St Jordi Day Celebration

St Jordi's day is Spain's Valentines day...sort of wrapped up with a big dose of Catalan pride as well. St. Jordi is the patrion saint of Catalunya. Legend has it that there was a very very bad dragon that destroyed all the farms and houses of the village. An agreement was made between the king and this dragon: every year the king will give the dragon a maiden so he will leave them in peace. This girl was chosen by lot. One year the princess was the chosen and she was taken to the dragon's cave. But Sant Jordi arrived, killed the dragon and the dragon’s blood drops turned into roses. Sant Jordi took one rose and offered it to the princess. This is the reason for the tradition of giving roses to one's Love on St. Jordi's day. Some centuries later, a very smart bookseller decided that in honor of the fact that Shakespear and Miguel de Cervantes (a spanish author) died on this day, and it's world reading day...that men should receive books. So everywhere in Barcelona and I'm sure all of Catalunya, the streets are lined with vendors selling roses and books. It's really quite romantic.
The school hosts a small celebration. The kids all learn folk dances and put on a show. There are awards given out for art and poetry from their Catalan studies classes. The PTA grilled up Butafaya (sausage) with Pan amb tomaquet and had their own little book store and rose table.

The courtyard waiting to begin. Notice the mural draped in the back of St Jordi slaying the dragon...and the Catalan flag in front of the table. close up of the mural done by 11th graders.

I'm not sure if you can pick her out. But, Jess is in the corner with her headband on. It was one hot day...reached about 86 degrees.
A better pic of Jess, who had taken off her shirt at this point....it was put back on promptly.

The pre-k classes...poor guys were under those costumes right in the sun. They were dressed as princes and knights.

and one dragon....

They kindergarten class did the presentation of the roses and books...or
El llibre i la rosa

Here one princess would great one or two princes and exchange books and roses.

The first graders were dressed in traditional white with red sashes...and for some reason no one can figure out..white wigs. They were cute and did the Sardana, a traditional folk dance, to an Abba song. I have it video'd but for some reason it's not uploading.

The 3rd grade in similar costumes with red and yellow wigs for the colors of the Catalan flag.

The 2nd graders were a big hit and did a dance to Mamma Mia

part of the 2nd grade presentation was lighting these smokers...I don't know what they are called they looked like firecrackers but gave off smoke that changed colors.

Jess's grade came out and did St. Jordi Ludic....no idea what that might mean except they did some traditional catalan games....
Jess was doing something with a group of girls that resembled chinese jump rope.
Then they did another folk dance...toc de festa, which I also filmed but also won't upload.

Here is the 6th grade's folk dance, Ball de festeig. Joe was home sick this day. Alexa had been home all week with a bad stomach bug and he had convinced me that he was coming down with it...turns out he had nowannafolkdancitis.

The older kids doing a dance, Farandola Provencal

And another group of high schoolers doing a dance with sticks, Ball de Bastons.

All in all it was a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate Catalan culture. I had to go back to school to pick up Andrea after her drama meeting. On the way home at the toll booth the attendant gave me two roses. One for Andrea and one for me. How can you not love a country that gives out roses at their toll booths?


Pictures from Alexa's birthday weekend

Saturday morning we went to the movies to celebrate Alexa's birthday. We had a rental car because we had a bit of car trouble. Because Alexa had a friend who came a long with us we were extra squished on the way to the train station... We saw Monsters vs. Aliens. It was cute. Unfortunately for us, none of the movies we really wanted to see were available in original soundtrack. We're keeping an eye open for Race to Witch Mountain. Keep your fingers crossed for us.lol After the movie we took a short walk to the beach...
Alexa at 13

the kids hunting for sea glass


Andrea sits this one out with Dad...
This would have been an awesome pic if it was in focus...

Part of our treasure

Alexa has been home since I picked her up from school on Monday. She has a stomach bug. Poor thing. I'm hoping the rest of the kids don't get it.
Love to all!


