Sunday, October 24, 2010


Um, obviously blogging isn't one of them, but I do have them and while some are perfectly innocuous - my quest for the perfect camel jacket/sweater/anything, Chie Mihara shoes - another is consuming me in a way that I can't explain. It's the dreaded mid-term elections and very specifically the Texas gubernatorial race. If you don't know this about me then you're not on Facebook - I don't believe I've been de-friended by anyone, but I'm pretty sure LOTS of people have "hidden" me. I understand, but in my defense living abroad, currently unemployed and unable to do anything but vote absentee and give a little money to my candidate is supremely frustrating! I have a lot of time on my hands and I just can't stand not being able to be among my people supporting my candidate - Bill White if you haven't guessed - and just getting out there. So instead, I read the news online; I read the blogs; I watch the interviews; I talk about it endlessly and I drive my husband insane. Lucky for him the fun ends Nov. 2. I'll be up all night damnit watching those numbers come in. Fingers crossed. Updates on the children: Brodie has started her Montessori school and really likes it, but complains about all the vegetables in the food. Sabine is in nursery school until 1:oo every day and is starting to adapt. Apparently she used to cry a lot, but that has stopped thank goodness. She strung together her first two words yesterday! "Bye bye, Mama." With this one's willful, independent attitude I have the feeling that she was establishing what will be a lifelong theme. She also got her first hair cut yesterday! Ok, so it's definitely the Javier Bardem "No Country for Old Men" cut, but I prefer to think of it as the Little Lord Fauntleroy. We might try to bring that look back. Photos to come. The image posted here was taken at Parque Guell in Barcelona about 3 weeks ago. Well that's it for now. It's weird, but our zero/end parenthesis key died. So no more parenthesis or smiley face emoticons - because I so love those - only sad faces. :-(

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Don Chepito

I'm very sad to report that my sweet grandfather, Jose Nuila, died Aug. 2 at 12:10 p.m. On the other hand, it gives me great pleasure to report that he lived to be 108. 108! He lived his entire life in San Pedro, El Salvador where he was lovingly cared for by my uncle and his wife for all of his golden years. In his 70s and 80s he used to come to our home in Edinburg and stay with our family for a couple of months. I have very fond memories of us planting a garden together, tinkering on the piano and of him teaching me how to play chess. I think all of the grandchildren have always been mostly in awe of "papauito", a name given to him by my brother and is a cross between "papa" and "abuelito". He lived many lives and was an absolute renaissance man. He wasn't college educated (I'm not even sure he went to high school) but he knew how to play the piano, violin, was a voracious reader (my mother loves to brag that she was taught to read on the classics), the feather-weight boxing champion of El Salvador at one point, a pharmacy owner and of course a single father to his very accomplished and adoring children - and there are lots of children - let's suffice it to say he was indeed a ladies man. Sadly, we can't go to the funeral tomorrow, but my mom says the town is basically being shut town for "the alcalde"'s funeral. Everyone and I mean everyone knows and loves him and is expected to show up at some point to pay their respects. Should I live to be 108, I hope to go surrounded by all my family knowing that I did a great job. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The last two months in bullets.

I'm an erratic blogger, I know. I started with some vigor, but got off track with all the travel we've been doing and uncertainty as to how long we'll stay in Madrid. So many times I've been right in the middle of a moment and I'll think, I need to blog about this, but then I forget. Or I opt to nap instead. Anyway here it is in bullets: 1) We were told about a month ago that we'll be staying in Madrid at least until early spring. If it comes to that, I hope we'll be able to talk them into staying until summer 2011 because we enrolled Brodie into what I hope will be just the right school for her. It's called Madrid Montessori and we have very high hopes. It won't be easy getting there and back as it involves a bus ride, with a stroller and then some walking. That's not even factoring weather, but we think it's worth it. 2) I've done something to my wrist (maybe ligaments) that prevents me from doing yoga or heavy lifting. After about 3 weeks of this, I'm getting really cranky and soft and turning to food for comfort. I'm not joking - I JUST ate TWO croissants. Giant ones. 3) The summer sales have it! It's great! 4) Since May and not counting the Baltic cruise, we've traveled to Asturias and the Sierras, this weekend we're going to the beach near Valencia and next weekend we're going to the Pyrenees Mountains with some friends. It's so amazingly hot here, it really is best to get out of the city when possible. 5) I'm going home to McAllen on Aug. 12th! I can't wait to be in my home where I was raised and spend time with my mom and my girls!!! I look forward to: a good haircut, eating proper Mexican food, grilling on the patio, eating proper barbecue, sleeping in turbo air-conditioning, driving, and shopping at Target. That's it for now.

