Sunday, June 28, 2009

Yet Another Random Post . . .

Renae has been sleeping in a big girl bed for about a month now and when she is done with her nap, she'll usually get down and play in her room or come out and find us. Today I happened to be walking by and I was able to see how her little mind worked first thing out of bed:

1. She took a long time wiggling her little body off the bed as if she enjoying the feeling of her legs dangling in the air.
2. Then, she walked over to the diaper bin. For a few minutes she pushed the foot lever up and down with her hands, watching the lid open and close. Open and close.
3. Her next step took her to the shelf that held her shoes. She found her white patent leather (faux) shoes and promptly sat down to place the shoes on her feet. And of course, the shoes were on the wrong feet.

Renae's choice of footwear, post-nap.

Pushing her "stoe-luh."

Sweet baby face.

And the first belly shot in this pregnancy-25 Weeks.

To celebrate being 25 weeks along we're going to watch the USA vs. Brazil soccer game tonight! We can't believe the US made it to the final. Our chances of winning are not so great considering Brazil is an amazing team but hey, we still beat Spain which says a lot!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Spain-0 USA-2

Last year, we watched game after game as Spain defeated opponents in the 2008 Euro Cup. It was a good year to be in Spain as they defeated Italy for the first time in 88 years, and then won the championship against Germany in the final.

So this year, when we noticed various TV channels had begun airing the 2009 FIFA Confederartions Cup, we got excited to watch Spain play again. I mean, they are one of the top teams in the world, and we do live in their country and one person in our household is a huge fan of soccer-both as a spectator and as a player. (The rest of us just enjoy watching and/or dancing during the games-can you guess who is who?)

But who would have thought that we'd get to watch our home country play against Spain?? Jesse plays soccer with guys from church on Monday nights and he learned that Spain would be playin the US on Wednesday night. By Tuesday afternoon, I'd decided it was a good excuse for a party and we invited Spanish, American and Romanian friends to come. By the time the game was rolling, our living room held 6.5 Americans, and 3 Spaniards. As the night went on, those numbers changed to 5.5 Americans, and 5 Spaniards (Although 2 of those Spaniards were the girls from upstairs who didn't totally come in the door because they were taking their dogs for a walk. I'm just trying to boost the Spanish numbers here . . .)

Cupcakes with each countries colors represented (the cupcake liners were part of the color scheme too . . . you just can't see them in this picture.)

So what do you offer in terms of food when hosting a soccer party for mostly guys, from 2 different countries?
  • Hot dogs and Chips
  • Enchiladas and Chips and Salsa (I know . . . not really American, but kind of . . .)
  • Chorizo (think salami-sort of.)
  • Queso de Cabra Semi-curado (sliced qoat cheese)
  • Slices of bread (baguette style)
  • Olives
  • Olive oil to drizzle on cheese which is on the sliced bread (so good by the way)

US scores it 2nd goal (can you spot the little .5 American?)

And in case you are wondering what that FIFA Confederations Cup is, it's held every 4 years, one year before the FIFA World Cup, in the World Cup host country. The US was playing because they were the champions of the North American Continent, and Spain, the champions of Europe. This was a HUGE upset as Spain was the 2008 Euro Cup champions, and one of the top rated teams in the world, and the US . . . well . . . the US just doesn't have a great history as being a top ranked team. (Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that little boys in the US are raised playing football while the rest of the world's little boys are raised playing futbol everday with their friends.)

According to Wikipedia (and as Michael Scott said: "If it's on Wikiepedia, you know it's true) the Confederations Cup was originally called King Fahd Cup as it was originally started by Saudi Arabia. FIFA took over the tournament in 1997, changing the name to the FIFA Confederations Cup.

It was a fun night, especially since we truly expected the US to lose. Of course Fede (popular blog guest) was there and he was talking big before the game even started about how much we were going to loose. Poor guy . . . we even got him to miss his salsa dancing class for the game. However when asked why he really came? He said it was because of my cooking. Yes. Fede is my favorite Spaniard by far.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Barcelona Beckoned . . .

Last year we were in Barcelona for a few weeks and Renae enjoyed the beach as much as a 9 month old can. This year though . . . this year was different.

Jesse decided at the last minute to NOT teach Renae how to swim the hard way.

Renae running from the waves.

We were only there for a few days and went to the beach one afternoon. The previous night, we'd taken a walk to the beach and let Renae experience the sand and waves. With all of her clothes on she loved it. Even when she got totally soaked and we stripped her down to her diaper, Renae loved letting the waves crash over her little feet, and then running away from the. However this afternoon that we went, she seemed to be scared. Perhaps we should have let her go to the beach in her clothes . . .

She didn't mind being in the water if she was with her Daddy.

"Are you sure I'm safe up here??"

