Saturday, May 31, 2008


Went to meet Oli at his work on Thursday as he was having a goodbye party with his students celebrating the last day of the class. Lily was pretty tired and silly on the bus ride home. It's moments like this one when you see your kid messy, shoeless and half-drunk in public that make you slow to judge other parents on the bizarre states you see them and their kids in.

The next day Lily put a bucket on her head.

Friday, May 30, 2008

We're going... this:

And this:

And to America from July 2 - Aug 6 (Lily and me).

And to England on Aug 6 (meeting Oli there).

We won't have the van for the VW fest, unfortunately. Oli has named the van Furgoneta (the Spanish word for van), but pronounced in an English accent. Her nickname is Furgy.

The Daydream festival is the day after Oli's birthday and we're really just going to see Radiohead.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Every day a party

Today was Lily's field trip to the theatre. We woke up early to get ready.

Feeling good in her Xip Xap gear, Lily went out to tell the world to get ready for her.

Then she exercised her smile.

And practiced the cool talk that accompanies strutting in Xip Xap gear: "Yeah, I know you."

Feeling good. Feeling ready.

Let's do this.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Tomorrow Lily's class will be going to the theatre, so her teacher sent home the uniform I have to dress her in so they can easily keep track of her. Needless to say, Lily was thrilled by the Xip Xap gear.

All the excitement kind of wore her out...for 5 minutes.

Ali (Alastair) came back from a search for a guitar shop with a new purchase. (Note the snake on the wall; a gift from Verena and Cammie who departed today.)

The music made Lily feel like this. (You might have noticed that a lot of things make her feel like this lately.)

And this.

After a dinner of roast lemon-garlic chicken, we walked through the empty lake in the park under a light sunshiny rain shower and enjoyed a double rainbow on our way home (no photo).


Thursday, May 15, 2008


Life is going pretty well over here in Seeley land.

Each day Lily does better and better at guardería. Today was day three and we had no problems leaving the house, which is abnormal at any time of the day, as Lily is in a phase in which every time I say we're going out she grabs her blankie and says she is going to sleep and goes to lay on her bed. What a weirdo.

Anyway, we got out of the house in a flash but she started getting a little upset when we got to the school; nothing compared to days one or two, though. When I picked her up, she was all silly and fun and the teacher said she had only cried intermittently in the first hour but not at all thereafter.

Yesterday and today we've had the best time together; I think we appreciate each other more. Additionally, without Lily in the mornings, I've been able to complete paperwork and important emails and phonecalls, prepare food, and generally just prepare for the rest of the day so that when we're together, it's just playing and running routine errands around the neighborhood. I will appreciate every moment of this lifestyle while it lasts since one day, not likely soon due to summer travels, but someday, I'll have a job. I have to say, I feel like a bit of a bon-bon eating diva housemom having a kid in nursery while I don't have a job, but on the flip side, I'm using the time well and REALLY REALLY appreciate the difference it has made for me and our relationship in just three days.

I'm also seeing benefits in Lily already. She seems to have connected with her teacher Cristina. I try to talk about her a few times a day and this afternoon when we were talking about school she said, "I want Cristina," more than once, which is clearly a good sign. After the second day we went straight to the park and Lily ran off and played without me for about 20 minutes before she asked me to join her. While Lily can play on her own or with other kids, we usually have to struggle a bit to get these things to happen. I usually want to play with her and enjoy it, but sometimes really need 20 minutes of newspaper-reading-sanity time. This is usually denied and I am serenaded with, "Mommy, come. Come play!" I'm not complaining here because it won't be long before I am complaining that I wish she wanted to play with me. Sigh.

The final positive result is that Lily has gone niño-tastic. She could say the word niño and niña before and would call kids by those words, but now she is highly aware of large groups of children, screaming out "Niños!" every time we see them. This may not be entirely due to her time spent in class with a group of kids, but it sure is funny. She even got mad today when we passed a school yard that is usually full children and it was empty. She yelled, "Niños! Where are the niños?!" Why is this a positive benefit? Not entirely sure, but it just says "good" to me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Xip Xap (sheep shop)

Lily had her first day at daycare/nursery/guardería yesterday.

