There’s no place like “home”

Our two-month “vacation” in Spain is coming to an end. We’ve been in La Rioja region of Spain, where Marta’s dad lives, for the past two weeks, and tomorrow we’re headed to Madrid for the weekend. We fly “home” on Tuesday.

And at this point we’re both ready to be “home.” Overall it’s been a relaxing and fun trip, and we’ve done lots: toured castles, monasteries, wineries, and cathedrals; bathed in mountain streams, oceans and community pools; celebrated several patron saints; eaten and drank way to much; watched Frida learn to crawl and pull herself up and Nico become obsessed with Catholic saints and try blood sausage.

We’ve also gotten to spend time with Marta’s parents, niece and nephew, aunts and uncles and way too many “cousins” to count or remember (one of my frequent questions here has been, “So how is he/she related to you?”).

But we’ve also had very little time for just the two of us. And I, for one, miss having my own space, my own kitchen, my own alone time. So we’ve started to say recently how excited we are to get “home” next week.

But by “home,” we mean a house we’ve never lived in in a city we’ve only visited. Because, in case I didn’t tell you dear readers, we’ve moved! We no longer live in Lubbock! But, to save money, when we moved out of our house in Lubbock in May, we put all of our belonging in a storage unit in Arizona and then promptly flew to Spain for two months.

We rented a nice house in Tempe, Arizona, before we left, and our lease starts on July 25. So I guess when I say “home,” I mean that house. Though it feels a little odd to use a word like “home” for a place we’ve never lived.

So maybe what I really mean by home is my own space–regardless of where it is. Or maybe I mean my own space in my own country with my own language and my own children. Though that sounds a little too capitalistic and jingoistic and bitchy, no?

So maybe I’ll just say that I’m looking forward to moving into our new house in Tempe soon. I’ll post some photos once we get there so you can all can see us in our home-living glory. In the meantime, wish me luck with the rest of our “vacation.” I hope you all are enjoying yours too.

La Bruta

We’ve started to call Frida “La Bruta,” which literally means “The Brute.” We also sometimes call her “La Monstruo,” which you can probably translate for yourself.

Meanwhile, she continues overall to be quite angelic and sweet. People comment all the time that she “never cries” (at least not within earshot of them). And she loves interacting with new people. On the bus, she makes eyes at nearby passengers, smiling and reaching out her hand like she wants to more than anything to be held by them. More than once, a passenger has gotten off at her or her stop and then run around to wave goodbye to Frida once more through the window. It’s a little pathetic, but we let them think that she thinks they’re special.

With family, she’s even more adoring. Every time Frida sees her cousin Ana (who is one of the two extra children I mentioned in the last post), she lights up. But I mean really lights up. Her face expands in all directions and her smile stretches big and wide. Ana, of course, loves her, too. As do her grandparents, and the millions of aunts and uncles and other sundry cousins we keep meeting here (we’re in Marta’s family’s hometown right now and it seems like everyone is a cousin).

But we call her La Bruta and La Monstruo because, in addition to being sweet and adoring, she is also strong, fast, drooly, and seemingly born without a sense of caution or fear.

An example: Yesterday we went to go see two monasteries in a town nearby and afterwards we had lunch in a little cafe with outdoor seats. They also had a plastic playhouse, so Nico and Ana played pretend quietly in the house while we were waiting for our food to arrive. Meanwhile we put Frida on the grass to, in an ideal world, play quietly as well. But Frida never stays in one place for more than two seconds (unless she’s sleeping or tied down). So she took off immediately. First she army crawled though all the dirt she could find. Then she pulled herself to standing alongside the plastic playhouse and, somehow, managed to fall and bang her head on a plastic toy at her feet–twice. Then she tried to consume four or more five sticks, leaves, and/or cigarette butts.

And this was all before the food came. Once the food was there, she would occasionally stop her prowling to consume a mouthful of chicken or tomato or whatever we could manage to stuff in there. Then she’d be off again. She would have crawled all the way back to the monasteries if we had let her. In Marta’s dad’s house, she’s already climbed three flights of stairs. And gnawed on the edges of all the chairs. And broken one souvenir from China.

I know this behavior is actually somewhat normal. In fact there are probably other babies who are wilder. But, you see, Nico was not like this. When I think back on her early crawling life, in fact, I remember her being relatively still. She liked then–and still likes now–to stay in one place and observe things, sort through thinks, look at things. She’s like Ferdinand the Bull. Sweet and a wee bit lazy. Frida is like the bulls they wanted Ferdinand to be: all riled up and ready to bang her head into something.

To prove to you how brutish she is, I have tried to take some pictures of Frida in action. But the problem is she moves too quickly. Or she suddenly does something dangerous and I have to set down the camera and keep her from killing herself. So in the end I only have photos in which she appears relatively calm and sweet. Like this recent one of us on the seesaw.

But I did manage to capture one that almost gets to the heart of her brutishness. The fact that she’s eating tofu here instead of, say, raw meat detracts slightly from my central argument. But you can still see what I mean.