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!