Saturday, May 31, 2008

On My Own....."Last (night's) Crusade"

Last night I realized that Julie wasn’t making me supper (since she is in Chicago) and that I was starting to get hungry. So what is a (temporary) bachelor to do at 10pm when hungry? That's right, I am too lazy to fix myself stone soup when there is just bread and cheese looking back at me from the fridge. So I took a walk to explore our area of the city and to find some quick grub.
Here's the problem...after walking for 30 minutes and not finding anything but jam-packed bars, I began to get discouraged. (I would be ok with going into a bar, but my language would slur - kinda like a drunkard.) shined like a neon-sign...Burger King. It's not because it's American, but it was the only place open that was "fast" food for me - and not a great language challenge to say, "numero dos, el Double Stack." There was a line of about 10 people ahead of me, and by this time it is 10:40pm. The line is not moving fast, so I have time to think about my order. I haven’t eaten nearly anything all day, and now my hunger pangs have started to pass, so I’m thinking just a simple sandwich.
But then I saw the propaganda…if I ordered a meal, I could get (yet another) Indiana Jones-themed glass mug for only 1 euro more. Sing me up!

So Julie will be proud that we have a matching pair of collector’s mugs – I think.
It doesn’t matter anyway; I know Dr. Jones needs my help.
I didn’t even finish my burger and fries – I had the Holy Grail, and it was getting late. My pistol was not in its holster, but fortunately, it was beautiful weather for a walk…and Madrid is safe at that time of night. I decided to be adventuresome and try a new way home…kinda like a short cut…kinda.I weaved in and out of streets, trying to stick close to the main ones as I headed in the right general direction. My adventure became anti-climatic when I finally came to a dead-end and had to ask some guy how to get back to my neighborhood. I made it home fine, and the journey was over. I don’t know if Spielberg could have directed a better night.

The fantastic beginning of a great legacy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Renae's Ramblings-Part 8

Now that I'm 9 months old, Mommy said I could blog more. Oh I have so much to tell you! We've been here almost a month now and I really like it here. At first, I was kind of confused about sleeping, but I started sleeping well really fast. I really like to sleep so I learned quickly. I don't sleep as often as I used to so I get to play with Mommy and Daddy more. They have been really busy lately so I let them know when I am feeling left out. And now that I can move around on my own, I just move myself to where they are and climb up their legs. They can't miss me now! I've also discovered how to open and shut drawers. We have a big wall full of drawers and book shelves. The other day I found a drawer to open and shut. It was really fun until I shut my fingers in it. Ouch! I cried and cried and cried. Mommy and Daddy tried to make me feel better but it still really hurt. I think that I probably won't shut my fingers in the drawer again so I keep going back to that exact same drawer. I mean, what are the chances of that happening again??

So anyways . . . what else can I tell you about? Well I like riding on the trains that go underground. The lights are really fun to look at but what I love the most are all the people! I like to talk to the people on the train. But I don't think they understand what I am saying. They act as if I'm just babbling! Let me give you an example of a typical conversation I have on the train:

Me: So what do you think about all the publicity Indiana Jones has been getting? I'm surprised it's so popular here!

Spaniard: Oh how cute!

Me: You think it's cute? That's strange. Do you think Spielberg can pull it off?

Spaniard: What a little doll!

Me: No, I'm not talking about the Indiana Jones doll, the movie! Are you going to see it?

Spaniard: How old are you?

Me: Old enough to see the movie that you apparently know nothing about. Sheesh! Don't you read the newspaper?

Can you see what I have to deal with here? I just want to have an intelligent conversation with the nice people on the train but I'm just not having any luck.

It's time for my nap now. Before Mommy and Daddy put me to bed, we pray together. The other night I prayed all by myself. Mommy took my picture. I guess her eyes weren't closed . . .

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Week of Primeros . . .

