Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Madrid-The Royal Palace

....I wouldn't EVEN know what to do with myself if I were royalty and this was my house...very cool. My favorite room was the throne room, Jason's was the chapel and the boys liked the armory...
Wow, can you imagineActually the armory was pretty cool, though Jason got busted....the guard kept saying 'cabellero' to Jason who happened to be taking a picture of a horse, by resting the camera on a pedestal...Apparently the pedestal wasn't to be touched...anyhow neither Jason nor I registered that she was talking to him...I figured she was pointing out that that was a horse..'caballo' pretty close...it's when Jason and I started calling each other 'Americano Estupido' because boy did we feel like idiots, wasn't the first time or the last time on this trip either. After a bunch more walking around we took a chance and ate at a Mexican resteraunt...we felt so at home.
I wonder if I could get Colleen to paint that on my ceiling? Two young recruits reporting to gaurd duty.
You can only say 'don't touch' so many times before a melt-down. Side note...Zac is going through a 'licking' stage and often I heard Jason say, "Oh man Zac, don't lick that, it was around during the plague!"


Santiago is where the Apostle James is buried. It's an amazing cathedral with many different customs. One of which is you butt your head against a stone pillar in the front of the church, it's shiny where so many people have touched it over the thousands of years the place has stood there.

People take pilgrimages there, they walk there from France. You get a little certificate when you do it....because really, unless you get the paper that says you did it, it's not worth it. At different times, different parts of the Cathedral are open and you can view them, the crypt where the Apostle is buried, behind the altar and the big gilded statue of Santiago (St. James). When you go behind the alter, there's this priest who will bless you. So he did, then he opened his arms wide in the universal hug gesture and I thought, 'oh how friendly', thankfully before I went and hugged him he pointed to the statue (with an energetic head nod and a goofy grin--the priest, not the statue)....So with a giggle of my almost-mistake I hugged the statue. After the church we walked along the cobblestone streets, did some shopping, and yes...dare I say it.... stopped into a cafe for some cafe con leche and tapas (appetizers).

Saturday, October 28, 2006


This weeks challenge is: If I had it all to do over again, I would do most all things differently. However, how would I know that, if I had not had the opportunity to do them the first time.
-Janice Markowitz
In golf, there's this thing called a Mulligan. Basically, if your golfing buddies agree to let you have it, it's your chance to try again without a penalty. It's a do-over. We don't get many Mulligans in life. But if we did... if there was one Mulligan you could take - one do-over - what would it be?

I have so many "what if" scenarios in my head....it's hard to come up with the perfect thing, because my life is basically good. Maybe it would be not gaining so much weight, but that wouldn't be just one mulligan it would be thousands of moments of choosing apples rather than pizzas. Maybe it would have been getting a degree that meant something and having a more meaningful career before having my family. Instead, I wasted my twenties waiting. And now I'm at a loss of what to do with my life beyond being a mother and a wife(whole other Oprah). I think I would like a shift in personality, one where I stand up to bullies and people saying mean or prejudicial things; where I have the confidence to stand up for my children --- like when others are thinking they're behaving badly and I think they're behaving like children. This is where I would like to take my do-over, when it comes to defending my children and my beliefs....I'm not sure which moment in the past I would choose, but it would be nice to have done it once.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What fun!

The kids first day back and school and we get major snow and me with out a car. So, good friend, Colleen, played hookey from work (none of her students made it in) and she took the kids to school in the car (major gripe they didn't make it a snow day or even do a delay start and it was pretty bad out there) Then we picked the kids up early and took them sledding. Although my back hurt from shoveling and taking very high steps through the snow in snow boots (couldn't they make them less clunky and more stylish????)

I had a great day and hopefully so did the kids. We finished it with a round of hot chocolate.
And we got Jason's car fixed and it should be good to go for another 6 months at which point we'll be getting a new car....it's time to put his 89 Honda to rest.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two loads to go

My laundry is almost finished....BUT my computer is broken and Jason's car is broken (sheesh, welcome home, right) and we just spent all this money in Spain and painting our house...AHHHHHH. Jason didn't have any more room on his computer (the one that I'm now on) sooo no pictures of Spain for awhile. His car is at the shop now and hopefully my computer will go to the shop tomorrow. And I will be homebound and computer-less as Jason has to take my car and his computer to work. Maybe it's God's way of making me do my homework and finish unpacking.

Oh, two corrections on previous blogs...(thanks mom) Carino is not 'heart' it's 'love' and agua diente is spelled aguar diente...

