Sunday, 28 September 2008

Drip, drip, drop...

It has been raining since Wednesday. There is typically a torrential down pour throughout the evening hours. (And a worried Jeff thinking about the leaks in the church.) I am very grateful for the cooler temperatures...we've actually been using a blanket at night, and the boys are wearing 'real' pajamas to bed not just diapers. And I personally don't mind wet weather. But keeping the boys inside is driving me nuts!

On Saturday we decided to take a drive to Javea/Xabia (depending on what language you speak Valenciano or Spanish) to just get out of the house. It was sunny on that side of the mountain, and Bram was extremely excited to find a McDonald's play place. (Future conversations: You lived overseas, so what kind of food did you eat? "Chicken nuggets.")

We also ended up at the mall to get a few new pairs of pants for Bram. I don't have any 'warm' weather clothing in his size, so we had to bite the bullet and get some. Toddler fashion in Spain is hysterical (to me). My nearly 3 year old looks like a little GQ model.

There is a rumor that the sun will return to the Costa Blanca later this week. Until then the Carr household will be playing with markers, play doh, and mommy's cell phone.

I realized that I've been putting quite a few pics of, here's a pic of Jonas from our huge bubble bath fight tonight.

Friday, 26 September 2008


Some women are blessed with the gift of being 'stay at home mothers'. They have the choice of staying at home, have been given the Divine token of patience, and have chosen to be at home with their little ones.

It's usually when I consider these women, and the women who want to stay home but can't financially afford it, that I begin to feel a little inadequate in my mothering. I could stay home. There is no "rule" that says I have to go into the office, I could fulfill the majority of my 'requirements' from the computer at home. Though I have learned that the days I do stay home with the boys, it is nearly, strike that, it is impossible for me to get anything done beyond playing with the boys and making sure they don't destroy themselves or our belongings. Throw in the time it requires to change diapers, wipe noses, make snacks, and you've got a full day. (I'm very sure there are some women reading this and saying "And, your point is??")

The boys have been in day care all week this week, and I have been feeling a mixture of relief and guilt over the whole situation. They are struggling a bit with the language/culture issue. (Jonas won't respond to the Spanish pronounciation of his name. And Bram tells me every day "I don't speak Spanish.") I feel guilty for putting them in a place where only one girl speaks a few phrases in English. But I feel relieved in the sense that I have a chance to get involved in the daily operations of the church.

I have felt like a more patient mommy and a more attentive mommy this week. But I continue to rationalize the guilt: They only go from 8:30 to 1:30 (typical Spanish work hours), so they're not even in there the whole day. Bram needs to learn Spanish in order to start school next year. Jonas has been cutting teeth so that's why he's been cranky with the day care ladies....etc, etc, etc.

I don't presume that I'm the only one capable of taking care of my boys during the day. And I think it's good for them to be around other children, something of which there is not a lot of in our church (yet). I know that this transition phase for them shall pass, and they'll probably grow to love it, but it's still hard not to feel like a terrible parent when you leave a crying 2 year old behind in the care of another....

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The rain in Spain stays mainly in...

No, no it doesn't. Actually I don't even know where to find a plain here. But there is plenty of rain. Today, as we drove around trying to find a parking spot close to the church building I jumped out to buy a cake from the bakery nearby. (It was for the 'Mums & Tots' program on Wednesday mornings, though I probably could have eaten the entire thing...but that's another posting subject alltogether) As I stepped out I realized I had made a bad decision. The mid calf deep water running down the street was rushing so fast that I nearly tumbled over. Denia is situated at the base of a mountain, sort of. And our church building is near by the highest point, the castle. So all the streets are on an upward/downward angle, and as I learned today, to aide in rushing the water back to the Mediterrean sea... I also learned that winter in our area consists of torrential down pours on a regular basis....but at least it's a lot cooler than before...

The ministry here is primarily geared towards British expatriates that live in the Denia area. So, being missionaries in Spain, we could 'survive' without ever really speaking Spanish a great deal. So there are various programs during the week that are only in English.

One such program is the 'Mums & Tots'. It's a group of women who drive in to have a big play date once a week. It is a flourishing program, and I am grateful that something so similiar to my own MOPS experience already exists here! Today a new mother joined us! (Possibly to get in out of the rain, possibly to get her 14 month old to expend some excess energy. *side note: she was 4 days past her due date with her second son....) Anyways, I learned the "proper" way to make tea...and to stop asking if they wanted milk in it...yes they wanted milk, you can't drink tea without milk, and "You put honey in your tea???"....