But when Jesse went out by himself, she seemed worried and would say, "Daddy! Daddy!" I assured her that Daddy would be ok and was an excellent swimmer.

Playing in the sand . . . it lasted about 5 minutes.

My two "fishies."

Renae with the beach bum.

This was taken after the end of the infamous heat exhaustion day. One suppository and multiple force feedings of liquids later. . . Renae felt better and we got her out of the room and into the cool evening breeze. Although we were only out for a little bit, when we walked in the door to our room, she said, "Sleepy . . ." And walked straight to her bed, climbed in and laid down with her blanket. Our little fish was beat.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Sad Story . . .

. . . Is that we are without internet for a bit. We're in between internet providers and unsure of when our new router will be in. Currently, I'm borrowing internet from some girls that live in our building so I could finish downloading a movie on I-Tunes. :) We have friends from Caceres in town and this movie is one I have to watch with my friend Paula.

In other news . . .
  • We were in Barcelona for a few days for Jesse's work. We were close to the beach which was great except . . .
  • The one hour we actually spent there in the sun ended up causing Renae to get heat exhaustion.
  • Renae was sick and sleeping almost all day Thursday. Her skin was warm, but there was no fever. She didn't want to eat anything or drink anything. Oh and she was constipated which made things even worse.
  • I felt like a bad Mommy. Poor little girl . . .
  • We've got some friends from home working with Jesse this summer and they are here!
  • We're looking forward to a busy summer here in really hot Spain. Seriously. It's really hot here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Interview With Renae . . .

Vamos: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Renae. We really appreciate it.
Renae: No problem. Mom, I know you are Vamos so I had to talk with you wether I wanted to or not.

Vamos: So you've lived in Spain for over a year. What has been your favorite memory so far?
Renae: Hmmm . . . it would probably be the first time Mom and Dad took me into a chucheria. I had no idea what I'd been missing my whole life!
Vamos: And a chucheria is a what?
Renae: It's a candy store. Full of candy. And sugar. I really like the gummy worms and the long red things covered in sugar.

Vamos: So you moved from the midwest to a city of 6 million people. How do you like the urban life?
Renae: Well, I didn't start remembering things for long periods of time until a few months ago. So I have no recollection of living in that place you just mentioned. But I really like my house! I get to help my Mom open the big door downstairs, and sometimes we ride the elevator up to our big brown door. It has a big knobby thing in the middle that is just my size for helping open and shut the door. Oh wait . . . you asked about living in the city. Let's see, I love going to the park. Usually other kids share their sand toys and I also get to show off my mad slide skills. When we go places other than our neighborhood I get to ride on the bus and wave at people in the cars next to me. City life is good . . .

Vamos: Do you ever miss green grass and open space?
Renae: Well . . . I don't ever remember having those things. Man Mom, are you even paying attention to what I'm saying? You and Dad, I mean, my parents say they miss having some open grassy spaces so they take me to a big park sometimes where I get to play. And last time we went we took Tio Fede so it was really fun.

Vamos: I hear there are lots of dogs in Europe. What do you think of that?
Renae: Well, I want a puppy so bad I can hardly stand it. I try and point out every puppy that I see, and I'll pet any that will let me come near them. But the puppies, well, they leave their poo-poo on the streets and that's kind of gross. Mommy is always making sure I don't step in it. And when she was pregnant she REALLY didn't like the dog poo in the streets. I like to imitate her gagging. He he.

Vamos: So besides your awesome parents, who do you play with? Do you have any friends?
Renae: Well, I play with my buddies Levi and David sometimes when our parents get together. And at church, I have a friend called Irene. She invited me to come swim at her pool this summer. And Aicha has a little boy who likes to make scary animal noises at me. I used to be really scared. But now I make animal noises too. I'm good at the lion.

Vamos: OK, so you keep telling me that you don't remember anything. Do you remember any people?
Renae: Oh sure! I get to talk to Nana and Grandpy and Grandma and Grandpa the most thanks to the computer. I don't really understand why they are only in the computer. But I like talking to them. I really miss Addisee. She was so much fun to play with when we went back for Uncle Michael and Aunt Heather's wedding!

Vamos: So can you speak Spanish?
Renae: Everyone asks my parents that! What is this Spanish? I don't get it! When we are at home we speak one way and I understand lots and lots. And I can say a lot of things now. But when we leave the house, Mommy and Daddy call me Esther (it's my middle name) and they talk a different way. I understand a lot of that stuff too. I can't say as much but I can repeat pretty much anything people say. Sometimes, we talk the way we do at home, outside on the street. But only if we are just hanging out as a family. All I know is outside of the house, I say "Hola!" to everyone I see!