Oli didn't have his morning class, so we both took her and she was sunny and bright all the way to the school, then screamed when we handed her over. When I returned I was told she had cried for the entire 3.5 hours, not tears though, just upset cries, and she made the teacher hold her the whole time (Could a parent be told anything more heartbreaking???). The teacher seeming completely unperterbed and Lily saying she wanted to go back, we returned again today. Today, she was very naughty (more than usual) when time to leave the house, and started crying when we got to the door of the school. I was told she cried 15 minutes and then settled in. The teacher Cristina, who is really great, said Lily played with other kids and was talking to them happily. She said one kid came up to her (the teacher) and asked in Catalan, "What is that girl talking about?!" emphatically. As long as all goes well, Lily will go five days a week from 9am-12:30 from now through June. I'm not sure that I'll have work any time soon, and if I did it would probably not just be mornings, but we thought it important for Lily to see kids more often and get exposed to Catalan. Thus, this seven-week experiment.

She has had some experience with nursery care in the past. In Andorra she stayed in one while we skiied for one day. In the morning session, she cried for two hours. In the afternoon session, she cried for 10 minutes, had fun, then cried when she had to leave. While staying with Oli's parents in the UK, she stayed for 4 hours in a nursery and did fine after getting over the initial tears. With this history, we expected some tears the first days and hoped for quick adjustment.

In the days leading up to her first day at the guardería (also called parvulario sometimes, although that refers more to school for 3-6 year olds it seems - it's called a parvulari in Catalan in the photos below) I asked her if it would be a good idea for her to go to school/guardería and play with kids without mom, and that mom would come back for her later. On all occasions the answer was a resounding yes, which surprised me since in the past she had responded with a whimsical no, generally changing the subject. I thought her experience in England must have changed things.

I tried to encourage this positive response by having her help me prepare the items she would take to school and leave there: cup, comb, towel, hand soap, cologne water (??!!?). That cologne water (colonia) really threw me when the school director was listing the things to bring. I found it right in the infant section of the store but still am not quite sure what they do with it, or more specifically, where on the body they place it. It says on the bottle we bought something like, "Small children have more sensitive skin than adults. Normal colonias, with high levels of alcohol, can irritate their skin. For this reason, ours is made with a low alocohol content, especially for children." I say, why not just refrain from putting perfume-y water on your kid? Hm? Anyone, anyone? In any case, it's nice that they have the kids go through a whole grooming routine each day, so at least Lily won't be dirty and stinky like her immigrant parents.

Also related to the colonia, I spent two days trying to find the right kind of bottle to put it in. Intially, I bought a massive bottle of the stuff, the only kind of bottle it seemed to come in, and got a smaller spray bottle from one of the Oriental Bazar shops, as the director had seemed to indicate that this was the type of bottle generally employed. I had to ask her what colonia was and she was nice enough not to treat me like an alien; she did do a whole hand mime thing when talking about the spraying, which made me feel like a douche, but that's not her fault. After the first day the teacher told me I might want to bring still a smaller bottle that Lily could operate herself since the kids do the grooming themselves, and she showed me an example of one of the bottles with a button that pops up and down to release small amounts of liquid. So I spent another day out trying to find the right size and top type so my kid wouldn't be a smelly freak immigrant (See next paragraph.). After an afternoon out in the sun during which I should have been buying ingredients for dinner, a woman in a perfume shop directed me to a supermarket that might have what I was looking for and there, I broke down and bought a 10-euro set of small bottles of pretty-smelling-baby liquids that included soap, shampoo, lotion and, ta da, colonia. I thought Lily smelled pretty good before, but man, you should smell her now. Synthetic flower never smelled so nice on a kid.

