Archive for the 'Coming Home' Category

Who took the Feliz out of America’s Navidad?

Karie on Dec 11th 2008 03:56 am

I miss Spain right now, and Christmas is rubbing it in.  I absolutely loved the holidays in Barcelona… The lights strung across hundreds of streets throughout the city, dozens of children waiting on a street corner to talk to one of the 3 Kings (think Santa booth, except with a King, and not in a mall), the Christmas market in front of the Cathedral, the crowds bustling in the streets, minus the bad attitudes that the holidays seem to cause in the U.S…. I actually even miss needing to wear a coat and hat. Well, not that much, but I have my moments.

Christmas just seemed easier there.  Maybe that’s because we chose not to exchange any gifts last year, and my dad was the one who had to lug our tree home from the Christmas market, but still, it was simpler.  People actually enjoyed it, whereas it seems like the Christmas spirit in America diminishes with each passing year.  When and why did the holidays become a more hassle and less happy? 

I think every American needs a Caganer. Seriously people, lighten up. Stop shooting each other in toy stores and beating your crazy neighbors with lawn ornaments. Enough. It’s the most freaking wonderful time of the year!!!

Ok, I do acknowledge that this season can be stressful, so for those of you who do not own a Caganer and are unable to travel to Catalunya this month, I leave you with two of my favorite resources for restoring the merriness of Christmas:

1. Luke 2:1-20.
2. Elf, the movie. I recommend that you watch it at least once a year, and remember, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”

“Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas), Feliz Navidad (Noel Noel), Feliz Navidad, Prospero Año y Felicidad…”  C’mon, sing with me…

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See For Yourself

Karie on Nov 17th 2008 11:48 pm

Considering my lack of blogging, I figured the best way to sum up our life over the last month or so would be through a photo blog (phlog?).  Here are a few pictures, but you can click on the View Gallery link to see more of our house, and other random happenings in San Diego.

First: nuestro casa.  Ah, furniture.  It was a slow process, but we’re mostly put together now.  We’re still loving our neighborhood, with oh so many coffee shops yet to discover, and Penny’s still loving her yard.  Every day she’s having a new adventure… chasing opossums, rolling in the dirt, or finding a new stick to bring into the house when mom’s not looking.

Second: four thousand words worth of random pictures.

Finally: why did we choose to move back to San Diego versus one of the many reasonably priced cities in the USA?  Oh yeah, it’s because we like to drink Slurpees on the beach in November.

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In With the New (and the used)

Karie on Oct 7th 2008 10:36 pm

Good news!  We have a home again!  After nearly a month of bouncing around between family & friends, we moved into a little house.  We had sold most of our furniture when we moved to Spain, so moving in was a cinch!  We kept our beds, most kitchen supplies, some decorative and sentimental items, etc., but we’re pretty much starting from scratch furniture wise.

So far we’ve added a new couch, dining table and a couple of pieces for the bedroom, but we’re still looking a little bare.  As soon as we get a little more settled and get rid of some of these boxes I’ll post some pictures.  Until then, I’ll just have to describe the coolest things about our new pad:

  • The neighborhood.  About a block away is an adorable little street lined with cafes, restaurants and shopping.  After being vehicle-free in Barcelona for the last year, it was important to us to live in an area where we can walk/bike to most things we need. (except we don’t have bikes yet!)
  • A yard for Penny Lane. She’s been spoiled living with my parents for the last year, along with their other pets and a swimming pool, so we’re glad we don’t have to cram her into a little patio after all of that. There’s room to bask in the sunshine and fetch a ball, which happens to be two of her favorite activities. What more could a lovable 4-legged girl ask for?
  • All the houses around here were built in the 1920’s.  While it’s a few hundred years newer than our flat in Barcelona, it’s still pretty old by American standards, and we like that.  History is relative!

Now for Some Sad News
It’s about my laptop.  It died.

For quite some time now there’s been a light pink stripe running through the screen.  Sometimes when you turn it on the screen displays various colors of stripes.  It was lovely, really.  I could enjoy the pretty design as long as I wanted, then if I twisted it slightly from the top of the monitor, it would return to normal.

Last night, while watching an episode of Boston Legal from 3 seasons ago, it suddenly went black.  No warning, no wrong movements, it was just gone. Quickly and peacefully, but not without great pain on my part.

“In with the new?”

Not this time.  Scott was able to put my hard drive into his old laptop, which is about as worn out as mine.  His doesn’t display any pretty stripes on the screen, but it does have another unique feature: the screen doesn’t stand up.  It just flops all the way open or all the way closed.  I currently have my purse propped up behind my computer to hold the screen up so I can see it.

