Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Life Lately {Day in the Life}

I haven't done one of these in awhile and I love reading about how other people spend their day -- so I am sharing our day!  Serafina is a little over three and a half and I am a stay at home mom... Although I have started subbing one or two days a week at the school on base, but in general, I stay home.  And we live in Spain... So without further ado --

Documenting our day on a Wednesday -- which is probably our busiest day of the week!

7:21 -- I wake up in almost a panic as I have realized that Serafina has actually slept through the whole night which is a rare occurrence for our sweet Peanut... yes, we have tried everything and no, nothing helps.  We are just used to our little lady waking up at least twice per night.

7:40 -- I finally roll out of bed and start getting ready for the day and surprisingly Serafina is still sleeping...
I am not one to wake up before my kid because I get up so much with her during the night, I need all the extra sleep I can get!

7:51 -- our gate bell rings and I realize our house cleaners are a good 10 minutes early but oh well, I am happy they are here today because I have questions about a paper that was sent home with Serafina yesterday.  I was able to translate most of it but still had questions -- especially after some of the parents were asking more questions and making comments in our group chat.
So turns out her class is doing a unit on the body -- parts, senses, emotions, being healthy, etc.  The class will be learning about all of this in the classroom but the parents are also expected to teach the kids at home too.  Eventually the kids will be taking something to school that relates to the body and teaching what they learned at home to the rest of the class.... 

8:00 -- I finally wake the Peanut up and she is beyond excited that it is Wednesday and that our house cleaners are here.  They are seriously her favorite and mine too!  I love hearing Serafina speak Spanish to them (one does speak English but she forces both of us to speak Spanish to her which is wonderful for us)!  I also love that I have two extra hands today, often they are the ones that get Serafina dressed and fed on Wednesday mornings because she prefers them to me :)  On Wednesdays I pack Serafina's desayuno (breakfast -- aka snack) in the morning because it is fruit day and just easier to cut up the fruit in the morning to keep it a little fresher.
Most mornings, Serafina usually wakes about 7:30 and we snuggle on the couch, slowly get ourselves moving -- her eating breakfast and me doing the same while also doing chores around the house (starting laundry, putting away dishes, etc).  Serafina's school has a schedule for what to bring for snack -- what they call desayuno.  I always pack what is required for that particular day but I do pack a bigger snack because she doesn't eat lunch until she gets home until after 2pm.  I use our Yumbox and we love it.    

8:45 -- the massive scramble to get us out the door and to school on time -- we drive to school as it is just easier.  We have to park about 3-4 blocks away but it is pretty fun walking with ALL the other kids and parents to school.  It is especially fun when we see someone we know and we all get to practice our Spanish
School starts promptly at 9am and the school gates are closed by a city worker at 9:05am so you can't be late or you are locked out!  I can only describe the start of school as organized chaos -- there is a police officer (sometimes two) directing traffic around the school to help with all the people.  The gate opens about 8:55am and parents are only allowed inside the gates if they have a student in the infantil classrooms (so three, four and five year olds) -- all the other parents are kissing their kiddos bye outside the gates, so it is a lot of parents/kids hanging out in not a large space.   
9:00 -- the siren rings (yes, a siren, not a bell) which signals school is starting so all the kids run to line up.  Serafina lines up right outside her classroom so she waves goodbye to me as her teacher leads her into the class.... And then I begin the short walk back to the car, making sure to make it out of the gates before they are locked!
9:05-10:15 -- I hit the gym (on base) for my favorite workout class ever -- it is extremely hard but I love it.  Love the instructor and all my friends who are regulars with me!  We have a blast and sweat so dang much!

10:15-11:15 -- I have to leave workout class a little early to run across the street to my Spanish class.  I take Spanish once a week and I love it.  I have somehow managed to be in an advanced class with people who are practically fluent in Spanish so it pushes me to learn and study.
11:15-1:45 -- this is my time to run errands, do chores around the house, eat lunch, shower and do all the things...  Today I returned a few things at the NEX (the shopping store on base), grabbed lunch for Trevor at the commissary (grocery store), grabbed mail... ran home, started laundry, put things away, ate lunch, started lunch for Serafina, showered... It goes by so fast!
If I don't have Spanish then I have a little bit more time to get things done.  The days I don't have Spanish sometimes I'll grab lunch or coffee with friends from the gym or run errands I have in other towns, just all depends on the day.