Happy Birthday Alexa

13 years ago tonight I sat holding the tiniest baby I'd ever seen...with the biggest nose.lol Alexa was born 5 lbs and 6 ounces...she was such a little peanut. We had to buy preemie clothes for her and she swam in the diapers. I remember when she was a few months old remarking to my Mom to watch Alexa as I held her. Her eyes followed Andrea around to see what was happening. You could tell even then she was a thinker. We knew we were in trouble early on with her when she successfully argued with her father when he reminded her that we don't eat chocolate for breakfast and she responded with, "You let us eat coco-puffs". Nick gave her the chocolate. When I wasn't looking she would mix toothpaste and shampoo together in the bathroom. "I wanted to see what would happen." Mom's going to get mad, that's what's going to happen. Of course, it wasn't her brightest moment when she stuck peas up her nose and spent the night in the ER while the docs fished it out....twice. Or mine when I had to call poison control for the 4th time because she drank the bottle of infant tylenol I'd left out for Jess's teething, again. And just as the woman on the phone at poison control reassured me, she survived. She always craved attention, She developed her middle child syndrom early. I remember taking her at the age of 4 to see Princess Diaries in the theater and the part where Mia is lamenting about how she isn't enough of a geek let's stick a tiarra on top of it. Alexa stood up on her seat and whispered in my ear, "If I just found out I was a princess, I would *not* be complaining" No, not my Alexa, not at all . Alexa is planning on taking over the world, fair warning to everyone. She knows how to turn things to her advantage, when she was 3 she went trick or treating with her siblings...went to the same houses, and ended up with twice as much candy. She would tell people who tried to hand out reese's peanut butter cups that she was allergic and they'd scoop up handfuls of other candy and throw it in her pail. She has plans to be Secretary of State and who knows what after that. Sometime's I think she has always been an old soul and other times she acts very much her age...and younger. I don't know why but this birthday seems to be a hard one for me. It was for Andrea and is for Alexa too. They aren't little girls anymore. Not quite women either...and it's that nether world of teen hood we have to navigate together. I know she'll make it through the other side...I'm not certain I will. Teenagers seem to test my patience in ways I never imagined. I'm just glad I get to go along for the ride to see where she ends up.



Easter seemed to come so quickly this year. Here are a few of the highlights of the day. Checking out the Easter Baskets in the morning.
Putting stickers on the eggs to decorate them. I couldn't find white eggs so, we had to make do with what we had.

The kids had off on Monday. Here is Spain it's called Dia de Mono...which roughly translated means day of the cute...or monkey. But it's the day the kids get to eat the chocolate creations given to them by their godparents. All through the past month chocolate creations have been springing up in bakeries everywhere. These are elaborate chocolate figures on top of short flat "cakes." I'm not positive there is any actual cake there but more of a platform to put on more and more chocolate. There are a lot of themed cakes from disney characters to folk tales and some can cost as much as 350 euroes. The kids had requested an Easter egg hunt with their friends so we organized a small gathering of 16 kids from 7 families. We hid 67 eggs. All were found...eventually. We were lucky because after a weekend of rain the sun came out and it was a beautiful day.

Alexa , Karina and Jackie after the hunt...

The chocolate creation I settled for....

After everyone left we gathered for a game of croquet...

Even Rascal and Mischief got into the act...

The kids are all back at school, and Nick is at work. The house is quiet...
I hope you all had a fabulous Easter.
Love to all


Beauty in Barcelona...

We woke up on Sunday morning to another sunny day. Bev and I had gone out after we returned home from Tibidabo the night before in search of Palms for mass. I'd been told that you had to purchase the palms for blessing. And I'd seen them everywhere before Bev and Nicole arrived. They were twisted into fabulous arrays and some were really tall. I had thought we'd have time to have the kids pick some out themselves but time got away from us. By the time we made it to the store there was one Palm left. So, it seemed preordained that this was to be our palm. I finally found the church where the English mass is held. Maria Reina church in Pedrables.
The church itself was beautiful and I'm sure has some history to it although I'm not sure how old it is. They had the stairs at the entrance set up to do the blessing of the palms outside. From here we processed inside. They had all sorts of branches on the side that we could use instead of palms. It was really quite lovely.

