Wednesday, September 26, 2018

72 hours in Espana - with the little accent on the n

Yeah so Lee and I went to Spain over the weekend for a friend of mine's (from middle school - crazy I know!) wedding. I think we were there for maybe 74 hours but 72 sounds better. I have a knack for short trips

A short while back when going was just a - hey, that'd be cool - thought; we really got to thinking. Hey maybe we should go? How many times are we going to be invited to a wedding in Spain? It's a few weeks from our 10 year anniversary so we should do it right? Shouldn't be a super heavy work schedule because summer is nearly over? But then there was, well what about the kids? What are we going to do with the kids? We have 5 kids, what should we do? 

Our trip would not have been possible had Jibbe and my parents stepping up to the plate and taking care of the kids. Monumentally huge because there is probably only one other person I'd feel good about leaving them with and that wasn't in the cards. So, many kudos and thanks to them for making it happen. And then there was the village of friends who helped cart people around, took kids on playdates, checked in, made sure everyone was doing okay and made the main keepers of our kids lives just a little bit easier. To the village - Gracias. 

A side note, but an important one, aside from the multipage chronological list of EVERYTHING and every single phone number in my phone - one of the last things Lee and I did together before leaving town (aside from praying we'd be back safe) was to sign our wills. It was weird.  I felt like I was fossilizing as the ink hit the page but it was important and necessary. If you have kids, you best have a will. 

ANYWAYS, on to the fun stuff... 

After the nearly 8 hour flight (that I slept through) we ended up in Madrid early Friday morning. We dumped our bags at our hotel for Sunday and got out and did some walking... 

Not too bad for 12+ hours of travel 

The Crystal Palace in the Retiro Park

The sculptures in the park are amazing

And the architecture too

I knew as soon as I saw the boats I wanted to go on one, Lee of course said yes

It was a bit hot but not humid. The water was definitely greenish 

We used to take pictures like this all the time before there was the double-sided camera

Then we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe - yeah, yeah, yeah - we collect a pin from the HRCs that we visit TOGETHER. It is funny because we were remembering the few that we had been to and then we  got home and I put the Madrid pin with the others - we had realized we forgotten the one we got in New Orleans 8 years ago. Anyways, I thought this was a really neat sink/dryer. Under your hands get watered, on top they get dried. 

Then we headed to the hotel to grab our stuff and walk to the train station. The hotel was in a super perfect location to Independence plaza and everything we did in Madrid was walkable. So we got our tickets in Toledo and lined up with a mountain of other people to take the quick 30 minute ride to the fort city. 

We did NOT walk to our hotel when we got there : ) we checked in, cleaned up and headed to the welcome party. Which was great seeing a few friends from middle/high school. Amazing views, amazing food, amazing times. 

Now it was late - or at least for us - so we cut out pretty early by Spain standards. People, we slept for over 11 hours that night. I don't know if it was the jet lag or the lack of kids or a combo of both but it was glorious. Uninterrupted sleep. 

We went into Toledo mid morning and wandered the cobblestone roads and tried to stay away from the tourist groups - there were a million. We went to a few churches and you have to pay to get in? Which is odd but I understand why payment is required (to help keep up the churches and to maintain some order in the sacred space) but it is weird to me as a practicing Catholic. Like why are people wanting to tour a church like a museum. Yeah they are beautiful and there's a reason for that beauty - so stop paying to tour a church and spent an hour sitting in a pew a Mass and take it all in. Which is what I would have liked to have done but even at Sunday Mass, when the sign said for Mass-goers on the side entrance because the main entrance was locked, people still milled around and came and went during Mass which so odd to me. Like you are kind of being disruptive so sit down and stay awhile. Anyways, I digress. 

We talked and walked and talked some more. So good for our marriage to have some time and space without kids interrupting thoughts and conversations. In the beginning it was just us and then they came along...

This was from a church/monastery we did pay a few euros to go to (the above one is from a church we found the side door unlocked and we were the only people inside except for a nun in the cloister). It is truly amazing these churches and the time and effort and beauty went into creating them. 

A view from one of the sides of the city. 

Okay people. Let's talk food. A. those are Lee's olives B. the Spanish ham - they cut it right in front of you - is amazing. That and some fresh bread. Done. I think I tried to eat that as often as possible. 

I meant to have us talk another pic without my sunglasses on BUT it didn't happen. Now the wedding was in an olive grove and couple is amazing - they seriously know how to entertain all the while looking fabulous and not to mention, you know, like getting married. It was a wedding for the record books for sure. 

