One of the things I love about Spain are the Castellers. These are groups of people who make human towers. It's amazing to see them standing on each others shoulders, the power in numbers and the bravery of one small kid who climbs to the top, waves and then they all climb down. The last time we were at Tibidabo, actually the church that is on the top of the mountain there was a small competition of Castellers. 

My sister in law and I were up on the balcony of the church when we heard the announcements and went to observe. Below is the group in gray shirts building their tower. The matching shirts show that they all belong to the same group. Before they started it was announced that the smallest kid who climbs to the top was making his first public climb.

starting off...the large group at the bottom and the first circle on top

They climb up, getting a foothold in the large black belts that are meticulously woven around each casteller before they start. It usually takes at least one other person to get this right.

second tier is added.
Now I want you to pay attention to the circle at the bottom. In order for the tower to build up, support is needed at the bottom. You need a lot of support to keep those people high up. What started as a group of gray shirts has grown to include all the colors. At times, at large public competitions even the crowd is encouraged to participate.

Now the final part of the tower is added, sort of a bridge over the top two. You can see the small climber going up on the left.

he/she waves quickly and heads back down

Then, as carefully as they climb up, they climb down. This is when I have seen towers crumble. It's always scary watching people fall off, however, I've never seen anyone hurt. People are always caught. You will notice that the youngest ones at the top all wear helmets, though. It is not without risk.

climbing down

Because it was this castellers first climb they gave him/her a special tribute as they stood and waved on the way down and received an ovation.

first timer
I love the beauty of these towers. I love the lessons we can learn for them. The importance of preparing together in getting the belt right. The need for broad support if you want to climb high...what a great metaphor for building a person. It truly takes a village. That in the end the safety and success of each team is more important than the competition. And that there is always someone there to catch you when you fall.  It really is an amazing thing to watch.


And the years go flying by...

 I used to say when the kids were little that the days lasted forever but the months flew by. Now it seems like years are passing us at the speed of light. It doesn't seem like it's possible that it has been 16 years since this picture was taken...my little peanut. Born 5 pounds and 6 ounces...the tiniest thing I had ever seen...we had to fold over the newborn diapers to fit. She went home in preemie clothes

 But 16 years have passed. And last Saturday night we partied in style.  Here is Alexa getting ready with her friends who flew in from Massachusetts to spend the week with her.

Joe looking good...
Alexa and her cake
family who came for the special night

the room
Younger siblings with their best friends
Me and Alexa
We ate upstairs in a room that looked out over all of Barcelona. Then, we went down to the Disco for the dancing.
The evening was a great success. A good time was had by all. And my little peanut felt like a princess for the night. What more could we want.
waiting for taxis


Lord, what fools these mortals be....

We are blessed with 4 very dramatic, expressive kids. Once a year it is my absolute pleasure to share them with the world when the school presents their annual production. This year, with a new director, Mr Torbush, they worked on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mr Torbush added some fabulous touches to the show by choosing Clockwork Orange type costumes and adding contemporary musical numbers. It was just the thing to get everyone interested in learning Shakespeare's English...which was basically a second language for everyone. Andrea was cast as the King Thesius...why my beautiful daughter is forever cast as men I will never know. Alexa was cast as the king's servant, which we all find exceedingly hysterical. Joseph, with his natural gift for comedic timing was Bottom and Jessica was Peas Blossom, the fairy who eats.(Maybe he was sending her a message that she needed to eat more?) After several months of practice it came down to the last week of practice. Doesn't it always...when on Monday I watched shaking my head and on Friday I couldn't have been more proud of the job they all did. What a difference a week makes...and an audience!

They had three shows. One Friday night and 2 on Saturday.
 Below is Alexa before the Matinee on Saturday with her makeup on.
 Andrea onstage with Mr Santos, the school Principal who was the angry father.

 Joe as Bottom, who was reading his script when Puck, played by our good friend Annie, whom he can't see took the book from his hands.
 Joe having been turned into an Ass, being adored by the fairies...

 Above: Jess sleeping on stage. (she had come to me after the Matinee and said she didn't feel well. I could tell right away she had a fever. We went home, I gave her ibuprofen and sent her to sleep for an hour. It was just a fever, no other unpleasant symptoms. I told her it was ok if I went back and told them she was too sick to go on. She had already had two shows. Her part could be skipped or given to another fairy. And she looked at me and said, "Serious actors go on even when they are sick. And I want to be a serious actor so..." and we went with the understanding that if at any time she felt worse she was to bow out. And she performed fabulously.

 Above: Andrea and Alexa discussing which evening entertainment to pick

Below Left: Alexa signaling the arrival of the theater troupe. Below Right: Joseph breaking character to explain to the King that his curse was a cue for the actress to enter.

Dancing to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, which really seemed to fit the play within the play.

They all had a great time. I surely was the proudest Mom there with all 4 kids in the play. But I was just as proud of the kids who were not mine. It was not easy to learn all those old English phrases and speak them with feeling so the audience knows what you are saying. And they performed this all in the library, where we had continuous technical difficulties because the lighting system kept shorting out the fuse. Hopefully next year we'll get a theater...there is some talk about some renovations needing to be made on one that comes with our new property. (keeping fingers and toes crossed that this happens.) But that is for another time. The kids never faltered, remembered their lines and delivered three fabulous shows. And , the curtain closes for another year. Rumors have it that we'll  be doing Little Shop of Horrors...stay tuned to see what actually happens.