Sunday, February 28, 2016

Surviving Our First Week

We survived our first week in Spain.  Yes, I use the word survive because it was tough with a jet lagged baby and running on no sleep.  But we still are very happy we decided to come to Spain and think that we will really like it here.

We arrived on a Sunday and Trevor started work on Tuesday.  And Serafina completely had her days and nights confused... That first full day, she slept from 7am until 4pm - she was exhausted.  Because Trevor was starting work so soon after we arrived, I took nights so that he could attempt to sleep and be somewhat functioning at work.  And because we arrived exhausted, it didn't help that we weren't sleeping at night (or during the day).  Each night we would diligently do our bedtime routine and pray that this was was the night Serafina would figure out it was nighttime and go back to {mostly} sleeping through the night.  And each night we would be up anywhere from 2-6 hours with her.  It was rough.

We researched baby jet lag (sadly there is little out there for Serafina's age); we tried ignoring her; we tried engaging her; we tried quiet activities; walks, car rides... you name it -- we tried it.  But we could not get our sweet girl onto the correct time zone.  Each night she'd wake up about 1-2am and eat a full meal before finally passing out anywhere from 4-6am (which if you do the math, is exactly the correct time to be up, eating dinner and then sleeping on Seattle time).  We are slowly getting her on the correct schedule and here is my advice -- be patient.  I know, I know, so much easier said than done.  Let the baby sleep and eat when they need to for the first 2-3 days.  Then, start a forced wake up after a few days to get babe back onto a good schedule (or at least onto the correct time zone).  We decided on 10am because it allowed for her to have a good chunk of sleep at some point during the day.  Then try to follow eating and napping patterns you would at home.  For example, Serafina typically eats breakfast right when she wakes up, so that's what we did when I woke her up at 10am -- I got us out of the room and walked to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.  She then goes down for a first nap about 3 hours after waking up so I did everything I could to try and keep her awake those 3 hours.  And I didn't let her nap longer than 2 hours.  We are still struggling with many nighttime wake ups but each night is getting better (and the wake ups are much shorter).

Its been tough being in a new country, not knowing the language and running on little to no sleep.  Serafina and I were on our own while Trevor was at work.  We do have a rental car, but Trevor is using it to get to work (and well, its a manual and I don't know how to drive stick).  And so we walked, and walked and walked some more.  The weather is gorgeous so I made sure to get us out into the sunlight and exploring our new town.  I tried to make it back to the hotel for nap time so that I could nap with Serafina.  We found parks, the beach and also scoped out houses and the different areas that we want to live in.

Sadly we haven't ventured onto the beach yet (don't have my trusty BOB stroller) and it has been quite windy so we've just stayed on the really awesome boardwalks.  Our town is very stroller friendly and has sidewalks on every single road that we have been on so far -- each day I am out walking, I see tons of Spanish people out walking with their fancy prams!  I keep hoping one day one of these moms will stop and become my new best friend (ha)!

We also found a "baby only" park (I think it is more geared towards older toddlers but Serafina sure had fun).  There was a cute little playground and then various areas of ducks, geese and chickens.  Serafina loved looking at the animals and also playing in the dirt.

It was wonderful having Trevor home this weekend.  We went exploring and drove around to various towns to see if we wanted to live in the area where we are staying now, or venture a little further away.

While it has been very tough not knowing anyone, being in a hotel room and running off of very little sleep, each day I get more and more comfortable attempting to communicate with others and knowing our little town.  I am hopeful that this week will continue to bring a better schedule for Serafina and a little more normalcy to our days. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

We Made It!

Well, we made it.

We have officially been in Spain for 24 hours and overall, we are doing well. I may split this post into two posts because I want to talk about our travels to get here but I also want to talk about our new home.

But let's start with the 24+ hours of travel to get to Southern Spain!

Our first flight was to New York early Saturday morning.  Because we were traveling with five suitcases, one pack n play, one car seat, one stroller, and four carry on bags -- we arrived at the airport early.  We easily made our way through security and hung out in the airport until it was time to board our plane.

We had a wonderful first flight.  Serafina fell asleep on take off, did great just hanging out on the plane and walking the aisle; she took another nap right before landing. It was a good flight!

We got to New York and had a five hour layover.  We slowly made our way through the airport and because we had to switch terminals, we also had to go through security again.  We weren't super happy about this because going through security sucks but with a baby it adds an extra challenge.  Luckily I wear Serafina through the airport and I easily wore her through security for the second time that day.  We ate dinner (or lunch depending on what time zone we were going with) and again just hung out in the airport.  JFK was actually pretty nice (last time I was there it was under construction and was awful).  My favorite part was the Honest Company vending machine!  And Serafina took another nap, this time in the stroller.

{please excuse the crappy and dark cell phone photos!}

We boarded our next flight to Madrid with confidence, we just had a great first flight -- Serafina travels well, it was an overnight flight so we could all sleep, what could possibly go wrong?  Oh man!  Worst flight ever! It started when we were asked by multiple older Spanish woman why we weren't sitting at the bulkhead.  Apparently, it is normal for families with babies to sit at the bulkhead so there is more space and many flights have pull down bassinets there as well (ours did not).  I attempted to explain that we were just assigned these seats.  They seemed generally annoyed we weren't at the bulkhead.

