Friday, January 29, 2010

First Post from Iowa

We've officially been back in the state a little over one week. I haven't taken any pictures. Instead, I've been enjoying being around family, relaxing to some HGTV and Travel channel fun, and I've seriously enjoyed all the free baby sitting! The will power isn't working so well as there are too many options for yummy things to eat, but I'm going to try and nip my "hunger" in the bud.

Our trip back was fairily smooth until we were about 15 minutes from landing in Des Moines. The pilot came on and said that due to a mechanical problem we had to turn around to Chicago. Thankfully the airline put us up in hotel directly across from the airport. We ended up having an airline worker call someone to help us carry our 7 carry ons and 2 children to the hotel room. Renae had fallen asleep on the return trip to Chicago and was old cold. Jesse even changed her into her PJ's without so much as a peep.

We arrived in Des Moines about 12 hours later than planned but everything was OK. All 9 of our pieces of luggage made it (and I'm pretty sure the little plane we flew from Chicago to Des Moines carried only our luggage . . . .) Nana and Grandpy arrived to say hello to their newest grandson and give hugs to Renae. We opened presents at their place after a big Iowa breakfast of sausage and eggs. Yummy.

Here's what we've been up to since returning to Iowa
  • 1 trip to Arby's (for Julie of course . . . but Jesse got some too.)
  • 2 trips to Target.
  • 2 trips to Wal-Mart.
  • 1 trip to Best Buy (for Jesse of course)
  • A weekend visit to the other Grandparents house.
  • Multiple short trips outside of the house WITHOUT kids!
  • 1 trip to the urologist to talk about Sammy's snip snip.
  • 1 trip to the pediatrician to find out he has an ear infection (caused by the flight.)
  • 2 Survey of the New Testament classes (definetly not Julie)
  • Lots of hours reading and writing a paper for homework (still only by
  • Lots of hours trying to find where we packed all of our clothes . . .
  • Enjoying being around our family. It can't be beat.

On a date our last night in Madrid.

So good . . . thanks again Bea and Jose!!

Had to say good-bye to Sol . . .

. . . And one of my favorite views of Madrid.

Renae says good-bye to her buddy David at the airport.

We miss you Wilsons!

Renae enjoying a little preflight reading . . .

This is where we put Renae while we figured out if we'd been re-booked.

Two kids fast asleep, and us with all of our stuff. I can't believe all of it made it home . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Last Post From Spain . . .

But first a few pictures from Jesse's trip to London.

Jesse and Fede enjoying the sights.

What do you do in a city you've never been to? You see movies-2 of them!

Now onto a good-bye party we had . . .

Follow me on this one . . .
Renae was born on the same day as Mara.
Sammy was born on the same day as Dwight.
Mara and Dwight are married.
Dwight is from Iowa.
Weird . . .

My good friend Amber. Going to miss you friend.

Amber's kids and my kids. Renae and the boys were best buddies. Trust me.

Our best souvenir from Spain.

I don't know even know how to sum up our time here in Spain. All I can say is I'm so glad we allowed God to dictate our steps. It was a big scary decision to move away from family and friends, especially when we had a baby girl. And there were times when it was really hard to be so far away. But overall, it was one big amazing ride. The things we learned here were not things we could have learned back in the States. God knew what He was thinking when He told us we needed to get out of our comfort zone and into an uncomfortable one. All I can say is I highly recommend the stress and heartache of moving overseas. There is nothing like it.

So . . .

19 hours will pass before we leave Madrid.
9 bags are already checked into the airport.
7 carry-on bags are also packed and sitting in our hotel room.
4 Massons will board the plane with the 7 bags, a carseat, and a stroller.
2 Masson's will be seriously lacking in sleep during the 9.5 hour plane ride.
0 tears will be shed by Jesse. Heartless . . .
Too many tears will be shed to count by Julie.
Nos echaremos de menos Madrid . . .

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Renae has not been herself this week. I think I know why . . .

"When your family moves, your preschooler may feel as if his comfortable, predictable world has turned upside down, as if someone had jerked the rug out from under him, and he has been thrown off balance. Nothing is familiar anymore; nothing is comfortable; a bewildering time for a preschooler.