Vamos: Which parent do you like the most?
Renae: Mom . . . .
Vamos: Ok ok . . . what do you like about your parents?
Renae: Well, Daddy is a lot of fun. He plays with me a lot. He throws me on the couch over and over again because I keep saying "More." He also plays his guitar so I can dance and sing. Mommy reads me a lot of books and she lets me get messy. Daddy doesn't really like me getting messy . . . Mommy and Daddy both give me lots of kisses and hugs. And I love to give tight squeezes back. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Homemade Ice Cream Cones

Who knew something so yummy could be so easy to make at home? I'm posting this recipe on my recipe blog too, which can be found on the right hand side of the page. Didn't know I had a recipe blog? Join the club. I haven't updated it since last fall and it only has a few recipes on it. I guess updating this blog takes priority over taking pictures of yummy recipes and posting the (not so accurate) steps I take to create a dish. Perhaps this will inspire me to update that blog more frequently. But I can't promise anything . . .

Ice Cream Cones

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter , melted and cooled
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil and pastry brush

In a medium sized bowl whisk together (or use a hand mixer) the eggs and sugar until frothy. Whisk in the melted butter, milk and vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and whisk until the batter is smooth. The batter should be quite thin (like a crepe batter) so add more milk if the consistency is too thick.

Heat a 8-9 inch (20-23 cm) saute pan over medium heat until it is hot. Reduce the heat to medium low and brush the pan lightly with vegetable oil. Pour or ladle about 3-4 tablespoons of batter into the pan and immediately tilt or rotate the pan so the batter forms a thin 5-6 inch (13-15 cm) circle. Place pan back on the heat and cook until the batter is set and you can see the underside is golden brown (3-4 minutes). Slip a metal spatula under the crepe and gently flip it over. Cook until golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and slide the crepe from the pan onto your work surface. While the crepe is still hot, quickly start at one edge and roll the crepe into a cone shape. Squeeze the tip of the cone to seal it so the ice cream won't drip out. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Continue making the rest of the cones, lightly brushing the pan with vegetable oil each time. These cones are best if eaten the same day.

Julie's Tips:

  • I've made these with molds, and without. They ultimately will work with or without, but now that I have some cardboard molds made by Jesse, I love them. He cut circles out of a cereal box and formed them in the shape of cones, about 5-6 inches long. Then, he covered them in tinfoil and I'm able to use them over and over again.
  • Sometimes the tips don't stay shut when you pinch them closed. Melt a bit of chocolate and drop it in the bottom of the cone to seal it. Helpful and yummy!
  • You really do need to roll the "crepe" around the mold as soon as possible after removing it from the heat. I flip the finished "crepe" onto wax paper then roll it onto the mold. To seal the edges and tip, I press gently on the counter from the inside of the cone mold. You can stick the handle of a kitchen utensil in there as well to seal the bottom.

Recipe taken from:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Birthday Party for a (2)8 year old!

Our friend Fede had a birthday recently. I have a ton of cake mixes from the states still and told him I would love to make a unique cake for him. I didn't think about how we would be transporting said cake . . .

Riding the metro.

Have you ever traveled somewhere by car with a casserole or pie resting carefully on your lap or in between your legs? If you are like me, you don't let your husband touch it, but when you have to let him hold it for one second while you buckle your seatbelt,you tell him specifically where he needs to put the dish. And while he carefully places it there, you remind him to "be careful!" and also that he's a dead man if he spills it. Does this sound familiar?

"You touch me, you die."

Well try transporting a tank shaped cake in a shoe box, down a flight of stairs and 2 escalators while people scurry past you as everyone rushes to the metro before the doors close. Lucky for me, the first train was fairly empty so I could sit down where no one else was sitting. I made sure Jesse kept Renae as far from me as possible. (that girl can flail her extremities like no other!) When we finally got to our stop, we met up with Fede who offered to hold the cake for me while we rode the bus. I kindly told him it would be better if I held it. :)

After 1 metro transfer and a bus ride, the cake made is safely to Fede's piso. I even let him carry it up. He didn't realize how heavy it was at first (it was on a wooden cutting board) and the cake slid about in the box. He saw my face and was very careful to hold it just so. I know the cake was for him . . . I just wanted Fede to enjoy it all in one piece so I temporarily became the Cake Nazi.

Notice the cheese face? She saw the camera so . . .

Fede's piso had an inner courtyard with a small jungle gym. Renae wanted him to ride down the slide with her.

Un arco iris!

While we enjoyed our time with Fede and his parents, we saw a beautiful rainbow in the sky! And for the first time, I saw a COMPLETE rainbow. This picture above is the left side . . .

And this is the right side!