It continued from there when we were forced to put Serafina in her car seat (something we did not have to do on the flight to New York) for take off.  She screamed and cried.  I kept trying to tell the flight attendants and those around us that if I could just nurse her, she would stop crying. At this point, Serafina was still crying uncontrollably, I was crying, Trevor was visibly upset at well and I am pretty sure the whole plane hated us!  Finally one flight attendant let us use a weird "baby seat belt" so that Serafina could sit in my lap but still be strapped in.  We had never seen anything like it and I wish I had taken a picture but I was too focused on calming myself and Serafina down.  It goes through your seat belt and then around the baby.  She nursed during take off and did great.  But then she refused to sleep and was exhausted. I have never been on an overnight transatlantic flight that didn't immediately serve dinner and then turn out the lights within the first hour of the flight.  On this flight, the lights were kept on for almost half of the flight which did not help with the sleep issue.  It was too stimulating for Serafina to sleep and so she cried. We tried everything but nothing really helped, she was overly tired and uncomfortable.  Finally the lights were turned off and we were able to rock Serafina to sleep (all while singing the ABCs and standing in the aisle).  But at this point, Trevor and I were so worked up, neither one of us really slept because we needed to calm down.  We were so happy to finally be off the plane and in Madrid.

We easily made it through customs and made our way to another terminal for our final flight.  Once again we had to go through security.  A very nice Spanish version of TSA man took pity on us and let us go through the Express line.  However, I had to take Serafina out of the carrier, we had to take all electronics out (but no liquids) and we just failed at this security go around.  We kept forgetting various electronics that were in bags, our car seat wouldn't go through the x-ray machine -- it was a comedy of errors!

We finally made it through security and onto our next flight where the flight attendants could not have been nicer.  We again had to use the baby seat belt but Serafina slept for about half of this flight.  And was great the other half.

Our sponsor (the person that helps you with the transition) picked us up and got us to our hotel.  We are staying right across from the beach (you do have to walk through a forest first) in a great one bedroom apartment style hotel room.  They had a pack n play set up for us, with adorable linens and a pillow!  We unpacked a little (this will be an on going process -- how to fit the contents of six suitcases and six carry ons in a hotel room), took a family nap and had dinner with our sponsor and his family.

And then we spend the whole night awake with a baby who is still on Seattle time. She napped here and there; we took turns attempting to sleep while the other watching the babe.... It was a long night.  I finally really slept this morning about 7am when Serafina finally realized it was bedtime and has been sleeping ever since... it is currently 2:15pm in Spain.  We have done everything we can to try and wake her up but she is exhausted.  We are letting her sleep and will work on the new time tomorrow -- we are back at the newborn stage with extreme night/day confusion.  This time with a toddler!

I went to the grocery store with our sponsor's wife so we have a few items to eat for the next few days.  Trevor goes to work tomorrow so Serafina and I are on our own in a new place, new country and I don't speak the language.  Should be entertaining!  I plan to go on a lot of walks and hopefully work on our new daily routine/schedule.  

We are exhausted, completely jet lagged, a little culture shocked but still very excited to start this new adventure. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

See You at Lunch

Goodbyes are hard. Especially when we have said a lot of goodbyes the past month. Everything seems to be "the last time I..." see this or that friend, go to my favorite coffee shop, eat at various restaurants throughout Seattle -- the list just goes on. Everyday has a new last. And while we are very excited for this new adventure, the goodbye part is still hard.

Two weeks ago, I said goodbye to one of my closest friends and just today I said goodbye to two other very close friends. All three of these amazing women have families of their own and while I know they will do everything in their power to come visit us, I also know that life can easily get in the way. But with that said, these women are my people -- they have been in my life for many years and we have all been through some fun, happy, wild and crazy times together.  Almost all of my favorite memories from various stages throughout my life have included at least one of these ladies.
me and my lovely girls at my wedding
Because we are leaving in a few short days, today has been the hardest thus far. I was okay walking into a completely empty house yesterday or riding the ferry one last time as a family. I am okay with spending our last nights in our house (we are on a blow up mattress so that helps with the situation) but somehow saying goodbye to more friends was just plain hard. It made the move that much more real.

One of these lovely ladies and her family have a saying that is their way of saying goodbye.  Instead of goodbye - they say "see you at lunch."  It makes it fun, not final.  And it actual much easier than saying goodbye.

So to all of our friends and family -- we will see you at lunch!

Some other fun pictures of me and my girls from back in the day:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Off We {Almost} Go

We are moving to Spain. In one week. 

This is something that my husband and I have wanted for our family for a long time – we both talked about living abroad before we even started dating (I’ll save how we met and all that for another time) so no one was really all that surprised when we started talking about moving.

Spain came about through my husband’s job and I am very excited (and pretty much all the other feelings) about this next adventure.  While saying goodbye to our family, friends and our small town in the Pacific Northwest has been very difficult, we know that this is an amazing adventure that we just can't pass up.

We plan to do some traveling, but also learn about and embrace the Spanish culture and way of life.
My hope is that this little space of mine will become a way for family and friends to stay in touch as well as inform everyone that traveling and living abroad with a small toddler is possible (and well worth it)!

I hope you follow along with our adventure of a lifetime! 


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