Claudia Jewett Jarratt states in Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss, "When a child moves..., everything changes: the way the light comes through the window as the child goes to sleep or wakes up, the smells and sounds of the house, the colors and furniture the child sees, the food the child eats, parental expectations, routine, and tempo of daily living. It is much like being in an unfamiliar country. Nothing is the same. Remember that for children, the loss of their familiar home can seem like the loss of a family member, because they tend to identify themselves with specific spaces, repeated events, and familiar people. Moving can cause disorientation."
A preschooler's response to a family move is usually similar to grieving. To a child, a move is a loss, and the human response to loss is grief. Preschoolers don't have the emotional vocabulary to put into words how they feel. Even a highly verbal preschooler may not know the specific feeling words to use. Behaviors may take the place of words. Here are some transition symptoms you may see:

  • Attempts to control parents and other adults. Check.
  • Grieving for previous house, friends, etc.
  • Defiance, tantrums, crying. Check.
  • Clinginess.
  • Sleep disturbances. Check.
  • Easily distracted, hyperactive OR unusually lethargic, shy and quiet.
  • Prefers the familiar and comfortable. Doesn't want to try new foods. Resists potty training. May regress. Check.
  • Nervous habits such as thumb sucking, twisting hair, chewing on clothes, stuttering.
  • Arguing and not getting along with siblings and friends.

Preschoolers grieve off and on. They don't get it all over with once and for all. Grieving is too intense for them, so they have to intersperse it with playing and other aspects of life. A preschooler can grieve and play at the same time. She may be very sad for an hour about a friend left behind, then not even mention the friend for a week, and then go through a day or two of sadness about the same friend. "

Just what I needed to hear as I began to fear my daughter had all of a sudden forgotten all of our rules and expectations for her. Whew. This is normal. And as Jesse so kindly reminded me, this is just a season of life.

So, I decided I needed a list for myself too as my behavior this week hasn't been normal either!

Transition symptoms you may see in a 27 year old:

  • May cry a lot.
  • May cry while on a walk in her neighborhood for the last time.
  • Tantrums.
  • Nervous habits such as checking airline requirments for luggage over and over.
  • May cry when dealing with a 2 year old's crying fit.
  • May cry when she overeacts to her 2 year olds mess.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • May cry a lot.
  • Grieving for previous friends, city and food.
  • Meals may become premade, frozen and made in less than 10 minutes.
  • Grieving for chocolate. (This one is unrelated to transition but I'm still grieving it.)
  • Arguing with spouse.
  • May cry a lot.
  • Sleep disturbances.

So if you think of it, be praying for our family these next few weeks. I'm older so I can handle the transition better than Renae can. For her, we'll be letting her watch and listen to the Spanish vidoes and audio CD's that she enjoys here. It will be interesting to see how she handles only English from everyone she meets. I think I'm grieving her lack of Spanish friends more than she will!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

All Alone . . .

Renae's only little girl friend here . . .

For the first time since we've had Sammy I'm pulling single mom duty. Jesse is visiting our friend Fede in London. Our first night alone resulted in one potty accident (on OUR bed), and Sammy having a very restless 2 hours early (really early) this morning. Renae rarely has accidents. Sammy has been sleeping through the night for a few weeks now. I guess we all miss him. So I'm praying for extra patience this week, and I'm trying to remember that Renae is still not old enough to consistently tell us each time she has to go potty so I need to take her often.

Did I mention we are also in the middle of moving back to the US?? Our place is a disaster right now. The past two weeks we've been packing, organizing and doing a LOT of throwing/giving things away. A lot of the major stuff is done and now it's mostly just getting things back to our company storage, packing up the trunks and suitcases and cleaning. Thankfully, we'll be in a hotel our last 2 nights so we can clean without having to also clean up after our daily lives.

So if the blog posts are lacking this week you know why: I'm a single mother with 2 small children, and I'm attempting to move this family of 4 back to the states with (hopefully) only 8 pieces of luggage. This should be an interesting week.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Three Kings Day

The night of January 5th is the day when those infamous 3 Kings come to town with gifts. Since Jesse and I didn't buy our kids anything, we thought we should go to where the Kings were and see if they had any for them.

Our parade viewing spot at the Plaza de Colon. (Can you see Columbus pointing west?)

Sammy just slept the whole time . .

Jesse bought popcorn for us to munch on while we waited for the parade to start.