Monday, May 31, 2010

My weekend as a single parent

This past weekend Kyle joined some friends in Berlin and I stayed home with the girls. I knew it was going to be tough (3 days of full-time entertainment, meals, bath and bedtime), but I also knew/thought I'd have back up from our nanny who lives downstairs. Friday was Brodie's school carnival so I made cupcakes to contribute to the bake sale and then we headed over and spent 5 hours and 50 euros. It really was cute and it was nice to spend time with some of the other parents. Touria was very helpful that day and helped me bathe and put down the girls. The next day started early because Sabine has now decided that anytime between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. is her wake up time. Of course Saturday it was 5:30! Around noon we headed over to the Madrid zoo with my friend Ann Louise and her two girls. Oh boy. I've felt conflicted about zoos for a long time. There's nothing worse than visiting a sad zoo and I have to say the Madrid zoo is sad, sad, sad. The sadness sets in when you shell out the 35 euros for you and your under 8 child. I guess that's about $42. Anyway, it became clear right away that this was not going to be a habitat-sensitive zoo. First of all, there's concrete everywhere and the animals all seem to live within and on top of that concrete. Most of the "exhibits" only had one lone species representative, which of course makes them look even sadder. Also, zoo patrons were feeding the animals chips, nuts, etc. to get a closer look and nobody seemed to care! At the little goat petting zoo, you could buy food to feed them, but they were so obese looking I ended up throwing away the pellets we had just bought because it felt wrong. Finally, at one point we walked by a deserted "habitat" that was filled with green foam. Oh wait, that wasn't green foam, it was stagnant water that had a layer of algae so thick that a plastic bottle was floating on top and the lone duck that swam on/through it left a visible trail. So needless to say the zoo was a huge disappointment to me (really, it seemed almost third world!), but I kept my mouth shut and let Brodie enjoy it. I'll add that the dolphin show was quite nice as was the company so there's that. We arrived home around 8:00 p.m. and had dinner (skipped bath) and Sabine went right down. I was supposed to meet up with a girlfriend but Touria had a stomach flu and was unable to help Sat. or Sun. Ack! So I ended up staying home and reading "The Help" which I'm enjoying very much. Sunday morning we met up with Ann Louise and her family again, had coffee and took the girls to do crafts in our plaza. During the summer, the city sets up a little kids fair every Sat. evening and Sun. morning right in our plaza! I'm sad to report that Ann Louise and her family are moving back to Denmark at the end of the month. She is one of my closest friends here and our girls are close in age and get along great. I'm going to be so sad when she leaves and am trying not to think about it at the moment. Anyway, the rest of Sunday was spent walking around, watching movies and at the park in the late afternoon. Kyle walked in the door around 8:00 p.m. and we were all very happy to have him home.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More about the weather

What's that sound I hear? Oh right, it's absolute quiet and it's deafening, I must say. The last two weeks have been filled with lovely visitors, quick trips, small ailments and lice. Yes, LICE. Or as they're called in Spanish - "piojos". Not to be confused with "pijo" which means snob. Anyway, Laura and Emma were here for almost a week and we had such a great time. Brodie and Emma reunited as though only a week had passed since their last visit and for the most part played nicely. Laura had no agenda other than to experience Madrid as a local might. No rushing off to every museum and sight, but rather lots of strolling, passive sight-seeing and of course, eating and drinking! Once temperatures rise the slightest bit, it seems that every Madrileno switches their drink of choice to the tinto verano. It's a simple combination of decent red wine mixed with either Fanta Limon or fizzy water with a slice of lemon over ice. I love the ice here - everywhere you go it's shaped the same - really big cylindrical cubes so that you only need one or two in a small glass. I believe Laura is already serving those up in Austin. Weather: If it seems like all I do is blog about the weather, that's because it's the only thing any one here can talk about. On top of being the coldest winter anyone under 50 can remember, it's also been loooooong. I wore a coat and boots ALL of last week. In fact, it sleeted last Thursday. Luckily, Kyle and I escaped this because he surprised me with an overnight trip to La Granja just outside of Segovia to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. I admit that when he mentioned we were going to a little mountain town, my heart sank a little. The last thing I wanted was to be in even colder weather, but I'm glad I kept my absurdly ungrateful thoughts to myself because once we arrived at the hotel I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness (and luxury) of it all. The hotel was stunning and as soon as we walked into the room, Kyle shared with me that the only thing I had to do that day was show up to my 4:00 massage. That's when the sobbing started - in short, I just felt very grateful to be married to Kyle. The 36 hours alone were fantastic, but somehow I still couldn't let go of the fact that I had a child with a cough and head lice waiting for me at home. I'll back up a bit. The night before we left, Brodie started scratching her head incessantly. Because I'd received no less than five notes from school about a lice problem, I knew what we were facing. After lots of inspection, I discovered them. I won't go into detail because I'm already itching just thinking about it, but needless to say it was tough to leave her and Sabine. Still, I'm glad we did because they both survived just fine and Kyle and I experienced what will always be one of my favorite memories. I also think it's good for the girls to see us as a loving couple separate from being parents. Maybe? Does that sound right? Excuses, possibly. Anyway, back to the weather. At last the weather is above 65 and we're finally experiencing some of the Madrileno lifestyle we were promised! This morning Sabine and I took our breakfast and coffee outside at one of the cafes and I read my kindle. Love, love, love the kindle, by the way. Classics are free!! It's going to be a Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy summer over here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 1 - Labor Day