The boys have been doing incredibly well at day care. Each day is a little less traumatic than the last. (It's only been 3 days) And this process is slightly necessary in order to prepare Bram to start school next fall, since no day care will take him after this year. Apparently the boys do even better during the day when separated, and the ladies taking care of them always stop me to comment on how well the boys eat....Jonas is still having some trouble during the day (off and on crying) and Bram every morning so far has asked "You're coming back, right, Mommy?" I am extremely grateful that at the end of the night the boys are so tired that they go straight to sleep!! I'll keep paying just for that alone! The employees are obviously used to working with nervous, foreign parents. They are very patient and kind, but at the same time they basically tell me to just leave in the morning. :)

I seem to need to remind myself that there will be a bit of a learning curve with everything here. For example, cooking: I bought what I believed to be pre-cooked chicken nuggets (it said precooked and frozen on the box) to fry and eat with our Mac & Cheese from the states, only to bite into a raw piece of chicken. I think part of God's plan for our family in this situation to learn a new measure of His peace in all aspects of life (even in raw chicken). "Peace that exceeds anything we can understand" I've been thinking about what His peace really means and what it looks like. I don't think it means I am in a "hippy daze" at all times, never letting things ruffle my feathers, but I do believe that it means there's a deeper peace that is evident at all times. I was thinking this morning about our family verse and what it means that "His peace will guard your hearts and minds". What does my heart need protecting from? How does it guard my mind? I think those things are guarded by peace, in that I know that nothing can destroy them as long as I live in Christ Jesus. Things may catch me off guard (I spit the chicken back out), but they cannot tear me apart. Water can seep into our building through the roof and walls during the rain storm, and I can be upset about it, but the peace of Christ guarding my heart and mind reminds me in that moment that this conquer my peace in Christ Jesus.....anyways, I'm not even sure all of that made sense....

**I would like to take a public moment to say how excited I am to have all these new friends!!!! I write this blog, and people are actually reading it! That's a lot of pressure.....I hope I'm up to the task...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

How to Make Friends on A Playground in Spain

Step 1: Head to the park at an hour when your body seems to be saying "Isn't this dinner time?"

Step 2: Bring your own soccer ball.

Step 3: Call everyone "Buddy" or "Friend".

English not necessary.

This evening we took a walk to a small fenced in playground area a bit of a distance from our park. We were looking to use up some toddler energy with the walk, and give them a chance to play on actual playground equipment.

Bram wanted to bring his "special ball" that Grandma sent back from the states for him. Mind you, this fenced in area is just big enough to have a slide, a swing set, and a couple of benches. There's not a lot of room to kick or chase a ball. But there was no arguing with Bram.

It was so endearing to watch him start up a game with a couple of kids, I guess from the neighborhood. Bram doesn't care if you speak his language. He doesn't care if he fully understands your's. If you're willing to play, you are now his friend.

Tonight, as we went around the dinner table sharing the best part of our day (another family tradition we're cooking up) Bram said "I played with my friend at the park. Yep. That was the best part of my day."

Friday, 19 September 2008

Take a number, to wait to take a number...

It has been a blur of government offices this week! We registered with town hall and then drove the hour to the "county seat" in order to apply for residency. Only to find out through much explanation later, that we will have to drive the 5 hour trip to Madrid in order to complete our residency paperwork....::sigh::....perhaps it will improve our disposition if we treat it as a mini-vacation.....

We have decided to place the boys in an "infant school" here in town. Children begin school at age 3 in our area, but I didn't feel comfortable placing Bramwell in school when he still didn't understand the language....side bar: he is learning very quickly! He has started using phrases like "muy bien" and "chau" on a very regular basis!....So we decided to place them in a situation where they would learn Spanish and be prepared for school. It will also afford us the opportunity to work in the office and dedicate time to office stuff, rather than bringing the office to the house.

While in the States, they went to daycare while we were at the office. (Only 2 days a week, it's all we could afford) And once we got home, it was dedicated family time. We rarely brought our computers home. We often did errands or visitation, but usually when we were in the house we weren't trying to get work done. Then when we were awaiting our visas in order to take up this appointment in Spain, we had no work to do, so the boys had us all to themselves. Now, since we can't take them to the office, we are always doing work here at the house, and I think they hate that we're not paying 100% attention to them (it's the best rationalization I can come up with for their behavior)... Perhaps by getting a chance for the boys to use up some energy, make new friends, and us getting the majority of our office work done at the office, it will make for better times to be had at home.

Just so this post isn't incredibly long, here's a quick update:

1. Jonas had to go to the dentist this morning. After a chase scenario over a toy involving Bram, Jonas has broken both front teeth on the rock solid floors of Spain. Good thing, it'll fix 6 to 7 years. ( Bram and I have been repeating all day: Nice with our words, nice with our hands)

2. We began our weekly nursing home visit ministry. A good portion of them speak Valenciano ( a local language that is not Spanish), so I will be learning a few choruses in a new language. The boys always have loved nursing home visits, not that they have had much choice ( I have taken them to nursing homes ever since I was pregnant.), and the people always LOVE seeing the boys and their friendly smiles.

