I've been debating whether it is time to retire Spanglish Y'all or if I should come back and try to catch everyone up on all the ins and outs, ups and downs of the past 2 months. I've chosen to go the update route, but there will likely be loads of gaps in the info that I'm sharing. If something doesn't make sense, or if you have a question or 10, please feel free to send me a note.
The last post prior to this one was the end of November, and at the time I did not share that C was leaving his job. In hindsight, it was a good move for him both mentally and professionally; having said that the lessons and opportunities he had there were wonderful. He is forever grateful to that company and the people that run it. C is doing some consulting and retooling his professional focus. He is taking Spanish classes and learning some new programming languages. It is challenging and exciting in wholly different ways than what he had been doing. I must say that the opportunity to take a little time is only available to us as a result of the choices that we made last year. If we still lived in Atlanta, there would be a whole lot more stress and freaking out going on. However, knowing that our healthcare is covered without carrying COBRA and our overhead expenses are about 1/2 of what we were paying in the US, we are both working on projects that stimulate our passions rather than (only) fill our wallets. My parents came in for a visit at the beginning of December, and we were able to celebrate a few birthdays and Hanukkah with them. This was less a sightseeing visit and more a this-is-what-our-lives-are visit. We found them a small apartment a 4-minute walk away and they would come over for breakfast in the mornings to share pan con tomate, Violife vegan cheese, coffee, and homemade vegan tortilla de patatas.
After a week with us, Mom & Dad headed to Israel to visit #1 for five days. They seemed to have a nice, albeit short, visit and then they returned to Valencia for a single night before heading back to Atlanta. A week after Mom and Dad left, C and I flew out to visit #1 in Israel too. It was so nice to get a hug from my boy, to see what his life looks like on the kibbutz, to share Shabbat with his host family, and to meet his friends.
It was a wonderful weekend and capped off with #1 walking through the gates at the drafting center. The gates are a literal and symbolic gateway from life as a civilian to life as an IDF soldier.
After many tears, C and I took the train back up to Tel Aviv and had dinner with family before getting on a flight early the next morning to head back to Spain. When we arrived back home, #2 and #3 were enjoying Winter Break, and the family spent a week of sleeping in, working on projects (C & me), and playing CS:Go (#2 & 3). We got to share a secret with our boys that dear friends from Atlanta are coming to Spain in March to visit us, but that the girls and our boys will be seeing Twenty One Pilots in Madrid. We still need to work out how everyone is getting here from Madrid since it is the middle of Fallas, but small details in the grand scheme of things. The following week, we had a lovely Nochevieja (New Year's Eve) with friends and their kiddos. For the first time, Valencia had a fireworks display down at the port which the 8 of us went to watch. It was a clear and cold night--I will say that Valencianos know how to put on a fireworks display!
The boys had a few more days of Winter Break, so we chose to take them snowboarding in the Sierra Nevadas. C rented a car, and we drove down to Grenada, and I have to tell you that it is so odd to be in a car these days. We walk almost exclusively--I would say we average taking cabs four times a month. We don't live near a metro station so we don't usually take that either though we will take the bus. But, honestly, most of the time we are hoofing it. Grenada was a lovely little city, and the ski resort at the Sierra Nevadas was hopping. Though the boys had 2-day lift tickets, they both felt the effects of being at a significantly higher altitude, so they only spent one day on the mountain. I'm not much for super cold weather, so (confession time), I had never been to a ski resort. It was beautiful, busy, and seemed like the number of people working hard on their sport was equal to those that were happy to take selfies from the cafes.
While in Grenada, C and I took the opportunity to tour the Alhambra and Generalife. We booked a skip-the-line tour and had a truly lovely experience. Our guide, Nono (Juan Antonio) took us straight away to the Generalife gardens for a quiet and serene tour. As we made our way to the palace, we ended up running into bigger crowds, but because of the weather (it was sub 0ºC that morning), it was still relatively empty. I don't think that I could put into words the breathtaking beauty of the Alhambra. Because the palace was created under the Moors, the carvings are geometric and Arabic script. The scale is grand and precision is otherworldly. The artistry of the craftspeople lives on even despite their names being unknown.
We spent close to 4 hours on our tour and I easily could have spent an additional 2 or 3 if we didn't need to get back to the boys. After our few days in Granada, we returned to Valencia in time for the big Reyes Magos parade on the night of 5 January. I learned a lot last year from my Spanish teacher about how Christmas is celebrated in Spain. If you have been following along since then, you may remember that I wrote a blog post that the big wake-up-and-open-gifts day is 6 January or Epiphany. Valencian kiddos turn out for the Reyes Magos parade where they cheer for their favorite King (Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) and collect candy that is tossed from the passing procession.
This year, Epiphany was on Sunday, so Monday morning #2 & #3 began a new trimester in school, and our routine started again. That brings us to last Friday, 18 Jan. I was checking email when I received a note that I passed (APTO) my DELE A2 exam. I am so very excited to be able to move forward with our citizenship applications which is my next big project.
So there you have it, a big old post with pictures of many of the things that we've done over the last few months. We do have a few trips coming up and some other things that I'm hoping to tell you about soon. So, check in and let me know if you're coming to visit!