Today, Saturday, is Spain's national labor day. Did I mention it's Saturday? If I were employed I'd feel totally ripped off about having the day off on SATURDAY. Maybe they should look into the whole holiday observance thing. Granted, the Spanish don't have much to complain about when it comes to paid holidays off. It's crazy how much time the Spanish have off to observe all kind of religious, national and regional holidays. I think in total it adds up to 44 paid days off a year including 22 holidays and 22 vacation days. By American standards, that's a lot time off. Also of note, Sunday happens to be mother's day in Spain. The fun never ends! This blog entry is already sounding crankier than I planned, but only because I've been up since 6 and didn't go to bed until 1:30 so that I could watch all of The Aviator. Anyway, May is going to be jam-packed with celebrations and visitors. In addition to this weekend's holidays, Monday is Kyle's 35th birthday, on Tuesday Laura and Emma arrive for one week, we have tickets to see Rufus Wainwright and that same day Kyle leaves to some island in the middle of the Atlantic for two nights (it's tiny and I can't remember the name), Kevin K. visits at the end of the month, and June 3rd we leave for two weeks on a Baltic cruise. I'm looking forward to all of it and I can't believe I'm already planning for June. We've been here a little over six months and it's almost 100 percent confirmed that we'll be returning to the States after one year. Only six months left? Where did the time go??? I can honestly say that I'll be sad to leave Madrid and would prefer to stay a little bit longer, but I guess that just means that we have to really pack everything in - no time to waste. Last week we were in Fuerteventura for five nights and I'm so, so glad we went. I feel confident that the Canary Islands is not a place we would ever have been able to visit were we not living here. Updates on that trip to come!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Too much time has passed since my last update but it doesn't feel like a whole lot has happened. The thing about not having a traditional job (read: being a full-time stay-at-home mom) is that your days are all kind of the same and start to feel like one, long-ass day. Last week, though, I had the great pleasure of spending two nights in Barcelona visiting with my girlfriend Cile from Austin! She and her mom stayed in the swanky hotel off Las Ramblas, and I stayed at the much less swanky but still chic Hotel Banys in El Borne. I had the best mini-break ever! It was so nice to be with old friends and oh so nice to sleep through the night without the slightest anticipation of being awakened by a baby's cry - thanks Ambien! I was shocked to learn that my orientation of El Borne and El Raval was still good and was happy to take Cile to some of my favorite old spots. On the food front, Cile and her mom introduced me to what is now one of my favorite restaurants ever - Bar Lobo. Cile and I ate there 2 times, which put her tally up to 3! It was that good. I didn't have a bad meal my entire stay, even the cafe we happened on was delicious. Sorry Madrid, but when it comes to dining I think Barcelona has you beat, way beat. Still you're lovely and I think Madrilenos are a tad bit friendlier. Cile and I returned to Madrid on the AVE (high speed train) where I slept so as to not think about the slight case of motion sickness I was experiencing. While Cile was here we had mostly nice weather days, but because of Holy Week, Friday was a complete loss with regard to shopping as almost nothing was open so we did a lot of strolling and sitting in the park. Saturday we visited the Thyssen, which had a huge Monet exhibit and took it super easy after feasting on a huge plate of NACHOS! The parade of visitors has begun and we're so happy! Next week our friends and newlyweds Jeff and Rachel will visit and stay with us one night. Then we leave to the Canary Islands for five nights - yay sun! In early May, Laura and Emma arrive and then in late May, Kevin arrives! It's so nice to have friends visit -hint, hint. In short, everyone's well - we did have one more visit to the emergency room with Sabine - but she's fine now and I think more than anything we're just anxious for the weather to turn hot. Not cool, not warm, HOT. It's April 9th and we're still wearing sweaters and boots. Boo.