3. We had a set of sofas that was literally falling apart. We had to cover the cushions with sheets because they were so ripped that stuffing was coming out. Well, God answered our prayers! A gentlemen was looking to get rid of a leather couch set, and agreed to let us have it for the home here!! So, now we have a blue leather sofa and 2 matching chairs!

So much to do....

Friday, 12 September 2008

Jesus, take the wheel...

In the states, I drove a maxi-van (12-15 passenger) on a daily basis. I parked it. I passed people in it. I even.....dare, I say it....went OVER the speed limit in it. So why is it, you put me in a new context and I am barely capable of driving a "regular" mini van? (Now, granted these vans are entirely too boxy to be considered a normal van, but it only holds 8 people, thus making it smaller than a maxi-van)

I drove the boys and myself to Eroski (Spain's version of Super-Walmart). As we pulled out of the parking space directly in front of our apartment building, I prayed "Dear Jesus, please guide us there safely and bring us back to a parking space in front again." The GPS loyally guided me to the supermercado. And I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to do something more than walk by the shore or circle the apartment building again.

I was feeling so confident in my driving skills at the moment that I decided we would have McDonald's for lunch. Parking was there once again. We ate, we played in the air conditioning (a luxury), and then we left.

I glanced at my watch, realizing that it is now Spainard lunch time (2:00ish) and we live above a restaurant. I knew my chances for parking were possibly going to be slim. But as we pulled up, there it was: the exact same parking spot I had left 2 hours prior!

Don't worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He's done!

Three good things about the morning so far:
1. It's a cooler day than yesterday.
2. We found a place where Bram can kick and chase after his ball.
3. It's new sheet night. (Carr speak for freshly laundered sheets)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Memory Verse 2008, part 2

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again: Rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all that you do. Remember the Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He's done. Then you will experience God's peace which exceeds anything we can understand.

Philippians 4: 4 - 6

We have been making a habit of reciting/memorizing this verse together as a family during dinner together. Little did I realize how perfect God's choice of a family verse would be when I decided we would learn this one together.

All throughout the day little snippets of the verse will come to mind. And I can see Bram and all his hand movements in my mind too....

Saturday, 6 September 2008

...the fire...

It's true. We had a fire in our apartment. It was completely my fault. I don't know how to BBQ. 5 years of officership and several attempts that always end disastrously should have been on the fore front of my mind. ( I burnt my eyebrows & eyelashes once...) But nonetheless, this will go down in the Carr Chronicles as the worst disaster with a BBQ, and on the top 10 list of Mom's all time bloopers...

It has been a rough week in the Carr household. Last Saturday, we nearly burned the apartment down. (In truth, we lost very little and can count out the miraculous ways God saved our familiy from a much larger disaster! And now we know our neighbors. :) ) Sunday, it was such an emotional day (mostly because of the fire, mixed with a little transition stress coming to the surface) that we barely made it through the 2 services at church. (At the end of the English service, the congregation gathered around us to pray over us.) Tuesday, the insurance company came to inspect the damage only to inform us later that they don't believe personal property is covered under insurance here, only official properties. Thursday, we went to Camp Saron to enjoy their lovely pool and I fell and now my tail bone is excruciatingly painful......aaaaaahhhhh! When you hit bottom, you begin to realize that there is no where to go but up....please, Lord, let this be the bottom.

I picked up my "Mission Prep" binder and was flipping through the discussion notes from "culture shock". And realized we fit those perameters. We're normal, well, at least according to the manual... It's always a bit of a relief to be reminded that what you are experiencing is normal in the grand scheme of things. (Thanks, Karen, for parenting normalcy reminders)

It a time of stress, I have decided to reinstitute a Carr household event. At the very end of the evening, just before we're going to turn the lights off and call it a day, Jeff and I will list three good things that happened during the course of the day. Now, sometimes ice cream and chocolate are the first two, but it gives us a chance to make ourselves realize that the entire day was not a "bad" day, regardless of what may have happened.

My 3 for today:
1. We got to talk to family via Skype!
2. The instant paella (sacreligious, I know) was actually pretty good.
3. We took a walk along to shore as a family.

For those who may actually read this post, I ask for prayer for Jeff as he returns to the States next week to finish up the boys' visa paperwork. I have a lot of fear and anxiety about his trip and my being alone (mostly irrational ones, but still there nonetheless). Your prayers are greatly appreciated on our behalf.