Yes, you have to share the cake Fede.
So why a tank cake? There are two reasons. Fede used to be in the Spanish military as part of the tank squadron. He learned how to operate WWII US Army tanks that Spain bought from the US. Also, Jesse and Fede spend most of their time waiting for me to make supper by playing Tanks on the Nintendo Wii. They get excited about it as if they were 8 years old. They celebrate when they beat the game as if they were 8 years old. So . . . I thought it only appropriate to make a tank for an 8 (ok, 28) year old.

Nerds . . .

We were so excited to finally meet Fede's Mom and Dad (who is taking the picture)

Like I said. 8 years old . . . Feliz Cumple, Fede!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Just a Day . . .

We had visitor from the US last week . . .

So we took him down to the Plaza Mayor where you can get a great roasted half chicken and patatas fritas for only 6 euros. All while enjoying the atmosphere. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll also get a flamenco dancer and Spanish guitars.

At the palace . . . we noticed a lot of important looking people from other countries exiting the building. Renae gave us a play by play of who was wearing what.

Then . . . she decided it was time to push her stroller in preparation for pushing her "budder."

Then on another day last week . . .

My friend Aicha invited me over for a REAL Moroccan fiest. She made lamb tagine, and a bunch of other delicious Moroccan dishes. Needless to say . . . I returned home much fatter. Good thing I'm pregnant . . .

And yesterday . . .

We made our first trip to the pool!

I was able to find a site that listed open air pools in Madrid and we found one just 6 metro stops from our neighborhood. Renae is offically a fish who did not want to leave. I only got this one picture in before I was told by the lifeguard that pictures aren't aloud. I'm thinking it has something to do with the fact that there are topless women all over the place at these very public pools. Eww.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Giving Birth in Spain-Appointments

Ever since we began telling people that Renae's little brother was on his way, people were curious to know if we'll be having the baby here in Spain.

The answer is yes.

Which means we're learning a whole new set of formalities when it comes to birthing a baby in a foreign country. Although we live in a civilized western nation, that doesn't mean we necessarily know what to expect. Many things are similar, and many things are vastly different. Over the next 4 months I'll try and fill you in on what it's like to give birth in Spain. Just in case you ever want to give it a try.

Future thumb sucker?

My OB appointments usually work something like this:
  • Arrive at doctor's office via public transportation.
  • Check into front desk where they ask to see my insurance card. (Sound familiar?)

Side profile.
  • Tell them (again) that we're "privado" which means although we are using their insurance company's clinic and hospital, our insurance is different.
  • They then ask for my 1st last name. I tell them I only have one last name. (Spaniards have two last names-their mother's first last name, and their father's first last name. Whew!)They print necessary forms and receipts, I pay the big bucks (I mean euros).

Another side profile and hand.
  • I head to a waiting room where I wait with other expectant moms, and middle to late age woman who for some reason forced their husbands to come along to their yearly gyno appointment.
  • After a 5-10 minute wait, a nurse comes out and says "You-lee Mah-sohn?"

Not the clearest but there is an arrow point to IT.

  • The nurse takes me to a room that is divided in half by a curtain. On one side is the doctor sitting behind a desk. I shake her hand (no kisses on the cheeks-this is too business formal).
  • The nurse has me hop on a scale much like the kind in the US. However my weight is measured in kilos. (It sure is nice to see such a low number on the scale!)
  • The nurse will then take me behind the curtain where an "ecografia" machine is located. She tells me what to do to get ready for the ultrasound and I wait for the doctor to come to the other side of the curtain. By the way, this is not just a 20 week appointment kind of thing. Each time I go, the doctor does an ultrasound. It's great.
  • The doctor looks at the baby, does her measurements and I try and catch the vocabulary she is using to describe what's going on with our baby boy. (Yes, "niño" means boy. Whew!)

Much clearer when zoomed in eh?

  • After a quick ultrasound, she heads back to her side of the office while I look around the find kleenex to wipe the goop off from the ultrasound. In the states the nurses make you feel so pampered as they do all of this stuff for you. Not so here.
  • On the other side of the curtain, I take my seat again on one side of the desk. The doctor has her computer and my files with her as she asks if I have any questions or concerns to talk about. If I've had blood drawn from the clinic below recently, she'll ask to see the results of that. Almost every time I have a test done, the nurse or technician will give ME the file to either take home for my own use (???) or to give to the doctor (who will sometimes just give the file back to me. (Again . . .???) It's kind of weird to be in charge of keeping track of all these important files on my baby!

I start to breathe a little easier as I can now put my brain on auto pilot for about 1 minute before I get to the check-in desk and am forced to speak in Spanish again regarding my lack of a 2nd last name, how to spell my name, when my next appointment will be, and that I'm still "privado."

Whew. Now that I've got a few appointments under my waistband, I feel better about knowing What to Expect When I'm Expecting a Spanish Doctor's Appointment (1st edition coming soon).
The next thing to master . . . figuring how this whole labor ordeal works in a highly medicalized nation.