Alexa found a regular palm and one of the parishners showed the kids how to make crosses out of them. Alexa figured out a way to have Jesus on her cross.

After Mass, we decided to go back into Barcelona. Only Alexa joined Beverly, Nicole and I as we explored the Barri Gottic, walked the roman ruins, toured a medieval church( Maria del Mar) and then on to the water front...

The next day Nick had to work so we took all the kids to Park Guell.

Joe met up with his friend the samuri..

We took the train back into Barcelona and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Then since we were still feeling adventurous took a stroll up Passieg de Gracia.

The next day it rained all day. And the kids were pretty worn out from all the walking the day before so we took it easy. Later in the afternoon we went to the mall and did a little window shopping.
Wednesday morning it was still pretty gloomy and we had hoped to get to Montserrat to the monastary. We decided to take a chance on the wet weather, since what we really wanted to do was to hear the boys choir and see the statue of Mary. I'm so glad we went because despite the clouds above us, we had the most amazing views. I swear we could see for miles and miles.

You can't see it in the picture in the distance behind the girls you could actually see the antenae from Tibidabo. It was absolutely breathtaking to realize we could see that far.

In the other direction were snowcapped mountains.
We really enjoyed the choir. The acoustics in the church are so beautiful. My friend Drea was waiting for results on her bloodwork to see if the chemo was working so we all prayed for her...and for Beverly to sell the house. Joe came home and wrote on his facebook page that he was waiting for something amazing to happen since he'd touched the statue's hand. Shortly after I received word that indeed Drea's chemo is working, her lab work came back improved! She still has a long way to go but we're happy for this bit of good news.
On the way home from the Monastary we stopped in Sant Cugat to show them around.

On Thursday we were thinking about going down to Tarragona but decided that it'd be better to stay closer to home. We took the kids to Poble Espanyol. It's a touristy place that showcases different Spanish architecture and craftsmen. There were shops and restaurants throughout. Plus, they have a scavenger hunt game that kept the kids occupied and happy.
Examining the clues...

Jess found a clue...

Watching the guys blow glass...
Another clue...
The view from Poble Espanyol of the city.

Taking a break...

On one of the streets there were these posts with figures on top. I think about 6 or 7 of them lined the walkway. Each post had a different figure.

These are two people holding up theater masks...oh the drama.

Jess with a clue....my sunshine..

The kids at the end of the hunt!!

We still hadn't gone to the Mediterranean Sea yet. So, we hopped back on the metro to Port Olympic where we stepped on to the beach to dip our toes in the Sea.

Getting ready to pose for a picture

Everyone on the beach...

On Friday, the only place left on Beverly's to visit list was the Palau de Musica, a theater built in 1908 for a Catalan Choir's use. It is a Modernista masterpiece. Unfortunately, there are no pictures allowed in the building but the outside is just as ornate. The pictures don't do it justice though because it was a gray day.

The entranceway...um, don't know this couple but I do like the facade of the poles...

Here is a statue of St Jordi, patron saint of Catalonia...and prominent figure in a lot of Modernista buildings.

Beverly, Andrea and Nicole near a tiled column

Bev and Nicole

Nicole, Me and Andrea

the side of the building.

a closer look at the columns above.
and another group of columns

Nicole and Andrea as we walked through an outdoor market. This was outside a medieval church, Marie del Pei, I think.

We walked all through Barcelona over the past week and enjoyed the company very much! I can't believe how quickly the week went by us.

Easter is tomorrow...and I will end with the Easter greeting my father used to say to us early Easter morning...Chrystos Voskres. (Christ is risen)
And the traditional response is ...Voistyno Voskres (indeed he has risen)
May the peace and joy of God's love be with you this Easter morning!
Love you all