famous Teatro La Scala opera house. We didn't realize it at the time as it's a non-descript building. We met a friend of mine, Sara who lives near Milan and she told us that they only do tours on Thursday so we missed that one.

After getting lost we found my friend Sara and walked over to the Cenacola church, where Leonardo Davinci's Last Supper is painted. The church itself is a beautiful roman style church.

You can't take pictures of the fresco. It's beautiful, not as vivid as I'd have thought based on the posters I've seen throughout my life. But, still amazing in person. On the opposite wall is a fresco of the crucifixion which is also beautiful but not done by DaVinci. The frescoes are in the dining hall of the rectory. It was commissioned by the Monsignor who ran the church at the time as decoration for their dining hall...can you imagine, eating between those two frescoes, one of the last supper, one of the crucifixion. Humbling....to say the least.
After we left the church we walked back to see the Duomo at night...notice our halos.lol My friend Sara, I met online on the bulletin board for my favorite author. It was an interesting conversation I had with my daughter who reminded me that I wasn't to meet people I met online.lol. But, I'd known Sara for over three years so I felt pretty safe.

And she delighted in showing Alexa all the fashion ins and outs of the city. She truly made our visit memorable!
The weekend we were there the city was celebrating the remembrance of the end of WWI, much like our veterans day. There was a military ceremony in front of the Duomo the next morning, complete with a small military band parade.

Alexa and I spent the day shopping around the city....

We stopped midmorning for a cappuccino. The Waiter brought us out our grande cappuccinos complete with nutella rimmed glasses...warm and toasty and oh, so good.

Then we went back to shopping again. We met Sara again in the afternoon and went to the Brera art gallery where we saw some interesting sculpture and a some beautiful Renaissance paintings. Then Sara walked us around the shopping quarter that we hadn't been to yet. The 4 famous streets for shopping in Milan...and had fun window shopping.
Our last morning was cold and rainy but we still walked to Saint Ambrose's Cathedral to have a look. It's a 4th century church built in the Roman style. We'd just planned to visit quickly but arrived as mass was starting and decided to experience Mass in Italian.

We took one last turn around the Duomo and the Galleria before heading out to the airport. There is a tradition to spin on the bull three times for good luck...

All in all a great weekend for Alexa and I. Nick had the other three. They went to the boat show that was happening in Barcelona that weekend. We got updates via the phone on the boats that they wanted to buy. We're still shopping for that perfect boat.
We are all very blessed.



Our Halloween festivities started on Friday night with the big BFIS party. Joe and Alexa stayed after school to "help set up." So only Andrea, Jessica and I were around for our pre-festivities photos. We'll put a spell on you...

As usual the PTA outdid itself with lots of food, games and a few bouncy things. The highschool students organized a haunted house and the "Slackers", a group of men who are here on sabatical, ran the grill.

Our friends the Kims are leaving tomorrow...this was our last hurrah together. They left for Granada, in the south of Spain, for a few days of exploring. They are moving to San Diego and we're going to miss them.

Saturday morning we went right to work on preparing for our own party on Halloween night. The decorations were hung, food was prepared and the pumpkins were carved...
Nancy and I in the kitchen where I spent most of my time.

Our friends from up the street. They are from Holland and their girls go to school with ours.
More friends....
We also invited our Spanish neighbors from our street. It was great fun. Everyone brought a dish of some sort and we had an overwhelming amount of desserts...
Our smorgasborg of sweets...

Upstairs we set up some games and the Playstation with a few multi player games, down in the basement Andrea and Alexa had set up a dance area. The boys were outside playing flashlight tag.
Nick had a bonfire going ...

We ended the night toasting marshmallows. ... I think we had three courses of sweets...desserts, candy and marshmallows...and we sent the kids home in severe sugar overload...but happy.


Oooh la la..Paris

This fall the kids have quite a few long weekends. Last weekend was a 4 day weekend. Nick needed to be in Paris for work on Thursday so we joined him afterschool on Thursday night for 5 days in Paris. It's cooler in Paris than Barcelona...and more gray. But despite a few showers the weather was perfect for meandering the charming streets of Paris. Our first stop was to the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysees where we were staying.
It was a gray day but the kids and Nick ventured to the top of the Arc for some pictures of the city from above...

We took some side streets toward the Eiffel Tower where Joe spotted some signs for an Aquarium. This was an odd combination of cinema museum and aquarium...we watched some of Spiderman in french and saw some fascinating sea creatures...

We arrived at the Eiffel tower and because it was later in the day than we had hoped we didn't try to get tickets to go up.
We ate lunch on a riverboat on the Seine then took another boat to the Museum D'Orsee

We don't have any pictures of that museum but it's a beautiful museum in an old railway station. It has a huge collection of Impressionist art. I loved looking at all the paintings I'd studied in college, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh's Starry Night, Degas' Dancers...and his sculpture. My Nana had a replica of his dancer sculpture in her house. Looking at the original made me nostalgic...and brought back such happy memories. I could have stayed in the D'Orsee all weekend but the kids could not...so we hopped back on the Batoboat to Notre Dame.

"Sanctuary...." It was fascinating to be so near this historic cathedral. We didn't get a good look at the gargoyles because they are up rather high on the building.
These statues were near the door.

The kids were beat at that point so we packed it in and headed for the hotel. We got the kids some McD's and Nick and I went out to eat at a French Restaurant. It was an adventure trying to decifer the menu and it made me appreciate how far my Spanish has come.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch the train to EuroDisney. Nick and I fully realized we were outnumbered and at times, catering to the troops makes the trip. Plus, I love Disney.

EuroDisney is mostly the same as it's American counterparts, although, the rides are slightly altered. There are some loops in Space Mountain there...and the Thunder Mountain has more dark time and seemed longer to me. They created an Alice In Wonderland walking maze that was pretty cool. And we were so pleased to see the place decorated for Halloween!

The next morning we decided to take another trip out of the city to Versaille...first though we needed nourishment and found it at a Crepe vendor on the Champs Elysees...Yummy ham and cheese crepes to start of the day right.

We waited in line behind some very nice people from Connecticut at the Information center outside the Palace. The line at the Palace seemed to be about 2 hours long. After waiting about 15 minutes they closed the line directly in front of the nice people from Connecticut. They advised us to go to the tour office around the corner where we waited for about another 1/2 hour to get the tickets.
It was worth it.

I think I liked the gardens most of all....

We stopped to have lunch at a small cafe in the gardens. Then went on to see the Triannon...which is another palace on the grounds. I believe Josephine's family lived there...

I know this picture is a bit blurry but I love it...
We went back to Paris and grabbed a quick bite to eat before calling it a night. Monday morning we went to the Louvre. I had read all kinds of advice on how to beat the lines but there weren't any lines and we walked right through security and waited just a few minutes before getting our tickets to see the fabulous artwork. More than the art though the rooms themselves are gorgeous as it was a former palace.

Venus di Milo...gorgeous

We also saw the Winged Victory and a couple of statues from Michaelangelo that he created the same time he did the Moses we saw in St Peters in Chains in Rome. We saw Leonardo DaVinci, Raphael, and more. When we were saturated with art we walked along the Jardin Tuileries and had lunch at a fabulous cafe. Andrea decided to try escargo...and Nick and Jess tried some too. I stayed with my quiche. Then we took the metro to Montmartre and saw the Sacre Cour and walk around the streets to admire street artists.

Nick and I bought a couple of small paintings and the kids bought some souveniers. We went back to the hotel for a much needed break before venturing out to see the Eiffel Tower one last time at night...

Ooh la la....Paris is so romantic....even with kids.