I guess we’ll add ‘laptop’ to our shopping list.  Along with bikes, desk, bookshelves, coffee table, TV, jeans that don’t have holes worn in them, etc.  If I hadn’t just come from a fabulous year abroad that daunting list might bother me, but I’m pretty ok with it.  Not only was our time there worth the sacrifice, but it also taught me that I can live without that stuff for as long as necessary.  If I survived some of the hostels and fiestas we experienced over the last year, then a few more months of living like a college student won’t kill me!

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God Bless America… and Spain

Karie on Sep 17th 2008 05:44 pm

I can’t believe we’ve been back in the USA for almost 2 weeks now.  Sorry it’s taken me so long to send an update, but here are a few happenings since our return to American soil…

The discovery of STOK
We arrived in San Francisco on a Thursday evening, and my parents were flying out at 6:00am the next morning for my niece’s 2nd birthday party.  (I know, daughter’s homecoming from a year abroad vs. granddaughter’s birthday… I lose.  It’s cool though, if you saw my adorable niece you’d understand.)

We woke up well before our alarm (thanks to jetlag) to drop my parents off at the airport. On our way home we stopped at a gas station, where we discovered the following:


Coffee just isn’t enough?  Need a little extra kick in your Red Bull?
Like that shaky feeling when there’s more caffeine running through your veins than blood?
Don’t worry fellow Americans, we have found a solution for your sleep-deprived,
over-worked, high blood-pressured selves:
STOK

Based on warnings such as “Limit 2/day” and “Not for Those Under 18”, we opted not to test this liquid gold, but still had to take one from the gas station coffee stand, well, just because.

Meeting New People
Meet Davis James. His cuteness speaks for itself.

He met us at the airport with a sign that said, “Hola godparents. Nice to Meet You!” The next day we chowed on Taco Bell and went swimming before he had to catch his flight back to Denver, with mom & dad (Devon & Jason). We wuv him.

 “It’s a little slow going uphill, but downhill it’s great.”
These were the words spoken to us as we were departing for a test drive in a ‘92 Honda Civic that would soon become our new ride.  It’s a far cry from our parent’s cars, which we have been borrowing since returning back to the US, but it’s actually perfect for us right now.  We bought it from a family friend, who is its original owner and kept it in (mostly) great shape.  Except for this.  Oh yeah, and except for that.  Oh, and one more little thing…

Ok, so it’s nothing to brag about, but we’re still pretty excited about it.  It’s a car, it was only priced in the 3-digits, and it runs well.  That satisfies our checklist for now.  Who really needs a side view mirror anyway?

Homeless… again
This is our 3rd time to search for a new home in less than a year.  It will be our 7th move in 5 years of marriage…. Although that number could quickly jump to 12 if we count all the times we’ve bounced back and forth between friends & families’ guest rooms. (Thanks parents & Zellers!) 

The few items that we didn’t sell before moving to Spain were kept in a storage unit in Stockton.  After hanging out with my family for about a week, we packed up a U-Haul, the 3 of us (Scott, me, Penny Lane) crammed into the cab, and we headed south.  Talk about déjà vu.  From there we moved some things into a friend’s garage, and the rest into a storage unit in San Diego.  As soon as we find an apartment – which hopefully will be very soon – we’ll rent yet another U-Haul and move our stuff again.  I have a feeling we’re going to have even less stuff by the time we’re finished, because I might just throw entire boxes directly into the dumpster so that I don’t have to face moving them again.

Culture Shock?
Everyone asks us that, and I wish I could tell you exciting stories about being freaked out by SUVs, the cereal aisle, and general excess of American culture, but the truth is, every Metropolitan city in the world has its share.  While there are many aspects of the European lifestyle that we admire and plan to continue no matter where we live – and aspects of American culture that we vow never to fall prey to again – at the end of the day, both are wonderful cultures and people are people. 

So what did catch us off guard upon returning to the USA?  The size of the refrigerators.  Being able to have full length conversations with strangers.  My shoe collection (I forgot just how fabulous it is).  The fact that there’s a huge purple 5 on the back of the new $5 bill.  Penny Lane now grazes on her kibble throughout the morning rather than wolfing it all down in 2 seconds flat.  You can no longer hold a cell phone up to your ear while driving in CA, but it’s still ok to text.  A few other random things.

Overall, we’ve been having a great time!  We’ve had the pleasure of spending lots of time with family and friends, and continuing to postpone the reality of home chores, cubicles, rush hour, etc., as long as possible.  But yes, of course, we miss Spain, and all of our friends there.  What excites me the most is that I’ve confirmed how much I truly love both places.  Barcelona or San Diego are, in my opinion, two of the best cities in the world, and I’ve been blessed to call them both home.

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