Some days I feel like everything is a "first" for us. But we had a few interesting "firsts" this week. (And in case you are wondering, the following pictures have absolutetly nothing to do with the text. I just thought I'd post some more pictures for your viewing pleasure.)

Renae's churro mustache.

The stroller finally rolled in some dog poo. Eww. We are thinking of getting a different stroller, possibly when I go back to get my visa. Our stroller doesn't fit through the metro gates so we always have to ask a worker to let us pass through the big gate. I guess Europe isn't ready for the stroller SUV.

Big beautiful park. Wish it was closer to us.

We had to deal with customer service in Spanish for the first time. We had bought some towels because of the great deal. Buy one get the second for free! So when we went to pay the lady said 60 euros. I didn't think that much of it until we were walking away and I through through the 10 things we bought. No, it didn't add up to 60 euros. A good part of me said, "Just don't worry about. Get on the metro and then bring it up with Jesse so you aren't able to be forced to go back and get the money back." But then a bigger part of me said, "Seriously? we were charged twice what we should have been. Buck up and go use your Spanish!" So we checked out our receipt and saw that the woman had indeed NOT given us the sale price for the towels. As we walked back I was running phrases and vocab through my mind trying to think of all the things the customer service agent might ask. It ended up working out fine, she understood me, I was right about the mistake and we got our money back. Whew!

Downtown quaint street.

We saw a man spit out of the metro door and then get big time scolded by an older man. We got off before we got to see anything interesting. Lesson learned. Don't spit or you will get chewed out by an old man.

Renae asleep on the metro. Again.

I helped Jesse go to the bank and pick up his ATM card today. You'd think it would be simple but because we are foreigners it took a bit longer than expected. The man was really nice and spoke mostly to me. I understood most of it (at least the general idea . . .) and what I didn't understand, he re-explained 5 different ways. It's so humbling to be on the other side of the cultural window. And on a random side note, to enter our bank, you pass through what looks (and feels) like a portal you see in space movies. You press a button, wait for the sliding curved glass door to open, step inside, let the door close then stand in the portal listening to elevator music until the other door slides open. Weird. But I have to admit, kind of cool. I might go to the bank more often just so I can pretend I'm being transported somewhere.

And a video of Renae! This is her right after we saw her REALLY crawl for the first time. She hasn't really done it since because of our wood floors. She would much rather climb up on things and stick her fingers in the electrical outlets. yeah, I need to get covers for those things! Luckily European outlets are a lot deeper than in the US so she'd really have to be digging deep to stick her little finger in one.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GUTI . . .

Our internet has arrived! And I just had to christen this Internet usage with a blog post.
So our friends Mike and Fer-Fer live overseas too. Before they left the states, they came up with this phrase: GUTI. It stands for Get Used To It. They would use it when realizing something so common here in the states would be so different overseas. For example:

"I'm running to Sams Club to get underwear, a computer, frozen chicken and a couch. Need anything else?"
"Not that I can think of . . . Weird. We probably won't have a place like Sams will we?"

"Nope. GUTI."

We have adapted the use of this phrase since meeting them and have used it here when we realize something really different about our lives here. Here are some of the things we've said GUTI about and some random pictures from our time so far. . .

Typical meat platter for tapas

1. Things take a lot longer to get done. (Although this internet setup didn't take nearly as long as we had hoped! So there are a few surprises!)

Jesse at the entrance to the big park.

2. If you need something on Sunday, wait until Monday and then you can buy it.

Churros are sooooo good! And the chocolate is THICK!

3. If you want to buy something between 2 and 5 in the afternoon, wait until 5 and then you can buy it.

No seriously. They are really good. One of my favorite GUTI moments.

4. If you walk into a crosswalk and a car is coming, you actually probably won't get hit. Pedestrians have the right of way. (Usually . . . )

Renae and her big brother.

5. Although I enjoy buying things from stores that specialize in their product, I can always count on a Chinese store being nearby and it WILL have almost anything you could possibly want.