I will say probably my single favorite food for the night was dumplings during the pre-feast appetizers - but there wasn't anything that wasn't super yummy. We made it back to our hotel Sunday morning at a time that we will sometimes set our weekday alarm clocks for - that made me yawn just thinking about it. We got up mid morning hit Mass and then headed back to Madrid 

We lugged (okay we rolled it) our luggage back to the hotel and thank goodness our room was available early and was upgraded ?!?!? so we could squeeze in a siesta in our 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, kitchenette and massive living area suite - before heading to the Prado. We had an express time at the Prado and saw some really fantastic art. Then it was off to find some tapas for dinner and retiring early to bed. 

Monday brought an uneventful trip to the airport - Lee said our taxi we took when we arrived nearly hit a moped. I did some work on M's stocking and didn't have the thread or beads to do the true final touches on it so I knew I packed A's for a reason. But somehow I didn't grab the pattern so I was super annoyed because what was I to do with 9 hours on a plane and no cross stitching to do plus I really didn't need/want to fall asleep on this one. So Jibbe came to the rescue and found my pattern and I paid way too much for internet just so I could go on and download my pattern and work on A's stocking. The day was saved!

While on the trip I read a good chunk of Love Does - which is insane and an entertaining, worthwhile read. Lee watched Three Identical Strangers so I listened to that while I worked on my cross stitch - that's definitely worth a watch. Lee left my copy of The Grace of Enough - which I don't even think I've mentioned - on the FIRST plane from RDU to JFK so I was bummed (as was he) because that book is super thoughtful and thought provoking. 

So anyhow, we made it back - Praise the Lord! Our trip was short but so fun and so great. We could not have done it without grandparents and the rest of the village - again we are truly grateful. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

7QTs - Books, Leaves, Soccer

Linking up with Kelly ... surviving Flo


We had some fun with C last Friday

Getting ready for that hairband

And thinking about walking



A and C need their outside time. NEED IT



The games have begun. M and the Grasshoppers were victorious in their first game. I love game like this because we were winning pretty handily and M and another girl on the team had not scored yet so the second half of the game, the goal was to help the two girls score - and that goal was met. It was great. 

Sunday the big girls went to a soccer clinic in the afternoon with the local professional team and college team. It was long and hot but I was proud of them for seeing it through - especially R who doesn't even really play soccer. 

A had his very first soccer ever. He is the second from the left - me and C are the first to the left. A's team has a really good player who 'gets it'. This is really important for 3 yr old soccer because you need a good leader of the pack around the ball. A and his friend had a ball. They kicked and they ran and they sat down but they were on the field for the full 16 minute game. No goals scored but he wasn't super concerned. 


M had to do some work for her family tree

She got tried of cutting leaves out... sorry kid, you got a bunch of peeps in your family


A is wild

He is currently sporting a black eye after running into M's bed. He cried. Put some ice on it and then RAN to the mirror to check out the tattoo. He never slows down and he doesn't realize if he'd slow down just a bit - he'd get hurt less frequently. 



Love them!


Hurricane Flo 

It has been an interesting week here. The early part of the week it looked pretty bad for us in the Mount. The hurricane path was coming for us. Well that changed and instead of getting pummeled with a hurricane we got rain, wind and one tornado warning that required a quick trip to the little bathroom with my favorite people. 

There was no school Thursday or Friday. Thursday was more of a prep day so E had swim practice - yay for out of the house activities and A tagged along. Then we shot to the library and picked out a few books. 

Lee made coffee cake on Friday morning. It was awesome. The power flickered one or twice and then I filled up the bath tub a bit more (hello flushing toilets with a well) and wondered if Lee would be hooked up the generator that he rented Wednesday afternoon. Tuesday things didn't look good here so on a whim I called our equipment rental place and they had generators! Who knew?!?!? That was a big wife win but thank goodness we did not need it. 

There's a LOT of people who are in really terrible positions so prayers for them

We've done lots of reading (R is almost done with her reading book!), work booking, Lego building and playing. We ventured out today for a short walk to nix the cabin fever. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hasta La Vista Summer

We had a pretty fun Labor Day weekend which I guess is the unofficial end of the summer. 

End of the summer? 

: ( 

We headed to a baseball game 

With some friends which meant the kids had extra wiggle room to roam around with their friends - which was great. 

After the game there were fireworks - which I think was A's first fireworks up close that he can remember 

Typical E

It was a gorgeous night and as the fireworks were going off it kind of hit me that it was really the end of a great summer. (insert tear)

R really enjoyed the show even though they were loud. 

Monday we went to the pool for one last dip

and popsicles

There were some crazy bee/bug things buzzing EVERYWHERE

Oh and there were hotdogs too

No teeth!

The last dinner of summer we had Jibbe and Grammy and Grandpa Joe over for Lee's grilled goodness. It was a great end to a great summer. 

