Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Starting Line

It's a special day!  Ian is, at this moment, embarking on one of the most important and exciting adventures of his life: his formal education.  As long-term students and current educators, Eric and I couldn't be more delighted for him and the experiences he's going to encounter.  It almost makes us wish we could do it all over again....but then we're reminded of my 19 years and Eric's 24 years of schooling (whew!), and we're just simply happy for Ian. 

And he's so ready.  We have no doubt that he's going to take to full-day kindergarten like a fish to water.  His little brain is like a sponge right now, soaking up every bit of information and experience he can.  Exploring and questioning and retaining are second-nature to him at this stage of the game, and making new friends will be so fun. 

We wouldn't be honest if we said we weren't going to miss him, but our excitement for what he's embarking upon far outweighs any sadness over his being gone for the better part of every weekday.  It's just SO COOL that he's in school! 

So this morning was spent acting out all the school morning steps we'd been practicing all week:  up and at 'em at 6:30, hopping in the shower, getting dressed in his school uniform, having a good breakfast, packing his lunch, brushing his teeth, and walking around the corner to the bus stop.   He's already so good at the routine that we had about 15 minutes to spare, which was a good time for the quintessential first day of school photos on the doorstep.  Then, at the bus stop, he got his "game face" on, and climbed up those steps like he was an old pro, not even stopping to wave or say good-bye.  A little man, crossing the starting line for a great adventure. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Epilogue: Back Home

We've been back home for over a week now. Our trip home was a bit...interesting, but we finally made it about 7 hours later than originally planned (with our luggage another 12+ hours behind us).

Now that we're settled back in, having fought a war with some pesky ants and cleaned up the remnants of the tree that feel in our back yard, we thought that it would be a good time to share a few final thoughts. So, here we go.

1. In one sense, our month in Spain was the tip of the iceberg in regards to the work, preparation, and planning that went into the trip. In any major project I've been involved with, there has always been those moments were you quietly ask yourself whether or not what you are doing is worth it. Seeing our students thrive, forming personal connections and (for some of them) honing their teaching craft, made it all worthwhile. I chose to go down the path of being at a teaching school as opposed to a research school; watching my students grow like they did reminded me of why I made that decision. I think it is always a good thing to be reminded in the present of why you made certain choices in the past.

2. Speaking of students, it was a delight to live with a number of them for a month. As a linguist, I was able to collect all kinds of useful data on current word usages and slang. In short, it was tots (sp?) awesome.

3. Some people thought we were crazy to take a (then) 8-month-old and a 5-year-old to another country for a month while we led a group of college students on a missions trip. In response, I would have to say that yes, we were. That said, it was a very positive experience for both boys. I had the chance to spend a lot father-son time with Tobin, and Ian had his cultural and linguistic horizons broadened.

4. Delta Airlines as a company is awful.

5. However, related to #4, there are a number of Delta employees who are wonderful.

6. In regards to ministry in Alcoy, I feel confident saying that our team met one of the primary goals I had going into the trip. Namely, the students we took, through their hard work, prayer, and dedication, opened a number of doors in regards to the ongoing ministry of the Spanish church there.

7. Next up, Lithuania in 2013. Maybe.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just so you don't think it's all work and no play...

In an act of gratitude, the Spanish church we've been working with threw a party for us last Friday night. There was lots of food, music, and (Bethel-appropriate) dancing.

Here's a little snippet. Be warned, you might get motion sickness.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Some Nibbles

While we were settling in on our first day, a friend of Sammi's (the apartment's normal resident) stopped by to say "Hello". Wanting to get to know us better, Javi invited us to his house at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday in order to enjoy some "nibbles".

Friday came, and Javi swung by our apartment to pick us up. He drove us to his house, a small, red, single-story home on a hillside overlooking Cocentaina.

We arrived a little after 6:00, and we spent the next 3 hours enjoying various local snacks while we each shared about our homes, jobs, families, favorite foods, etc...

