Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What we're doing

Living without a computer for one thing. I left Lily in my room for one minute while I went to the bathroom before we headed out to shop. When we came home I opened the computer to find the keyboard moist. 'Why is this wet?' I said aloud. 'Because I cleaned it!' came the joyful reply from Lily. She later divulged that she had poured a bit of water on the keyboard, which no longer worked at this point. Computer has been in the shop for a few days and will be fixed tomorrow.

This all came two days after I took on a web maintenance job at Oxford House, one in which I can work from home on my computer. It's a nice job which seems like it will develop into a larger position doing marketing for the in-center and in-company classes. I'm excited because the position will let me do lots of things I like: redesign and maintain websites, come up with activities and on-line attractions to promote the school, and generally help foster the nice community spririt at OHC. Nerdy organizer meets technogeek meets social butterfly. Plus I get to use Spanish.

Our VW is en-route to Barcelona, being driven by Oli's brother Dave and his girlfriend Laura. Only problem is the van broke down in Versailles and has been there since Saturday. Here's hoping Fergy makes it to BCN.

Lots of things are breaking: computer, van, refrigerator door (fell off on me - fixed with hot glue gun), electric kettle, glass jar we keep tea in (later gashed my finger open on one of the shards in the trash - probably should have gotten stiches; will likely have massive scar).

Lily is in to everything. She picks things up from around the house, puts them in various bags she owns and takes them to cupboards or drawers in other locations in the house. Also likes using scissors, glue and stickers.

Lily is also speaking lots more Spanish and mixing the languages. She peppers her English with Spanish nouns and inserts English into her Spanish responses to people. She wanted some water at the park yesterday (we stay in the park after school 2-3 days a week with a boy from her class and his mom) and I wanted to know if it was for playing in the sand or for drinking. I asked, 'Para beber o para jugar?' and she replied, 'For jugar.' I love it.

I start free government Catalan classes tomorrow. Language normalization, here I come (The department that runs the courses is the Consorci per a la Normalització Lingüística).

Oli has an ultimate frisbee tournament this weekend. He can tell you more about this.

Had an OHC picnic over the weekend, organized by Matt (our flatmate!). Was good times playing rounders (fake baseball) in unseasonably warm weather. Lily pooped in a hole on the beach and buried it.

And yes, my family is coming to the UK for the holidays, so we won't be in America this year. I suppose I'll see most people for Brian's wedding, though.

Consider yourselves updated.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mr Fish

Lily has a new roommate called Mr Fish.

Here she is getting to know him

and showing him the temporary tattoos on her hand.

Hopefully Mr Fish will be a good roommate and not leave wrinkled clothes and empty teacups all over the place. Meanwhile, we're working on teaching Lily not to shout into his bowl.

Monday, October 20, 2008


More photos of recent visits here.

It seems like I'm all about back-log blogging (bogging?) these days. Here's a nice shot Oli coordinated while Megan and Marty were in town. Flatmate Matt and the rest of us are on the steps of a the Santa María church in the Born. We had a nice day just walking the streets, eating ice cream and eventually beaching.

More recently our former flatmates Matt and Morgane were about. They got a big kick out of seeing the child that was made in said former flat. Matt had met Lily before on our visits to the UK, but Morgane, being all French and living in Paris, hadn't.

We had a great weekend that started on Friday with us all going out to lunch with Lawson (another member of that infamous household) and later that same day, sharing a nice meal at our place. On Saturday we went up Tibidabo and rode some of the rides at the amusement park. Matt and Oli almost died of fright on the Ferris Wheel. Lily had to reassure them each time around, "It's ok, Dad. It's ok, Matt." To be fair, it did move very quickly and when on it, you were faced with the prospect of tumbling out of the swaying cart and down a mountain precipice to your death thousands of feet below. Morgane and I had a really good laugh at the whole scene. That night, Oli kindly stayed in and let me go out with Matt and Morgane. A night begun with all three of us at a tapas joint in the Born progressed into one of Morgane and I out dancing in Mix Bar, and later, in the wee hours of morning, dancing at a place called La Macarena in the old town. Sunday was dreadful.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Stole this photo from Caleb's awesome blog post:

Oli has taken to biking Lily around on Bicing bikes when we're out paseando. Have no fear, they don't go in traffic, just on bike paths along the port or beach. Lil loves it and when not riding around, has taken to kissing and hugging all the Bicing bikes at each rack we walk past.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Happy belated birthday, me

I realize that I have some blogging catchup to play at. 

My birthday was almost a month ago and I was under the impression I had written about it somewhere. I might have mentioned it, but not properly.

In any case, Oli and Lily returned to Barcelona from England on the 16th of September and my birthday was the 18th. Amid pre-work and pre-school rituals and taking care of all the little odds and ends that come with returning to a place, the night before my birthday Oli suggested we just take off the next morning and go up the coast to Tossa de Mar. After some grumpy wondering about if this were a good idea in light of all the things we still had to take care of and Lily just beginning to settle in to BCN, I agreed.

