and away we go...

The kids had a long weekend for the La Merce Festival in Barcelona. It's a holiday only in the city of Barcelona so we decided to take advantage of the good weather and lack of crowds to explore the Costa Brava. We stayed in a town called L'Escala. L'Escala is a coastal town that grows from a population of 5,000 to 50,000 every August.
We spent our first night walking near the beach and port. There was a promenade on our end of town with several restaurants. We of course, being the adventurous sort, chose Burger King for our first meal.
The next morning we set off to find the coastal path from L'Escala to Empuries. Empuries is an beach town with ruins from the Roman and Greek civilizations who colonized the land. Empuries was the Roman and Greek port for the entire Iberian Peninsula. The path leads along rocky cliffs, coves and beaches. We hadn't made it to the path when Rascal lost his ball in the rocks. Joseph decided to try his hand at spelunking...to no avail. We couldn't find the ball anywhere. We did retrieve a large kickball though, that we decided was a satisfactory replacement.
Along the way we saw a lot of fishing beaches, coves and cliffs that over look the sea.

We found the wall that was built to protect the port.

And the Greek Pier.

We enjoyed a nice lunch in the medieval section of the town. The cobblestone streets and small alleyways between the houses really made it seem as if we were stepping back in time. We found a restaurant that didn't mind that we brought the dogs with us. They even brought them water dishes and extra plates for us to put our scraps on.
Walking back we found this lovely cove...and the kids climbed down to get a closer look. Joe found that inside the cave was purple-ish rocks with the light reflecting on it. He wanted the camera to take a picture but it was too slippery and wet to chance it. Jess told him it was "just going to have to be a memory".

Nick and his pups.

Andrea on the edge...

The next day, Nick took the three youngest to try their hands at go-karting. Andrea had a head cold and wanted to relax. She opted out of our trip to Empuries also, staying home with the puppies. Nick took Joe and Jessica to the beach and Alexa and I went off to explore the ruins.
This is the most important archeological site in all of Spain. It was founded in 6th century BC by the Greeks and known as "Emporion" which means the market. In the 2nd century BC the Romans arrived to fight the Carthaginians and built on the existing town. The Roman ruins were built up on a hill from the Greek ruins.

Alexa and I were particularly impressed with the amount of intact flooring that these Roman ruins possessed.

The Greek ruins were very deep, almost like the houses were built below street level.

The statue outside is a replica of the one that sits in the museum. You can get much closer in the museum...it's very impressive. It is thought to be a god of healing but they are not certain.

We spent another relaxing hour on the beach before getting lunch and returning to Andrea. Then we all went out to get dinner on the promenade overlooking the beach.
Saturday morning we had a cruise up the coast. It was cool and foggy when we started out.

The kids really enjoyed standing on the front of the nearly empty ship as the waves sent water spraying up on to the sides of the deck.

On the bottom of the boat was two small rooms that had glass sides for us to see the bottom of the coves when the boat slowed down.

But it was hard to stay below when the sights you got to see on deck were these...

The Lighthouse at the End of the World is a book that was made into a movie. This is the lighthouse the book features.

We stopped for a few moments to swim in one of the coves.

The afternoon we went and collected the puppies and drove the short distance to Figueres. We went to the Museo-teatro Dali....Salvadore Dali's museum. I'm not a big fan of Surealistic art but the kids found it very interesteing... Here was some of our favorites.
The Bay of Cadeques

part of the ceiling...
What I think of as typical modernista art in Catlunya....the picture doesn't do it justice.
Because we had the dogs with us we split up into two groups. While Nick had the J's in the museum, Andrea, Alexa and I walked around the town. There was an old cathedral, St. Pietro de Figueres. A choir was singing...there is something so magical about these old cathedrals when they are filled with music.

Our last morning Nick took all 4 of the kids to the go-karts while I finished packing up. We headed home a happy kind of tired. We're looking into getting back up again soon.

Love you all



Weekend goings on...

The kids had a three day weekend. Friday was La Diada...a sort of Memorial Day when the Catalans commemorate when they lost the civil war to the Spaniards. Odd, but there you go. Lots of yellow and red striped flags adorn businesses, cars, apartment windows and villas. It's a big day for them. So, no school on Friday. Andrea went to a friends house half way through the day and Nick and I packed up the kids to join the Hellenders for an afternoon on the beach. We left at 4 pm. I love that about Barcelona. It was still sunny enough and warm enough to enjoy the next 3 hours at the beach. We headed home to clean up and then rejoined the Hellenders at our new favorite restaurant, La Bollera. It's located in an old bowling alley. Mostly they serve grilled meat and vegetables but it's consistent and easy. Most importantly, the kids all enjoy it.

Saturday came bright and early. The girls were out of some toiletries so we decided to head to the mall/Eroski to get some quick shopping done. Apparently the day after La Diada is like the day before Thanksgiving in the US. We waited about 40 minutes in line to buy our things. We were waiting in the candy/cookie aisle...so not the place you want to be for 40 minutes because suddenly LOTS of things seem like a good idea to purchase. We eventually made it out and the family decided to head to Natupark. That's the place where we were all hooked up to climbing aparati and manuevered through ropes, ladders and suspension bridges up in the trees. It was great fun. After challenging ourselves on the courses for three hours Andrea made Chicken parmigiana for us for dinner. Alexa made chocolate covered banana slices for dessert.

Sunday we made it back to church for the second week in a row. We met some people visiting the city for the week from LA. They were on their way home the next day and said they really enjoyed their time in BCN. The kids enjoy going to this church because it is beautiful and old...and ok really because they have coffee and cookies after. (grin) Food motivates my kids every time. I'm looking to get the kids Confirmed this year. So if one of them asks you to be their sponser...just think, what a great excuse to come visit the city.