Oh and back to Martha's really cool gift, my other friends (one called her supernatural in an email) and I want to be Martha when we grow up....Again I can't say how much I loved it....In her blog she called it MTC- operation---(make tracey cry)....Let's just say it was an aptly named operation and a bright spot with the whole car and computer thing...Thanks again

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

We're BACK

The trip home pretty uneventful and it was so great to see our home and crawl into our own beds! Today we're pretty much just lounging around in our pajamas and doing a TON of laundry the vacation is officially OVER....and before I go on I just want to say what fabulous friends I have! We came home to a scrapbook of pictures and comments taken from our blog...Martha you are incredible...oh and home made cookies. Thanks to neighbor kids Ryan and Austin for taking such good care of the house!
We were unable to update the blog in Madrid due to a very slow connection (high tech hotel, not so high tech...)...so off and on in the next couple of days I'll get on and finish posting pictures of our trip. It was pretty great and if anyone wants a European destination, I highly suggest Spain. Amazingly rich in culture and history, not quite as touristy as other more traveled areas of the continent and one of the only places that at one time, Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in harmony and in these troubled times I take such peace in that. If it happened once it could happen again.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Vino or Armore, what's more important?

Yesterday we didn't do much, but it was the first time Jason, the kids and I ventured out ourselves with out the help of the interpretation skills of my parents or brother. It wasn't as bad as we thought, with a lot of pointing and my very rudimentary Spanish we were able to order lunch, ask for a taxi, and even get that taxi home. This may, however, be the first day I didn't take a picture of us eating food. And as I read my past blogs I seem to have been concentrating a lot on food, and drinking....now the food probably isn't a surprise for most, but the drinking....what can I say, the Spaniards are up there with the Irish....did I mention that whole Celtic connection? Almost every story my step-father told of his youth started with 'and I was so drunk' (that and 'these roads were all dirt when I was young'). Last night I stayed home with the kids while Jason had some 'adult' time with my parents, brother, Gina and some more cousins. He said that his glass of wine was never empty, but after about three hours of 'dinner' he wanted to come home to me and the kids (he's such a good man!). He said it was impossible to get out of there. Until he and others started to allude to the possibility that he was coming home to some love making. Then it was all jokes, pats on the back and well wishes for him (sheesh it's not like he was going off to war). Now I won't say if this was an 'excuse' or if he really came home to some amore (it's just not that kind of a blog). But it's interesting that the only thing the Spaniards are willing to give up food and wine for is apparently a good roll in the hay. A lot of thin people here, they may be on to something.

Jason the kids and I went to the museum. We didn't understand much but it was fun, the kids had a good time....not a lot of pictures, so I'll just give you a few more from the past few days. Enjoy
We're off to Santiago today --- I just love how that word sounds, Santiago. Tomorrow we fly to Madrid for a couple of days then it's home. I can't beleive it's almost over, it's gone by so quickly and we feel like we've been here forever.

And we ate some more.....

Yesterday we went a bit inland to visit the city Lugo and the Celtic castro (village) near there.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtiberians
It's a great example of one of their little towns and there's a museum near it, One of Jose's cousins met us there and gave us a tour. There was wild saffron, which kind of looks like a small crocus, chestnuts, which are in the spiky outer container that you twist w/ your feet then kick the chestnuts out of the shell so you don't hurt your fingers. Spanish moss hanging off the trees and a holly bush, neat plant life. The kids collected a ton of chestnuts and later made a necklace out of them.

This 'castro' was surrounded by a wall that has since been covered in dirt and looks like a perfectly round grassy slope. The small round huts were Celtic but the square ones were thought to have a Roman influence. After the Celtic ruins we went to Lugo, http://vlsi.colorado.edu/~abel/turism/history.html, it is was one of the only cities with the Roman wall completely intact. There we had lunch with Maria Belen, her mother in law and her husband, Jose Ramon. And oh my gosh did she cook, it started with pasta salad, empanadas filled with tuna and muscles. Then chicken soup, then eggs and ham covered with homemade picante (but here it's like a spaghetti sauce) then she served us arroz con pollo, spanish style, not so much cuban style but it was still very good. We finished it with a cheese tart and peach cream (I managed to get the recipe for both). Although we could barely move we took a walk into the walled city, we went into this beautiful cathedral, of course I forgot the name, but they have some type of service there 24/7, even if it's just saying the rosary. We even walked by a very stern priest waiting to take a confession, not sure how welcoming he was, I certainly didn't feel any desire to tell that guy my sins because I'm pretty sure he would want me to pay a pretty harsh penance.