1:45 -- head out the door to go grab the Peanut from school.  Again I drive because it is easier as it gets us home faster, gets us to lunch faster...
The gates open up about 1:55pm and again only parents with the little kids are allowed in the gates, so most are waiting outside for their kids to come out.  And again there is often a police officer directing traffic.  I walk down to Serafina's class and wait in a Spanish line (not a line at all) for the teacher to see me and release Serafina to me.  

2:00 -- this is my favorite part of the day -- Peanut comes running out of her class and immediately starts talking so fast and so much.  She has to get all that English in that she missed for the past five hours :)
shenanigans in the car before buckling up to drive home
2:10 -- home and eating lunch, having some snuggle time on the couch.  We usually watch a TV show at this time.  I have learned the hard way that it just helps Serafina decompress from her day at school, it just makes for a better afternoon.

2:45 -- today we have dance at 4pm so instead of nap we do quiet time -- Serafina can bring a toy or two (current favorites are her playmobil sets) upstairs and quietly play in her room... the goal is about 30 minutes but lately we have been struggling with that so I often have to go upstairs and remind her that it is quiet time.
We have dance Wednesdays and Fridays and swimming lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays a little later in the evening.  So on Wednesdays and Fridays we have quiet time, but the other days Serafina still naps (not always on the weekends depending on what we are doing).  She will usually nap from about 3-4:30pm.

3:20ish -- quiet time is officially over so we head downstairs and Serafina plays while I continue with the laundry...

3:50 -- the scramble to get out the door for dance -- Serafina takes flamenco lessons and it is the most adorable thing ever, the shoes, the skirt, all of it!  We drive to dance and we pull up right as the teacher is walking up, so I drop Serafina with her and head back home.
Parents aren't allowed to stay during dance, so I run home and start dinner, answer emails, translate all the messages that came in during the day from the parent group chat of Serafina's class, finish up the laundry...
4:45 -- I am getting ready to head out the door when Trevor calls to tell me he is on his way home (SUPER early!) so I ask him to pick up Serafina which gives me more time to get some stuff done around the house.

5:05 -- Serafina comes running in the door showing me all her new dance moves!  And then she helps dad in the kitchen making something... Trevor has a standing guys night with some friends on Wednesdays so he will head out after bedtime.

6:00ish -- dinner time!  Tonight it is spaghetti and meatballs with some veggies.  We typically try and eat dinner together (or at least Trevor and I sit down to dinner together) but tonight Trevor has to help a friend move some furniture so after a massive tantrum from our sweet gal who did not want her dad to leave, she and I end up eating dinner on the couch watching some TV.

7:00 -- Trevor is back so he and Serafina play a bit while I clean up and get things ready for the next day -- make Serafina's desayuno and get her bedroom ready for bed...
tomorrow is bocadillo (sandwich) day 
7:30 -- start the bedtime wind down -- reading books, quiet play, getting pajamas on, etc.
If Serafina has had a nap this is all pushed back about an hour.  Especially on nights we have swim since we typically don't eat dinner until 7:00pm.

8:00 -- lights out and she is out cold... doesn't always happen, especially on days she has had a nap but it is nice for her to fall right asleep some nights.  Trevor and I catch up briefly about a possible upcoming trip and the next few days of the week before he runs out the door to his friend's house.

And now it is time for me to relax and unwind before I head to bed... writing this blog post, doing some travel research and also catching up on some TV.

9:15 -- wake up #1 for the night... it could be a long night.

10:02-- wake up #2 for the night.  I am off to bed as it looks like we may be in for a rough night.

