Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Garden

After church on Sunday, we went to Vivero's - El Puerto de Santa Maria's famous gardening store.

Spain is known for its' flower gardens and patios filled with potted plants and flowers. Even homes without backyards or gardens have lovely potted flowers on their balconies and/or window panes.

So, when in Spain...

We bought tools, pots, flowers, mulch...

Here's before...

And after!!!

I love my new garden!


So, while I was in the midst of unpacking the madness...boxes husband came home with a little surprise...

An 8 week old, chocolate Labrador puppy...

So, after I prayed and repented for wanting to kill my husband, I looked into his eyes and was smitten (the puppy's eyes - not Johann's) :-)

He really is such a wonderful addition to our family and we all love him to pieces!

Welcome Isaiah Ezekiel Aaron - aka Zeke!

Household Goods are HERE!!!

After almost 3 months in Spain, our household goods have finally arrived!!!

There were 6 giant crates and 4 smaller truck sized boxes...what in the WORLD was I thinking bringing all this stuff? Particularly all these kitchen appliances that can only work with 120 voltage... Ay yi yi!

There were 5 men bringing boxes in and you should have seen their faces every time we'd send them up to Las Ninas room - ay yi yi! Those little girls have WAY too much stuff! And climbing 4 flights of stairs...and these boxes were HEAVY - those men probably thought we were ALL nuts!

Well, better them than me!

But, YAY!!! The girls were SO excited - it was like Christmas all over again! I finished unpacking and setting up their playroom first (to keep them busy while I tackled the rest of the house). They loved it and are still having a ball in there!

The men assembled our beds, put our dressers back together, but left the rest of the unpacking to me.

It's still a work in progress...

The girls are sharing a room - they wanted BUNK BEDS!!! And since Spanish rooms are a bit smaller than typical American size bedrooms, only the bed and 1 dresser fit in their all their toys, books, dress up clothes, etc. had to go into the 3rd floor attic which we converted into a playroom.

My office is on the 2nd floor next to the girls' room. Johann and my bedroom is across the hall. Johann has a "mancave" in the basement. And there is a guest suite down there there as well.

The movers came back a week later to pick up the empty boxes and things are JUST about put together...

There's still some work to be done...

What was I THINKING bringing all this stuff to Spain?!!!

Now on to the rest of the house...

Ay yi yi!!!

Memorial Day in Lisbon

We left early Saturday morning - programmed the GPS and started the 6 hour trip to Lisbon, Portugal. It was a beautiful ride with rolling vineyards, sprawling farmlands with mulling cows, herds of sheep, goats and horses...miles of olive trees, rivers and lakes, bridges and small pueblos...we rocked out to the Oliver and Company and the Princess and the Frog soundtracks, and everything from Michael Jackson, Alicia Keys, Kirk Franklin and Israel Houghton.

Before too long (but not without paying a ridiculous 'cross the bridge' fee of 36 euros! We found ourselves in bumper to bumper traffic to cross the bridge into the city of Lisbon...and what a bridge it was! It looked exactly like the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and I remembered reading in my guidebook that it was built by the same architect.

In addition to the bridge ahead, to the left we saw the huge statue of Jesus called 'Christ the King' which sits on the hills overlooking the city a la the one in Rio de Janiero. Lisbon's was built as a tribute to God's grace and favor keeping them out of World War II.

We drove through the city and followed the GPS into the neighboring town of Cascais where our hotel was. Nestled in a small woods this hotel was a little piece of heaven. After such a long ride, we just wanted to chill out and stretch our legs, so we got to the room, put on our bathing suits and headed down to the pool. It was cooler outside than it looked, so we took a quick dip in the pool and RAN back to our hotel room for pjs and room service.

Ordering was a little tricky since we didn't speak Portugese...and after Johann tried using the online translation tools, we called the hotel front desk for some help! We ended up ordering some Brazilian food since we were in Portugal...and called it a night with plans to wake up early in the morning to sightsee in Lisbon.

Our room came with complimentary breakfast in the glass restaurant. The fresh fruit and baked bread selections were delicious. We became specifically fond of this kiwi, mango and honeydew melon salad. The Portuguese coffee was a hit for Johann and I too and the staff were SO friendly and helpful.

We drove into downtown Lisbon and headed for the Yellow Tour Bus which does several tours throughout Lisbon. We chose the 'classic tour' hitting all the highlights. It was a fun way to see the beautiful city. Toward the end of the trip, we switched seats so R&R could ride in the front - they thought it was a roller coaster - and rode 'hands up high' as we sped down the hilly streets of Lisbon.

After the bus ride, we went to the Hard Rock cafe and called Granny and Grampy! It was fun to have a little piece of America in Portugal. We ordered hamburgers and a ridiculously huge sampler platter with every American appetizer you could think of!

Back at the hotel, Johann sent me off to the spa for a pedicure and he took the girls back to the pool.

Sunday, we checked out of the hotel after another delicious breakfast and drove down the coast of Estoril to Lisbon. There were enormous mansions along the coast, a beautiful castle, lighthouses, bridges and a quaint little town before we were back in the Belem area of Lisbon where we stopped for a bite to eat, some pictures at the Belem Tower, and some souvenirs and before the trip back home.

Lisbon was absolutely beautiful, and we had a wonderful Memorial Day!