TGIFriday! My Mother's Day dinner of choice. A sandwich and fries cost about 15$

6. When the futbol team wins, someone nearby shoots fireworks off. I was glad to find out it wasn't a canon . . .

Well worth it.

7. Winter clothes are worn until June 1st when it is then deemed OK to put on the summer clothes. It doesn't matter that we've already had 70 and 80 degree weather.

Renae and Jesse ride up the escalator on the metro.

8. The Metro is a pretty great way to get around. Renae has even adapted the method of Metro-sleeping. Now how people know when to get off is beyond me . . .

Mother's Day!

9. Dogs have freedom to do their business wherever they want. I have to tell myself GUTI to this one a lot.

Mickey on a break.
10. Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse are all over the place! If you are near a touristy part of town you are sure to find a Mickey Mouse making baloons. We are pretty sure Disney doesn't know they are here . . .

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Still No Internet

Happy Mother's Day to me! Twice! Last week was Mother's Day here and we didn't know until the day of. Then Jesse and I BOTH forgot about Mother's Day today! So since Jesse forgot, I used that to get him to take me to TGIFridays. :) What a great Mother's Day dinner but I didn't realize how good American food sounded. (I know know . . we've only been here a week and a half but food is my weakness. This is actually the longest I've been in another country without having American food!)

After our lunch, we went to Retiro which is a huge park. It was nice to stroll and sit on the bench while Renae had her bottle. What a fun day exploring our city. We live pretty far away from all of the famous stuff here so it's fun to go into the city where we can see the European part of the city and all of the sites.

I wish I had pictures, but we I don't have our camera cord with us. This week we've been settling in, and trying to explore our neighborhood etc. I'll post pictures later! Have a great week!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Pictures of our new Hood and Travel!

So this is the bassinet United proved us . . . they said it would be a teepee stand thing. Not so much. Can you see why Renae didn't sleep so well? (and why we didn't either . . .)

P.S. I also literally got scolded for having her on the floor in the bassinet they provided. HE must have known the stewardess and the United person in DM needed prayer because each time I found myself getting frustrated I tried hard to pray for them as they probably aren't believers . . aww the joys of traveling.

Do you see why we call our stroller the SUV stroller?

Cafe type places line the park near our house.

Fresh bread every day!!!

We took a trip with a friend into the city center. (Sol) This is the Plaza Mayor. Last time we were here Renae didn't even exist!

A side street near Sol.

This is how we relaxed on Sunday night. Have we mentioned we love the park near our house?

Renae loves it here too!

This post will have to do for awhile. No idea when we'll have internet so until then, enjoy!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

¡Estamos Aquí!

After 3 flights, and one bad experience flying with United, we are here! All of our luggage arrived (all 10 pieces!) safely and in one piece so that was awesome. You should have seen us pushing Renae, and 3 carts full of luggage through the airport. Luckly, Renae had won over a few airport workers who gladly helped us push the carts until we met our friends. We were taken to our apartment and then went out to eat. Since being here we have discovered:

1. A grocery store is right across the street! So convenient.
2. A panaderia (fresh bread shop) is just a few blocks away.
3. We live near a really great park that has a few cafes lining the street.
4. Our bathroom stinks quite frequently-not because of us. The pipes for the building must run all together and the stink is not so nice.
5. It´s going to take awhile to learn the metro system. However, it is clean.
6. We are close to a convenience store of sorts-good for quick candy runs!
7. Jesse resembles a Spaniard. But not just any Spaniard, a very famous Spaniard. Yesterday, a local stopped Jesse and asked him if he was Antonio Banderas! Of course to keep his profile low, he said no . . .
8. Siestas are for real. Everything shuts down from 2-5 and Renae sleeps for 2 of those hours. So do we.
9. Don´t look at the newpaper stands. Ever.
10. We are in a great location and are so grateful for where we´ve been placed.

When we get internet, I hope to post more often and to post pictures as well. ¡Until then, hasta luego!