Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Segovia . . . or Serbia if Your Name is Kari

My blogging sister-in-law sent me the html for the following post. I've changed a few things but overall, I'm thinking I need to contract her as the newest writer for my blog!

Kari and I in front of the Roman aqueduct in Segovia.

The aqueduct of Segovia

So here's a bit about the Segovia aqueduct in a nutshell. It was built at the end of 1st to early 2nd century BC by the Romans during their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Why did they build it, you ask? To bring water from the Río Frío (which we crossed over on the ride in) to Segovia. Think about that the next time you turn on the tap.

Quick numbers:
166 arches and 120 pillars in two levels
20,400 large granite blocks
18 kilometers long

Renae's chariot being carried up, up, up the stairs to the overlooks

The aqueduct are preserved so well! It was nothing like the Roman aqueduct in Lyon, which was interesting to have as a comparison. The Lyon aqueduct look ancient and really make you realize how old the ruins are, whereas the Segovia aqueduct show you what they must have looked like when they were in use.

View through two of the 166 arches of the aqueduct

Les Masson at the aqueduct

Exploring walkways over the city

Following Jesse and Renae to the top overlook - such a fearless little leader she is.

Los Masson

I love Kari's scarfs. Especially when she gives me an extra of hers!

Giving the camera a rest and just taking it in

Uncle Trey holding Renae

Trey waiting on Kari to take the picture of the Cathedral and then catch up to them so we could go to the . . . .

One tiny corner of the Alcázar of Segovia

. . . Alcázar! The Alcázar was originally a Roman fortification, later an Arab fort in the 12th century and has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy.

Checking out the moat before going in to tour the Alcázar of Segovia (the castle-palace)

Inspiration for armadillos everywhere.

En garde!

Jesse and Trey reading up on the armoury

Look who made a friend.

Stained glass with the coat of arms

Windows looking out over countryside

Don't you just want to knock on it to see if anyone is home?

Serious metal.

Big surprise: Trey at the top of the tower. He loves heights and always has to reach the highest point possible.

The view

And where was Renae while we took the tour? Entertaining the masses outside with her 'lobster hands'!
Seriously . . . she was entertaining others! At one point a crowd of around 10-15 people were circled around Renae laughing and taking pictures as she "performed." Renae blew numerous kisses, clapped her hands on command, and waved with her big cheesy smile. I should have put a hat out to earn some money from her . . . just kidding.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hiking near Cercedilla...

It's great having a sister-in-law who does a blog post for me . . . you'll find the same post here.

The whole gang

I've had requests from a few family members asking for an update from our visit with Jesse and Julie in Spain. Believe me, there are beau-coodles of photos to come, but here are some from a hike we went on yesterday in the meantime. We're having a great time, as you can see! (And yes, Renae is just as cute in real life.)

Isn't she beautiful?

Trey came up wih the idea to carry her little highness in a sling hammock to move things along.

Carrying the little peanut in her hammock

Les Masson...

...y los Masson

I love this picture of Julie.

Trey with his niece, Renae

Such a little star!

Trey waiting for the rest of us to get ready for the descent

And the Senoras Masson

At the end of the hike, overlooking the snowy mountains near Cercedilla

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jesse Graduated . . .

. . . From language school! So we invited his classmates over for a Christmas party earlier this week. What do you get when 1 Irish guy, 5 chinos, 1 polish girl and 2 Americans get together for an evening of fun . . . all in Spanish?

A whole lot of fun!

We taught them about the white elefant gift exchange, cookie decorating and typical Christmas traditions in the states. We had one "cool" gift in the exchange: A Pirates of the Caribbean DVD. If you've seen "The Office" Christmas episode from season 2, then you know how many times Ryan's IPod got passed around. Let's just say the chinese students were in typical kind fashion and there was no stealing whatsoever. Seriously. It ended up being kind of lame because each person just picked a new present! Oh well . . .

Daria and her cookie.

We went to visit Jesse at school to partake in the end of school festivities Jesse requested. (Yeah, I should note that the other students are continuing, but Jesse's part is done. He still asked the teacher if they could have a party since he was done. So humble . . . )

Renae had never met this guy before, but still she went right for him. What is it with her and men?

Jesse's class and teacher. They are missing a few students today.

Below are some videos from our time in Jesse's class, as well as 1 video of Renae trying on one of my black shoes. She's into dogs and puppies. Go figure.

Renae's new talent-tambouring playing to a Spanish Christmas song. (This is the children's version)

And yes, that is a room full of Asians singing "Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra!"

Renae and Mommy's shoes. Who needs toys?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm a Published Author!

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Here's how it happened:

  • My mother-in-law told me I should write children's books.

  • My niece had a birthday coming up so I decided to write a book for her.

  • I found and decide this is an amazing site.

