I’m still working on writing about our 10 week summer trip through Europe (and you can see what I’ve written so far here: European Road Trip), but I wanted to give a quick update, real-time, of what we are up to now. We are back in Spain, living in the same apartment we were in last year, and the boys are back at their same school.
Back for another year
Everything seems a bit easier this year. For example, last year, we had to find a bank, gather our paperwork, go back a few times it sorted out, then figure out how to transfer money from our US account to Spain. This year, we just went online and scheduled a transfer between the accounts in about 2 minutes. Now, imagine that same thing for virtually everything – hair cuts, adults Spanish class, exercise classes, restaurants, etc. We say that we feel like we are reaping the benefits this year from all our hard work last year. It is also very helpful to arrive with at least some understanding of Spanish, since last year we had to do it all without ANY knowledge of Spanish. Of course, we still want to keep working to improve our level. Hopefully next year at this time, we will be talking about how little Spanish we knew at this point!
It was nice to be back in town, and we quickly found all of our favorites – fresh squeezed OJ, churros, the kids favorite (but honestly the bar is VERY low there! 😉 )Chinese restaurant, and ice cream.
We got a message from the mom of L’s BFF the day after we got back, and she said her son had been asking when L was coming back, and so they were excited to have him come over to play right away.
The nice thing about a small town is that we also have the opportunity to run into people we know just being out and about in town, so we have been able to catch up with a lot of people that way.
School started on Monday, and all three boys are in the Primary school this year (last year N was in the Infantil school located next door – they had the same schedule but were just in different buildings). It is great to have the boys all together!
The whole school has a half hour of lunch/recess together, and on the first day of school, N’s class left their classroom at recess time and went outside, but N somehow got confused and was wandering around in the hallway. Luckily, L went looking for him, and found him and brought him outside to hang out with him and his friends. N is so lucky to have his big brothers look out for him, and we are so proud of the big boys for taking care of him!
Picture above has N outside his classroom (his teacher is in the background – she was L’s teacher last year) and N walking into his classroom
For a little peek at what the boys do at school, here is a copy of A’s weekly schedule.
It seems that, despite the shorter days, they have time for lots of non-core subjects, whereas in the US, I feel like they are cutting out these “specials” in terms of more rigorous academics. Not saying one system is right or wrong, but an interesting note. Also, here in Spain, the day is a bit shorter, only going from 9-2, which gives the kids the whole afternoon free.
What about English?
The first year in Spain, we were focused on the boys gaining proficiency in Spanish, but now that we are in our 2nd year away from English-speaking schools, we have decided to enroll them in online English Language arts classes to ensure that they stay up to speed in English. Of course, they speak it regularly and the older boys read quite a bit, but we want to make sure they still have the skills to be completely fluent in the writing and grammar parts.
For N, he left when he was only 4, so he has the extra challenge of learning to read in English. We worked on that a bit last year, and he is definitely a beginner reader now, mostly by doing this great online program, Reading Eggs, but we want to keep him on track, so his class is a bit more focused on reading in English. We are excited for the boys to do that, and since they get very little homework from school, the few hours a week they work on English shouldn’t be too much of a burden.
A lot of the activities seem to start in October, as September seems to be the month where things are winding down from summer (and I suspect the people who work in the tourist industry in town are just starting to catch their breath from the chaos of summer!). We plan to once again do soccer/football, tennis and swimming. Luckily, this time of year is still warm enough to go to the beach, in addition to being less crowded, so we have been doing that occasionally.
What about the adults?
Now that the boys are back at school, C and I are figuring out our days. We manage to fill our time pretty easily – you would be amazed at how fast those 5 hours of school go! C bought a new mountain bike and hopes to explore the nearby hills, I’ve made a goal to climb up the Peñone (big rock in the center of the beach) for 100 days straight, and we are both doing personal training group sessions twice a week, in addition to Spanish class twice a week. We also plan to swim while the boys do their swimming lessons in the evenings. I’m still working on occasional consulting projects as well, so that keeps me occupied as well (and since my clients are in the US, I can usually relax and hang out in the mornings, still get lots of work done before anyone is awake there, and not worry about being available until afternoon).
Looking ahead to the rest of the year
Looking out towards the year, we have some initial travel plans in the works. My brother is visiting this month (and while he is here we are taking a day trip to Morocco), C is planning to fly up to see his family in Scotland every few months, and we will be back in the US for 3 weeks in December (for the first time in 1.5 years!).
We have a few plans for Europe trips – the boys have a long break at the end of October, so we will fly to Tenerife, a Spanish island, part of the Canary islands, located off the coast of Africa. We plan to visit our friends in Germany to ski in February, and we are still trying to figure out where we will go for spring break in April. Between those trips, we will try to keep exploring the local area.