Wednesday, December 31, 2008

letters to a sister

Dear Abi,
These past few days as I have been going about some of the menial tasks of keeping home (like cleaning out that corner that all the odds and ends got tossed into while you were here - - because our precious hours together couldn't be wasted by doing too much tidying!) I have lovely memories to feast my thoughts on, like . . .

the runs we had together (just so you know, I totally let you and Gillian beat me up the gigantic hill)
you guys letting us drag you out into the cold night to see the Olentzero parade
the cheese platters (hooray for Gillian for bringing five varieties of French cheese across the border to us!)
the ice skating (how could it not make my heart glow to see Josu hanging gleefully between you and Nathaniel)
the late nights playing games
the dancing (by the way, those brown cords looked so much better on you than they do on me; I hope you took them with you)
the conversations - - the big group ones as well as the two or three huddled in a little corner sipping tea onesSelma bypassing everyone, every day to get to Nathaniel's lap
cooking together
and then the washing up
(and that time that you and Nathaniel called out for pizza on the day that I crawled into bed for a wee nap and ended up there for five hours)
haircuts in the kitchen
just being together
it was perfect!
aaaaaahhhhh, yes.
I knew your visit was going to be good, but it was even better than good.
Malachai summed it up nicely today when someone at the coffee shop asked him about his Christmas holiday, and he said that his favorite bit had been his aunt and uncle visiting.

much love from our home in Spain, to yours in England,

p.s. we miss you. and you guys are missing out on the great family fun that happens around here on a daily basis, like when Malachai stuck his finger down his throat last night and threw up because he was "just trying to see if he could touch the back of his neck"

p.p.s. we forgot to make fresh gingerbread; blast!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Eve in our neighborhood

So there is this local legend about a guy, Olentzero, who comes down from the mountains at Christmas time. the legend is kind of fuzzy. there seems to be confusion (even among the old timers here in Pamplona) about who exactly he was and what exactly he did. No one lets that keep them from making good parade out if it all, though, so this Christmas Eve, we all bundled up to track down Olentzero as he paraded through our city streets.
I made up this little chart, as I thought it might help you and I to understand Olentzero just a bit better, comparing and contrasting him to someone we know . . .

Santa: Spends his year heading up the toy productions with his lovely little Mrs. and the elves
Olentzero: spends his year mining coal and living the life of a recluse in his mountain cabin

Santa: travels from the North Pole on Christmas Eve
Olentzero: makes his trip down from the mountains . . . also on the night of the 24th

Santa: is accompanied by his reindeer . . . and maybe an elf or two.
Olentzero: is joined by a herd of sheep, a couple of oxen, a chestnut roaster, and a whole slew of accordion players. (and some Basque protesters, demanding more humane treatment for those who they feel have been unjustly arrested by the Spanish government for supposed involvement in terrorist activities)Santa: eats cookies put out for him
Olentzero: passes out bread and goat cheese, and roasted chestnuts (look, here is the cart that holds the chestnut roaster. all we had to do was run up behind it and put out our hands, and we would get chestnuts!)
Santa: has rosy cheeks (I suspect from the North Pole chill)
Olentzero: has rosy cheeks (I suspect from one too many bottles of wine - - it's what the stories tell us, anyway!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

hello, my name is Malachai

I am five years old, and I live in Spain.
I speak both English and Spanish fluently.
I speak two words of French.
I am very proud of this fact.
that is why every time I met someone new in the United States this summer, I told them that I could speak French and then taught them how to say bonjour and au revoir.
I am one smart cookie. I mean, croissant. that's three words.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

we dragged ourselves off the couches yesterday and went out for an afternoon stroll where:
Joshua told Josu to let go of the pole because that is where the dogs go pee,
Josu encouraged me to "come on"
Malachai got just a little more comfy,there was general familial bonding,
Selma cried a alot,
we played a (not so rowdy) game of three flies up
appropriate consequences were given at appropriate times
Joshua taught Malachai how to look good.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

lovely and glow-y

we put up the tree last week. isn't it glow-y lovely?
it's a good thing that we put it up last week, because this week we are all fevered, coughing, sniffling, and generally bad humored . . . which is probably why:
  • I almost cried at lunch when Malachai prayed fervently that God would help him and Josu like the soup and not complain when they had to eat it
  • Josu's songs-per-day ratio has dipped severely
  • Selma is back to nursing four times a day
  • Malachai complains of "fuzzy brain"
  • Joshua hasn't been jumping out from behind the doors to startle whatever unsuspecting family member might be passing that way
aaahhh, but we do enjoy laying on the couch and just gazing at our lovely, glow-y tree. good thing we put it up last week.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I didn't understand a word they were saying, but boy were they cute!

Joshua and Rachel were reviewing the vocabulary from their Euskera class over lunch today.
there is something you need to know . . . when we moved to Pamplona 6, almost 7 years ago we had no clue how heavily influenced the city was by its Basque heritage. So recently, in an attempt to understand our city (and our neighbors) just a little bit better, Joshua and Rachel have nobly signed themselves up for Euskera classes.
right, so, I was saying . . .

Brave Rachel reviewing Euskera vocabulary.
Dreamy Joshua reviewing vocabulary (oh baby, he makes my heart flutter when he speaks in a different language!).

Well, as I sat and chewed happily on my rice and lentils (it's what we've been eating around here in between thanksgiving leftovers) and listened to the super cool, culturally adept Joshua and Rachel hashing out their Euskera, Malachai piped in with some helpful Euskera suggestions.
and I was so proud of them.
then Josu started singing the days of the week song.
in Euskera.
cute kid.
and then Selma gave a little Euskera baby babble. I'm sure that it was just like the little Basque babies do it.
sigh. I love my family.