And we're back at school this week. I started my Spanish class today. I hope it gets easier because half the time my brain couldn't keep up with the rest of the class. And I'm back in pottery class. I've finished a bowl already and am working on a pitcher. I'll post pics when I can.

No pics this week...the camera needed re-charging. Hope to get some soon.
Love you all

Serene Spain

Hi everyone,
I forgot to say in our last post that one a few weeks ago we were in Sant Cugat for dinner. The old Monastari is in the center of town there. We walk past it to get the kids ice cream/gelato. That particular night the doors were open. It's the first time I've ever seen the doors open. It was a beautiful clear night with a soft breeze blowing. The kids had their ice cream but we couldn't resist the pull of the light shining from inside. As we got closer to the doors we could hear the voices of a choir singing beautiful choral music. The inside is much like that of Santa Maria de Mar, in the Borne district....high stone ceilings with alcoves dedicated to saints around the side...and stained glass windows at the top interupting with bright bursts of color on the surrounding pale stone. Old worn wooden pews were in lines before the altar...and up on the altar was about 50 people in gowns singing. It was a good night to be in Sant Cugat...a good night to be in Spain. Moments like this make all the craziness worth while.
Much love and hugs,


Long time no update

Hola Amigos y mis Familia,

And we're back...It was a fabulous summer with family and friends. Our last three weeks in Massachusetts flew by very quickly. It seems it's always bittersweet and chaotic, dispite or because of my best efforts to plan it differently. So many people to see, places to shop and things to catch up on. There is never enough time to do all we want. There are always things on our to do list that didn't get done. But, such is life and it's a blessing that it's the things in the "want to do" colume that are remaining not the "have to do." We had a fabulous fun-filled time and got to see a lot of family, had a quick trip to Newport RI, managed to get some house repairs done and the car inspected too. We're looking forward to the next time home to knock off some more of those "things to do".
The kids started school last week. We bounced right back into things with New Family Orientation the day after we flew home. It was a great way to get back into the swing of things quickly. Andrea and Alexa had signed up to be Buddies to some of the new Middle/highschool students. Alexa was pleased to find that her buddy wasn't into being "cliquey" and Andrea was dissapointed to find that her buddy was one of the snob's best friends. The snob being the girl who spent a day at the school last year and announced that Andrea and her friends weren't cool enough to hang out with...who is also on the soccer team at Maddox sports ...which resulted in Andrea saying, "um, no" to the option to play for *that* team. (sigh). Alexa had a great time bopping around the school with her new friends. Joe (who had contracted some odd rash) was off with some of his friends who'd shown up for their buddies. And Jessica was playing hostess to someone I had introduced to her because after speaking to her Mom at the PTA table we found they were in the same class. All the PTA officers are my friends so I attached myself to that table to offer words of welcome to new families.
It is hard to believe we've been here for a year already. And it was refreshing to look into the eyes of the new parents and recognizing that look of hopeful optimism mixed with a healthy dose of "what the heck did I get myself into." The great thing about our school though is always there is someone to pull you through the "bad Spain days." When I look in the mirror now, that shocked look is gone. There is still bad Spain days...but it's easier to handle now. My expectations are adjusted...and my network for resources has expanded. It really feels good to know, we're not the new ones anymore.
Speaking of new ones. (grin) Whilst manning the PTA table and sharing my SIL's story of the arrival of Junah (another fabulous new arrival) I was at the point in the story where Kim was watching Project Runway, when my friend Nancy grabbed my shoulder and said, "That's where I know her from. She's was on one of the design shows." I don't know design shows. Reality tv for me begins and ends with TopChef. So, I say, "Who?" And Nancy points out the woman at the Spanish lessons table talking to Jorge. I look over and don't recognize her. Nancy can't figure out her name so I continue with the story of Junah. When I finished she was still mumbling about not remembering her name. So, I asked, "Are you sure it's her?" Because sometimes when you think it's someone and it's really not, your brain can't make the connection. And Nancy said, "Yes, because 'blah blah blah' (I'm paraphrasing cause it's not all that important) and she is married to Ricky Schroeder." At which point I grab *her* shoulder."The Ricky Schroeder?" and she says, "Yes, he was standing at the table." I didn't even pay attention to any guys there. I thought we were trying to figure out who the woman was. And sure enough...there was Ricky Schroeder...sending his kids to my kids school.
He was at my Spanish level test we took on Monday, although I didn't get a chance to talk to him, even though he and his wife sat right across from me. And he was at the PTA meeting but, no luck there either. They both seem really down to earth and nice. Everyone who has talked to them has commented on that.
We went back to the Catholic Church we found for Palm Sunday Mass. It is such a beautiful old church. There were lots of families there from school. And I'm trying to work on getting the oldest three confirmed this year. Wish me luck on that.
We have several new families that live near us. One family from Holland lives up the street. They have a daughter in Jess's class. It seems like it's the year of the 5th grade girls...as they are an especially tight knit group.
And just last weekend our street had a small block party. We thought it had been canceled since we hadn't heard anything all day but when we came back from dinner everyone was outside. We shared our desserts with everyone. The kids got to play with the neighbor kids and we all tried to speak to one another. It was fabulous... and completely unheard of by the rest of the exPat community here. They're all jealous because we've got the best neighbors in Spain.
If you're still with me thanks for reading! This post was long on words and short on pics. So, here are the two first day of school pics and a few from Massachusetts.

Hasta Luego todos!
Te Amo!