Oh and s'mores too

We had a really fun summer. I was playing tug-o-war with myself of ready to dive into all the school stuff and summer. It is an awkward couple weeks between the start of school and the end of summer. So I guess we are all into fall but swim team, beach trips, late nights, lazy days... we will miss you!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

7 Quick Takes - Food, Holding Hands, Orange

Linking up with Kelly ... surviving of school 


We are definitely in between season and our laundry proves it


School uniforms and bathing suits. After this weekend a lot of the bathing suits will be packed away until next year. E will still be swimming in the fall and winter and R will likely start in the winter. M is in that strange stage of being capable of swimming by herself but getting vertical to take a breathe so she'll likely get more swim lessons with A once soccer is over.


I love these moment.... 

Walking over to the park during E's swim practice, they were just chatting it up. I think M really misses R during the day now that school is back in session

He may get on her nerves like crazy but she's a great big sis. 


Friday night Lee took me out to dinner for my birthday. It was really nice. We went to a local brewery before and played corn hole - which we never do. Then we went to a restaurant we hadn't been to in well over a year (because the service wasn't great). I'm glad we went back. 

Saturday evening we went to liturgy- we've been trying to get on a good church routine but it hasn't happened. Here are our options

Ukrainian liturgy - Saturday nights
Ruthenian liturgy - Sunday mornings
Roman/Latin rite Mass - block off the whole weekend because Lee serves at all the masses (and he's going to fuss at me about my rite notation but whatever : ) 

Anyways we were planning on making it a 3 week cycle at the beginning of the summer but that hasn't happened. It was time to hit the Saturday night DL. After church we went to Jason's Deli for dinner. If you have never been, it is great. Great salad bar and the best part... free soft serve ice cream. When we rolled in, it was a bit busier than usual so I wheeled A and C in their highchairs to the back room area where there was another family or two. I hit the salad bar and when I came back this mom was distributing napkins and packs of graham crackers (those are free too) around our table. I thanked her and looked over my shoulder and lo and behold another mom of five - hers were a bit older than ours. As they were leaving she said "You are doing a great job" to which I replied, "Thanks so are you!". Then she said, "Moms of five unite". Funny things happen when we go out to eat

So this meant that Sunday morning we were home - which was strange, but nice, but strange. I went on a run while Lee cooked. Cooking is definitely his love language - or at least one of them. 

He asked me what I wanted him to cook for my (family) birthday dinner and I was on the fence. When I finally made up my mind and knew we'd be home for breakfast Sunday I raised the bar even higher by asking for my FAVORITE egg bake. 


It is amazing and it is paleo - not like I care - but its got a ton of veggies in it and zero cheese. So after my run, we had a peaceful kid free breakfast because they turn their noses up at it which works out really well for moi. 

And if that wasn't enough he moved onto making homemade lasagna with two sauces and homemade noodles. 


Then we had carrot cake a la Grammy for dessert - which was AMAZING. 

Basically I gained a million pounds over my birthday weekend but it was worth it. 


C rested while we ate breakfast because she is a wreck sometimes which meant that she was up while A was resting...

Except A's door does not close all the way so we had to block the hallway off so C wouldn't interrupt. She crawled up on the blockers like a champ but was so frustrated she could not get down!


This should be R's last year of tee ball... 

Her coach (who is a good friend) wants the team to embrace orange. So instead of fighting it any longer, I decided to roll with it and got R some orange socks and she wanted to wear an orange hair tie. We are all waiting with baited breathe to see what color scheme we've got going on for this season (R's wearing last year's jersey to practice)

In other R news, she got her first blooming flower at school. Which is funny because the night before she specifically said - NO ONE IS EVER GOING TO GET A FLOWER - she was in a bit of a tired after school funk. Her teacher awards blooming flowers to the kids if they learn something new or do something great. 


Our schedule on Tuesdays is interesting and was supposed to work really well. 

E and R have AHG and E goes to swim practice so R and I got some time together and some time to read and stuff

Then after swim practice we eat dinner together and work on homework before AHG. It is perfect. Lee or I stays home with the others and all is well.

And that was the plan until this week...

Crazy tee ball games are going to be on Tuesdays - and they were supposed to be on Tuesday or Thursdays - so I knew there would be SOME AHG overlap but I didn't think it would be EVERY WEEK. So now I need to rework my game plan and pray for rainy Tuesdays


With bigger-ish kids in the house it is easy to forget what littler kids should be/ like to do.

Like take baths and sit and read bedtime stories for ever and ever. Sometimes I catch myself thinking would would NEVER have given E or R a shower or we would have read them ten stories and not just one or two. It take a bit of extra work letting the littles be little but when we can, it is definitely worth it.