Of course there were plenty of redirections and distractions and a few tears over a jammed finger as Serafina and dad were playing on the floor... Overall our days aren't this busy as we have more down time -- spent playing in our basement, making cookies with mom, doing all sorts of art projects, going on walks, or even watching TV if the day/mood/weather calls for it...

With Serafina in school full-time we do have less time at home and less time for play dates or activities with friends -- which is typically what we do on the weekend.  Getting a job here in Spain as a spouse is next to impossible so for now, I am enjoying my time at home.  Subbing works but it isn't always possible because the school hours are different from Serafina's and that can be a bit challenging to figure out care -- but we make it work at least one day a week.  And overall, we still love our life in Spain! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Day Trip {Grazalema & Zahara de la Sierra}

This past weekend we took a day trip to two more white hill towns of Andalucia -- Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra.  Both are gorgeous and worth a visit* but I highly recommend going to Grazalema during their Sangre y Amor en la Sierra festival (Blood and Love), usually in early October.  The whole town reenacts the life of a famous bandit -- Jose Maria Hinojosa or El Tempranillo.  He wasn't born in the area but carried out most of his famous criminal acts in the area as well as married a girl from Grazalema.  All of this took place around the 1830s so for this one weekend, the town returns to the 1830s to celebrate El Tempranillo.
We happened to arrive right when things were getting started, we heard gunfire as we walked into town (don't worry, it was fake but very loud).  We watched a bunch of bandits take over some soilders and storm the government building -- to a crowd of cheering people!  We had no idea what was going on which pretty much sums up the rest of our time in Grazalema, but we had an absolute blast!
The whole town seems to go back in time to 1832 -- cooking over open fires, wearing period costumes, old/make-shift buildings... the whole works.  The main plaza was set up as if it were 1832 and quite fun to see, especially as more and more reenactments happened throughout our time there.  We ate amazing food, the best chorizo I have ever had, drank beer from clay mugs and Serafina even tried the hand crank ferris wheel.  Our personal favorite was the random flamenco show that took place in the middle of the plaza, that included a dancing horse.  Serafina's favorite part was petting the ginormous boa constrictor that she is still talking about days later....

Some tips for going to this small but amazing festival:
Parking is rough (aka non-existent) in Grazalema on a normal day, let alone a festival weekend, so be prepared to get there early, get creative with your parking and plan to walk a little into the town.  Bring cash -- you can buy plenty of amazing food (get the chicken paella and the chorizo) and beer from the various huts that are selling food/drinks, but all take cash only.  The only glassware we saw were various clay mugs, different styles for different huts/food vendors.  So do some research and follow the mugs you want and get drink tickets for that hut -- as drink tickets only work at the vendor you bought them from.  I am sure you can return the mugs for a refund (pretty sure we had to put down a small depost) but of course we chose to keep our mugs as souvenrs!  Be prepared for random and loud fake gunfire throughout the day.  It'll die down and pick up at various points throughout the day so if you have littles, just be warned.  Serafina hated the gunfire so we used her headphones to help mute the noise.  There isn't a lot "to do" but the performances/reenactments are kind of fun to watch.  There is plenty to eat and drink and there is a small hand crank ferris wheel for the kids (along with various live animals -- birds, horses, sheep, and that dang scary snake!).

After we had our fun in Grazalema, we moved on to another white hill town just a short drive away, Zahara de la Sierra.  Zahara is known for its olive oil and goat cheese (hard goat cheese, not soft like most Americans are used to).  Some of the best olive oil in the world comes from this region, so stock up if you go -- or better yet, go visit one of the olive making places (not sure what the technical term is).  You do need a reservation/tell the owners you're coming so this part requires planning; it is also usually a full day thing with making your own olive oil, lunch, etc.  But Zahara is still worth a walk through as the views are gorgeous -- if you decide to walk up to the castle (ruins), be prepared for a long, steep hike....

*So the drive into these mountains is a little rough -- narrow road and massive amount of switchbacks, but once you get to one town there are many others just a short drive away (typically no more than 30 minutes).  So plan on hitting a few of these towns in one day so avoid doing the awful drive more than once!

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