Renae is ready!!

And this is how the parade started . . a dancer suspended by balloons! It was really cool!

Next came some dragons. Naturally . .

Brilliant! People brought umbrellas to catch candy thrown from the floats.

One of the floats . . .
We were right by a TV tower so the lights on the tower sometimes made it hard for me to get good pictures of the floats. Bear with me.

Finally Renae got some candy!

And Pocoyo showed up! Renae enjoyed seeing him.

I attempted at family shot . . oops.

Incase you are wondering . . . the theme was cultures of the world.

Entranced by the parade . . .

Even the Americans were represented! It was a riverboat with a dixie band.

People on stilts . . .

Cool face balloon . . .

Renae led the way home despite the fact that we were nowhere near our house.

Walking down the middle of Alcala . . . not something we can usually do!

The next day, January 6th is the day when kids open their presents from the kings. Lucky for us . . . the 3 Kings left some gifts for Renae and Sammy at my friend Tep's place.

Rafa cuts the roscon. Somewhere in there is a toy king and whoever gets it will have a year luck!

Unlucky for us . . . this cake didn't have one. Oops!

Sammy the nerd relaxin'.

Renae wasn't feeling so hot that day.

A Flamenco dress! We have her Halloween costume ready for this year.

Thanks Tep!

And Sammy got a full body bib. He needs it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Santa Has Been Fired . . .

Kids tell Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar what they would like as gifts.

January 6 is called Three Kings Day here in Spain. It marks the end of the Christmas season and represents the Three Kings or Wise Men who came to visit Jesus when he was born. Every year on January 5th, there is a large procession, or parade in every city, neighborhood, and town in Spain. The three kings deliver the gifts and on the morning of January 6th, children wake up to find gifts next to a pair of clean shoes they left out the night before. However if the shoes aren't clean . . . they get a lump of coal!

Just like our traditions with Christmas, no one actually gets lumps of coal (although you can buy candy coal as a joke!) and they also receive gifts that are much larger than their shoes. I've been told that some parents will put little candies in the kids shoes and set the bigger presents next to them.

This year, the Masson family is finally going to a Three Kings parade! Because I like to experience large crowds and big events we're off to the biggest one in the city tonight. I think Renae will really enjoy it. Of course we'll take pictures and I'll post them here later.

On a similar note . . . (Spoiler alert-this might ruin your enjoyment of the nativity scene or Matthew 2).We once heard a man speak who had interviewd hundreds of modern day persecuted Christans around the world. One man from an African country told how in his culture, they call the Three Kings/Wisemen the Three Witches, or the Three Sorcerers.

In any kingdom, the most dangerous position to be in is 2nd in line for the throne. Kings are always worried about coups or being killed so the person next in line can take the throne. Therefore, when the Three Kings showed up at Herod's palace announcing that they had come to seek the new king, Herod obviously became nervous. Although he kept quiet to his 3 visitors and told them to go and find this new baby king.

Thankfully . . . God intervened and told the Three Kings to go home a different route so that Herod would not know where Jesus was. Subsequently, thousands of innocent boys, ages 2 years old and younger were killed.

This is why one African man said his culture calls these three "wise"men the Three Witches because they were "dumb enough" (the presenter's words) to announce to the current King that a new King had been born, causing the deaths of so many little boys.

How's that for our nice little Christmas story? ;)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

Deer Teechur,
This wuz my furst Krismus vakachun and I rilly likd it.

I lurnd how to lay on my bely and lik the flor.

Then I wint to Caceres and my anty Paula held me lots. I lik her.

My sistur playd with the gurls. Boreen.

My mommy stil fed me. Whew.

Mommy put us in Krismus close.

I luvd been with my famly.

My mommy had a burthday and it was fun.

My sistur got to eet fun ice kreem. I did not lik that.

I lik my daddy.

I spent nu yeers eve with my "abwaylos."

I tok a nap there. I mised teo feday.

(Mommy's interjecting here . . .
Cile and Kari, this picture is for you. Can you guess where the chair is from?)

On Nu yeers day daddy wuz rily hapy. Becuz . . .

He got to watch futbal. I dont no hoo florida stat is, but they cheerd for them.
Thank yu for reeding my letter. Pleese give me a A.
Sincirly, Sammy