We took a late morning train to a small town the name of which I now cannot recall,  and from there caught the wrong bus so then had to catch another and then another to finally end up in Tossa de Mar for mid afternoon. We went right for the beach, which was disappointingly pebbly and housed queues of German tourists waiting to go on a glass-bottom boat, but all the same was a beach with a view of the town’s castle and walled city upon a hill. I accidentally threw the Frisbee into the sea and had to strip to underwear and tank top in front of a boat filled with tourists waiting to embark upon a cave and grotto hunt in order to dive into the deep chilly water and retrieve it. Happy birthday, me. In any case, I adjusted to the temperature quickly and enjoyed a nice swim.

From there it was off to check into the hostal, where Lily was thrilled because we were given a room with a double bed and a small single bed all for her.

Then we made our way to a beachside greasy spoon café for classic Spanish and Catalan fried foods of the most average sort. We ate on guiri (white folks’) time so no one else was there and the head waiter gave us, particularly Lily, all his attention. Paper umbrellas and other drink stirrers abounded. Since everyone at the neighboring restaurant was bored as well, they kept tabs on Lil, and when she had a fall right before we left, a waiter from there ran into his café and came back out quickly with a chupa chup to make it all better, which it did.

After that it was dark and therefore, a perfect time to explore the castle. The lovely thing about Spain is that we are often surprised to find that things that would normally be closed to the public at certain hours or be highly regulated in the US or UK are not. ‘A castle on a hill overlooking the sea? A walled city where people still live? Heck yeah. Have a look around. Climb on it. We’ve put some lights in so no need to lock the doors at night. Have a good run!’ And we did. And it was fun. We met an Italian family with a girl Lily’s age and they chased cats around a little square in the walled city. That was fun, too.

The night rounded out with us sitting on the front porch of a local, sipping red wine with Lily asleep on me wrapped in her blanket, while we watched the night life slowly pick up around us. A waiter we had talked to earlier in passing, and who had given Lil a balloon, passed by on his way home and ended up chatting with us for ages. Turns out he lived in Barcelona as well and had a house in Tossa and runs a big company, but likes to come be a waiter in his friend’s café from time to time, you know, for kicks.

In the morning the old couple that ran the hostal made us breakfast and then we meandered through the town, past the ‘secret beach’ and back to the bus station to commence the journey home.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


One week into her new nursery school year at Xip Xap (which she started two weeks late), we received a call from city hall saying that a place had opened up at the municipal nursery school we had applied to get Lily into back in the Spring. We hadn't gotten a place in the lottery back then but were next on the waiting list, and someone had just dropped out. All anyone can say now is how lucky we are and that such things never happen.

We had to weigh our options:
- Lily was comfortable at Xip Xap, had already started there and was into the groove of things.
- Xip Xap's director and teachers were all nice and liked Lily and she liked them.
- The municipal school was gorgeous, has larger classrooms and a huge play area in the school courtyard.
- The cost to send a child full-time with all meals included to the municipal school cost only slightly more than what we were paying to send Lily mornings only with no food included.
- The municipal school allows parents to drop kids off and pick up whenever they want BUT requires a 5-hour minimum stay a day (Lily only went 3.5 at Xip Xap).

After meeting with the municipal school director, the choice was pretty clear: send here there, to Guinbó (that's the name of the school; it's pronounced geen-bó, with a hard g). So the next day we took Lily, after a morning at Xip Xap, to Guinbó for a meeting with her new teacher. Actually, Oli and I spoke to the teacher while Lily took full advantage of the other kids being asleep to take over the playground. She was joined by Oli shortly thereafter.

We really love the school facilities: the classroom is huge and well equipped, the playground is lovely, and there's a large glass rotunda that doubles as a gym area and overlooks a pond. The head teacher Enriqueta (Henrietta) is also lovely. I want her to be my teacher. She's so calm and, well, just lovely. There's also a younger girl Sonia who's doing her teacher training, and even though she's no Enriqueta (who is?), I'm happy to have her in Lil's classroom.  A final positive is that the curriculum they do with the kids will lead up to what they will start with in real school next year at age 3. This is a benefit, in addition to Lily simply being around Catalan, but I'm not really bothered since the girl is only 2-and-a-half and curriculum is not really a major concern of mine at this point. But, we'll certainly take it since it's part of the deal.

Today marks Day 3 of her time at Guinbó. We're easing her into a schedule of 9-3 (they eat at 12:00 and nap from 1-3 and I didn't want to interrupt that, so she'll be going 6 hours in the end!!!) On Day 1 I went in as playtime was ending, so all the kids in her age group were running about. I spied her hogging a swing and checking out all the other kids from that vantage point. Since she did well on Day 1, Enriqueta and I decided to have her stay through lunch yesterday. She was psyched about this since on Monday as we left we watched the lunch ladies wheeling the carts of little glasses and plates into the classroom. She did well, and as we left she watched the kids taking their little mattresses out of the cupboard, and asked where hers was. Thus, today we brought her sheets and she's going to take a stab at staying the whole time. 

View of our local park from behind our building. The school is the orange and blue building at the back.

More of our park, the chiringuito/cafe and the school at the back.

The front of the school. You can see the glass rotunda and the lake that is usually full of water and ducks but hasn't been since the water restrictions went into effect in the Spring.

The lovely school courtyard.

Lily after her second day. She's all greasy and smells like children.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

De-bate! De-bate! De-bate!

At 1:27am we found out that the BBC would stream the Biden-Palin debate live at 2am, so we knew we'd be staying up later than usual. It's 1:53 and Oli's making tea.