Before we left for Spain, the children's department at our church (Sunrise church in Rialto - - awesome ministry - check it out!!!) was starting up a program for the elementary kids going through the book, 'Passing the Baton' by Grant Edwards. Its a 10 lesson program for parents and their children, guiding them into a meaningful relationship with Jesus and teaching them about discipleship.

I signed up for the program even though I knew we wouldn't be there for the 10 weeks and spoke to the leader about my plan to save the book for when Johann came home so we could do it as a family in Spain.

Well, now that we're all settled into our new home, we have started the lessons and the first was such a huge blessing to us, I thought I'd share it.

The lesson was on Trust, describing the child's special place in the family of God and the great adventure He has planned for her. The first exercise was telling Reese we had $5.00 for her and that she could have it to buy whatever she wanted IF she could find it...then we proceeded to blindfold her, put socks on her hands, put her ipod and headphones on, and a Popsicle in her she couldn't hear, see, feel or taste the money in order to find it....then slowly, we took away the DISTRACTIONS from her, ending with the blindfold and she of course, immediately found the money. Then we talked about how God has amazing gifts for us too, but we can't find them or use them if we are too distracted with our toys, or favorite movies or other friends, etc. to hear what He is telling us to do, or where He is telling us to go.

Next we talked about trust. Why should we trust that God's heart toward us is good? Why should we follow His way instead of going with what we think is best? Well, the answer is very simple...because God is God. Luckily for us though, God knows that we're human and sometimes have trouble with faith. And because He knows these things about us, He, in His infinite wisdom and love for us does what some would consider unthinkable...He proves Himself to us (the psalm says "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good" - try Him out, so to speak; and see for yourself!) So, He showers us with his love and care, He provides for our needs and tops it off each night with beautiful sun sets and a starry sky. He shows us over and over how much He cares for us and even when we blow it, He gives us another chance.

So, the exercise for this lesson had us read a story about two young girls who were mountain climbing and after a sudden snow storm hit, were caught on a cliff and told to jump onto an unseen ledge below. It was a leap of faith for them to take the word of the park ranger, but they took the chance and jumped and landed safely on the ledge where they could wait out the storm until help would arrive.

We then had Reese stand on a chair and blind folded her. She knew her dad was standing behind her and she just had to fall backward off the chair and he would catch her. Reese was a little skeptical...she was not in a hurry to jump, even though Johann was physically touching her, and telling her he would catch her and not to worry. (How often do we do this? When there are things we are afraid to do because we aren't sure that God's promises to us are true (that He'll never leave us nor forsake us) - we think, if we jump and He might not catch us)...

Well, Reese and Johann came to a compromise...she got to take the blindfold off (but kept her eyes closed) and then she felt more comfortable jumping. She finally jumped and of course Johann caught her. But, before you judge her, think about how often we ask God for compromises to His requests of us? And, God is patient with us, gaining our trust in the little things so we'll trust Him in the big things. I'm SO glad God is patient with us.

Lastly, Rayna wanted a turn! This turned into an even greater lesson about being a good testimony. Rayna had seen her dad successfully catch her sister so she climbed right up on the chair, blindfold and all, and jumped, no coercion needed. Of COURSE her dad would catch her! I love her faith!

Our witness/testimony is so important as we share how God has worked in our lives so that others will trust Him too. I love these little girls and am so glad that we are all learning to trust God a little more each day!

Monday, June 7, 2010


Now that we had Blanca, we wanted to test her wheels! So, Johann called me from work on Friday morning (after Easter week) asking me to pack up - that he'd booked a hotel room in Seville (sounds like Seh-vee-yah in Spanish) for the weekend!

We left around 4pm on Friday evening and our GPS had us in downtown Seville in 65 minutes exactly!

After we checked into the hotel, we took a taxi into the city center for dinner and an evening stroll. Around the corner from the restaurant was the incredible Cathedral of Seville - the world's largest Gothic structure - and arguably one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe. It's ridiculously huge and was breathtaking, all lit up against the night sky.

There were musicians playing on the street and the girls were having a ball.

The next morning, after eating some paella for lunch,

we went back to tour the church (which houses Christopher Columbus' tomb and an interesting replica of the head of John the Baptist :-) ), went outside into the Orange groves and then climbed the 37 floors to the top of the Giraldi Tower.

The views from the top were stunning.

There was much to see, but we decided we'd make a return trip to check out the Alcazar palace and some of the other sights and drove over to the Feria grounds to play! But, not before picking up some Sevilliana dresses for Reese and Rayna! My girls LOVE to dress up, so they were in 7th heaven!

Feria in Spain is an annual festival that takes place in various towns typically in the weeks following Easter. Seville's Feria we learned, is always the week after Easter and Rota's Feria (the town where the base is) is the following week...followed by El Puerto de Santa Maria (where we live)'s basically, a month long celebration every weekend!

The Feria's take place on these huge fair grounds and carnival rides are brought in, huge tents are erected with restaurants built inside, hundreds of horse drawn carriages line the streets - filled with ladies dressed in beautiful Sevilliana dresses (named for the town of Seville), people singing and dancing, and children having the time of their lives.

(And apparently fireworks on the closing night - or MORNING - as we learned a few weeks later when Feria was in Puerto and we woke up to the sound of explosions - and looked out our window to see a fireworks show to rival Disneyland on the 4th of July but at 1:30am (YES, 1:30AM)...

I digress...

It was a short but memorable trip and we are excited to go back soon.