We managed a little shopping and Maria Belen's sister-in-law's shop where she sells all sorts of cool touristy things. One of which is a Iberian witch called a 'meiga'. The shop is three stories high, but each story is only the size of my dining room but in the windows she places all these meigas and stars and fairies and it looks like a little magical wonderland, very inviting. Today we're going to take it easy....Tomorrow Santiago.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More cafes, churches, family and walking

Yesterday we went to Carino (soft Spanish n at the end) which means heart. It's wear the Atlantic Ocean and the Sea of Cantaberra meet. It's also wear my step father's family is from and his father is buried. So we had lunch with his cousins. Lunch wasn't expected but we kept saying 'no' but then she would ask why...'por que' and we would try to answer, then she would say 'por que' I finally figured out there is no answer we could give her, everyone else realized there was no answer to give her so we ate lunch. I think that stereo typical 'Jewish mother' learned it from the Spanish, my goodness. After a long lunch and another trip to a cafe (our third by 3pm) we drove around the very picturesque mountainous sea-viewing countryside. We came across this great village, San Andres. In the 1700 they built this church there. There was no town or roads there at that time, they brought everything by boat to build it and the church overlooks the Sea and has this beautiful view. No one knows why they built the church there. People had to walk for miles in the Mountains to get there, but faith is a curious and wonderful thing and people made the pilgrimages. Since then they've built a small town around it, but there was something reverent about the town, like the whole town was the church. We spoke quietly and walked slowly. Every detail was just the quintessential small European town, along with an old man sitting at a doorway, a fisherman in the big rubber boots and a dog following him walking up the path and a woman in a stained white apron and printed dress sweeping out the dust from the house into the street. It was an experience as well as a wonderful cultural view.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Laid back kind of day, Espana style

(my brother, looking very European)
We started out the day in another cafe for some cafe con leche, and hot chocolate for the kids, I know, very surprising, then we hung out at home, snacking on cheese and bread. When we finally ventured out we were caught in a down pour and popped into another cafe/bar, they have these places every third or fourth shop. All pretty small, sometimes packed sometimes we have the place to ourselves. In this particular case, we had the place to ourselves, as other people in Spain seem to have the sense to stay inside during the rain....So here the adults (except me) tried this drink called, agua diente (I'm not quite sure of the spelling) it's like a 56% alcohol drink.
And apparently a bootlegged drink, so we won't be looking for it at the duty free shop. The bar keep took Jose, Jose and Jason into the back to show them where he 'stores' it, he stores it in a wine barrel, since it's bootlegged and he's not supposed to have it, I felt very 1920 speak easy for a bit.....I've been talking a lot about booze lately, but "when you are in Rome"... Then we wandered around a bit and played in a playground for the kids, and when I say kids, I mean Jason and little Jose too. At the observatory, there's this huge granite stone, I forgot what it weighs, but because it's in a base of water you can move it pretty easily, so we had turns moving it. It's a physics thing.
Then we walked around some more, had some pizza, Argentinean style and finished the evening at a Cafe, shocking. Today we're off to another town.

And we walked some more

We started the day at a Cafe, seems to be a theme here. The boys had hot chocolate that was so thick they needed to use their spoons. Perfect for dipping fresh Churros. Jason and I stuck with our Cafe Con Leche.
While we sat there (it was an outside one) friends of my parents came by and would sit for a bit, have their own cafe con leches and talk, exaggerated hand movements and passionate voices. I assumed, since they were speaking in Spanish, it must have been a rousing debate on politics, but they were just discussing the weather. After a couple hours we hopped on the bus and went to the light house. It's the oldest working one in the world. It's called the Tower of Hercules. The sight is reputed to be where Hercules fought a giant and the tower was built on his head. The name of the town La Coruna is named for the first woman to inhabit the area, her name was cruna.
At the base of the light house there are a bunch of catecombs, from there we climbed 234 steps to the top to an incredible view of the city and sea. The tower was originally built in the second century and then remodeled in the 18th century. It's not like the old light houses (and comparatively I guess not really THAT old) on the East Coast where you look up a spiral and see the top. In this one there are three separate spirals to the top so you can't see to the very top from the bottom.
Outside the light house there's a huge rusted 'horn' that if you stand under you're supposed to beable to hear the ocean that much better. We weren't sure how it worked. Then a bit more walking we came across an old Moorish cemetery and a replica Celtic ruin (we get to see real ones later this week). Then we went to another cafe for some drinks, i had cafe con leche, the kids sprite, my mom a vermouth and gin and the rest Galician Beer. Then we walked around SOME MORE and had some ice cream before we came back home and had a late dinner, Picadillo, a Cuban dish, not a Spanish one, that my mother made (my brother's favorite).