  • I wrote a story about a girl named Addisyn trying to get a pair of red shoes.

  • As I sat down to draw the illustrations for the story, I realized I CANNOT draw.

  • The birthday came and went so I found and "hired" a real illustrator-my father-in-law! (P.S He gets paid in pictures and blog posts and cyber kisses from Renae)

  • Kevin sends me the the scaned copies of his work and the pictures are beeeutiful!

  • I attempt to upload the pics onto and discover it's harder than I thought. No worries-they have LIVE chat help! Four different people helped me figure out how to do everything over the course of my day. They were so nice and helpful. (As it turns out, I was making it harderd than it needed to be. Simply create your story in Word, and upload that file!)

  • I set up the cover and choose my options, and my book is published!

  • The book is being printed in the next few days and Addisyn will receive her gift (probably a few days late-sorry.) for Christmas! Don't tell her though-it's a surprise!

I nominate the following people to publish some books on

  • Kari-you've got plenty of recipes to fill a much sought after cookbook
  • Jenny-you can write AND draw!
  • Mandi-Mandi's version of "Kids Say the Darndest Things"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Renae's Ramblings-Part 15

I have been one busy elf lately! Mommy has been busy in the kitchen so she put me to work doing other things. I told her she needed to update her blog, but she said she had too much online shopping to do, more cookies to bake, and mail needed to be sent before she blogged. Man! Where are her priorities? So the blogging chore has been given to me. I know I do a good job so I'm not worried.

One thing we have to do around here is look at the Christmas lights. It's my main job. I keep careful watch of my puppy ornament and Thomas the Train.

I also help Daddy open packages we receive in the mail. My Nana sent us a package and Mommy and Daddy were really, really excited about this thing they put in their DVD player. On the TV screen was a fire!! I have to admit I kind of like it. Mommy and Daddy have cheesy faces on when they watch it.

I've been helping with laundry too this week. Sometimes Mommy doesn't fold the clothes quite right and I have to show her how to wad it up properly. I really like the clothes hamper and laundry room so this is a chore I don't mind at all.

I helped Mommy baby-sit yesterday. My friend is way younger than me. He's 10 months old. I have so much to teach him about life.

Daddy says he reminds him of a Kuphal! I've only met my Uncle Tom and Aunt Jenny and I don't remember much because I was little. I do remember playing video games with Daddy and Uncle Tom, and watching Mommy and Aunt Jenny sew a bunch of stuff.
Well I have more chores to get back to. Mommy needs my help finding presents for Uncle Scott and Uncle Michael, and we still have to clean for our Christmas party tonight. I'm really excited because this weekend my Uncle Trey will be here! I think he's bringing my Aunt Kari too, but I'm really excited to see my Uncle Trey! We connect. He gets me . . . and he gives me food. That's why Uncle Trey is my buddy! Back to work!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lost and Found: Chex Mix

I'd searched my local grocery store.
I'd searched Carrefour.
I even went to Alcampo.
But alas, Chex cereal was nowhere to be found.

So why does it look like there's chex cereal in my chex mix?

Because I happened to be walking down the chip aisle in Carrefour and there was a bag of cream cheese flavored corn chex! I think that had the other people in the aisle seen how my eyes lit up, they would have declared me loca.

I make chex mix every year at Christmas time and it's one of my favorite seasonal snacks. Last year, after Christmas I bought a bunch of seasoning packs to take with us to Spain. I had no idea chex cereal didn't exist here. But I could not be easily deterred and I just decided I would find the best substitutes I could. So when I found the corn chex in the chip aisle, I was beyond thrilled. Here is what I put in my Spanish Chex Mix:

  • Pretzels (broken into smaller pieces)
  • Mini-toasted bread (also broken into smaller pieces)
  • Lots of peanuts
  • Shoe string potato chips
  • "chex cereal" from Carrefour (sorry no picture-I'd already recycled the bags)

I don't have any specific measurements because I just kind of dump quantities in. I mix 6 T. of melted butter with the seasoning mix, then stir in the chex mix. (Double that for a double batch. Duh.)Then it's into the oven for 15 minute segments, at 250 degrees F. I also add extra Worcestershire sauce to the mix, and every 15 minutes after stirring, I sprinkle more Worcestershire sauce on, plus garlic salt. It turns out soooo good. Jesse even commented that this was his favorite batch of chex mix. Ever!

So if you live near a Carrefour (click here to see if one can be found in your country) you might just be in luck this Christmas. And don't worry if you don't have a seasoning mix. I used to make mine from scratch until I learned there were packets for it. All you really need is garlic powder/salt, onion powder/salt, and Worcestershire sauce.

Meanwhile in Renae world . . .

This is Renae wearing Daddy's cowboy boots . .

And this is Renae wearing her cowboy boots. I can't wait until they fit her and she can match Jesse!