Despite the humourous anecdotes it yields, I'm not joking about my preocupation with Lily's immigrant status, or more specifically, my status as an immigrant mom. This whole daycare thing has begun what I can only imagine will continue as long as we live here: my preoccupation with Lily's level of normalness and my inability to express myself and represent our family in Spanish as well as I can in English. It was frustrating trying to communicate through all the paperwork we had to do, but I was able to operate anonymously in big offices I would never (hopefully) return to. Now, I'm dealing with Lily's course director, her teacher, her doctor, etc. and I don't want to be that lady they roll their eyes at when they see her name on a list. I guess most important is that Lily is a trooper and an all-around charismatic kid whose personality speaks for itself, so really all that leaves is me worrying about how I look to the rest of the world. Oh, ego. I just want these people to know that I'm nice, that we're nice, that we're not drunk Brits on holiday or Americans from red states.

I get frustrated sometimes, no, often, at the ease with which Europeans dabble in languages, speaking many at decent levels of fluidity. OK, fine, romance languages are similar and this makes it easier for them sometimes, but it's more the confidence and lack of caring about making mistakes. I have gotten over this fear A LOT since I last lived here, mostly through necessity (Thank you, Lily, for requiring me to go through so many processes and making me feel a need to integrate.), but still remain easily damaged when I feel an encounter didn't go well. Well, in any case, I'm doing three intercambios, all of which are really good, and during this week while Lily was in school, have been on five office visits, completing our last cycle of hell (I finally have a Spanish ID card and social security number and soon a health care card!), and was really pleased with how easy communicating through these visits has become. Additionally. I've noticed and been really happy with how many neighborhood friends we seem to have: a family in our building with a girl close to Lily's age, three separate middle-to-old-aged ladies, the frutería husband and wife, the panadería ladies, and aaaaalll the ladies at the supermarket, I mean all of 'em.

I guess what this all means is that it's tough to be an immigrant, but if you tough it out you might actually get a chance to live in (not just continuously move to) the foreign land in question, and find out if you like it. We'll let you know how it goes :)


Ready to go.

Big girl with a bookbag.

Happy with dad.

Becoming unsure.

Not having it despite dad's valiant attempt. Wants to go elsewhere, as indicated by pointing finger.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Home again.

And what a week it’s been.

The last 40 hours have been a blur and now I find myself in front of the computer again in a flat that resembles a college dorm room. There are empty juice containers lying around, peanut-buttery dishes in odd locations, smelly, smelly linens, half-full tea cups, headphones, open DVD cases, newspapers, flies.

On the bright side, I’ve had a fantastic two days to myself since Oli flew away yesterday morning. I shlumped about the house all day yesterday (thus its current state), reading Sin noticias de Gurb by Eduardo Mendoza, watching Secrets and Lies (DVD came free with Friday’s paper), playing on Facebook and Blogger, and napping. Then went out clothes shopping in our neighborhood after siesta at 5. Met up with some people from Oxford House for happy hour in the Raval (sporting a new outfit, of course). Eddie and others caught up with us later and after a few more non-happy-hour rounds, it was off to the Born. At my urging, we tried to get into Mix Bar (where one can properly dance) at 2:30 (they close at 3), but it was full up, so we ended the night in the Black Horse pub. It was nice to see two friend groups collide and get on really well. Poured myself into bed at 4 something….

…then began waking up at 9:19 so I could meet Noelia in the center at 11. My personal day-after remedy is to postpone showering and start the day with water, tea, and a banana. Did the trick beautifully today and after meeting up with Noelia, we proceeded to walk and talk for 3 hours, stopping only 10 minutes for a coffee.

Then it was on to the guiri (white folks) bar at the bottom of the Ramblas for English Breakfast with Timo, Eddie, Mark and Bernie. The afternoon intake of an English Breakfast is the second part of my remedy.

Thereafter I got to take my first ride on a moto as Timo zipped me around town to gather beach equipment and we all headed to one of the northern city beaches. I have never had any interest in motorcycles and motos, but now stand among those who LOVE them. I just read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which somewhat peaked my interest, but now wholeheartedly appreciate the romantic quality of this form of transport. I look forward to future encounters, and now that our VW camper has arrived in England, the next purchase will surely be a moto :)

I’m up early tomorrow to drag myself off to El Prat to teach Oli’s classes, so now it’s bloggin’, lesson plans, dinner, book, bed.

Happy sigh.