True to his Indiana heritage, Ian's favorite part of the evening was driving (and parking) a small John Deere tractor.

Apparently Javi enjoyed our time, because a week later Ian and I joined him and his friends for a barbecue. Then, this past weekend Javi's family came over for some "nibbles" at our place, followed by a walking tour of Cocentaina (both Javi and his wife grew up here). This next Sunday, I will be joining Javi for a 6 a.m. hike on a nearby mountain. I'll be sure to post pictures. Assuming I survive.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

La Capilla de Sant Jordi (St. George's Chapel)

The view of St. George's Chapel from the school
No matter where you go in Alcoy, you can almost always catch a glimpse of a lovely blue-domed chapel situated in the center of the town's valley.  The chapel is dedicated to St. George, the same St. George of British legend, who purportedly slayed a dragon in Libya, saving a princess and returning home a hero.  As it turns out, he's a hero in Alcoy, as well.

In the latter part of the 13th century, Alcoy was being invaded by the Moors.  As the story goes, in the thick of the battle, when all looked lost, St. George appeared on horseback in between two mountains overlooking the city and led a victorious charge on the Moors, thus saving the Alcoyanos from certain ruin.  With gratitude, the locals pledged to build a church in honor of their savior, and hence, St. George's chapel was designed and raised.

Nowadays in April, there is a yearly festival in honor of this event in which the people of the town dress in medieval costumes and take part in an epic "battle" of Moors and Christians, which is always won by the Christians following the appearance of "St. George."  It is widely considered Alcoy's main attraction. The Lonely Planet travel guide even goes so far as to say that for 51 and 1/2 weeks out of the year, there is no reason to visit Alcoy -- this festival occupies the half-week exception.  Of course, we obviously don't agree with this sentiment and have found many reasons to be here!


My job in Spain is a little bit different. Instead of working at the morning camps or teaching English in the evening, I'm the housekeeper, cook, babysitter, CFO, and of course, driver.

I've discovered there are two rules to Spanish driving:

1. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way when stepping onto a cross walk. They won't even look to see if you are coming; they just step right into the street at full speed.

2. Don't turn on red.

Actually, there's a third rule as well, but it relates more to parking than driving:

3. If at least two wheels are inside the parking space, that's good enough. It doesn't seem to matter which two wheels...

Thankfully, I haven't had too many scary moments at the wheel. For the most part, I find Spanish drivers to be the perfect mix of aggressive and law-abiding. Traffic flows really well.

The one mishap I've had though occurred when we were returning to Alcoi from Alicante on Saturday. Our TomTom kept putzing out on us, and we ended up taking about a 15 km detour. I had forgotten to bring my laptop (it had all of my good maps on it), so we spent about 15-20 minutes in the middle of nowhere trying to figure out how to get back home.

Fortunately, we made it and only wasted about 35 minutes.

Here's to two more weeks of accident-free driving.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pizzaria Pirata

On the first Monday night that we were here, we had just had a loooonnnnng day at kids' camp and a hectic evening of registration and placement tests for the adult classes.  Hannah, Ben, and I were pretty late getting home and Eric had already had supper with the boys, so the three of us ventured out around Cocentaina for something to eat.  Completely missing the tapas bar that had been recommended to us, we stumbled upon a restaurant called Pizzaria Pirata and decided to give it a try.
Holy yumminess.  Yes, that IS an egg in the middle of my pizza.  It's accompanied by whole green olives, tiny slices of chorizo, a perfect amount of cheese, and a thin layer of a simple tomato sauce, all on top of a crispy, bubbly crust.  Pure deliciousness.  Here's a close-up:  
Since then, we've made Saturday nights our Pizzaria Pirata night.  We all order our own pizzas for a little over 6 Euros each and have a feast.  I'm fairly certain that this will be one of the many things we'll miss after we leave.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ian & Jordi

In the first session of the kids' camp, Ian made friends with a six-year-old named Jordi.  It's been fun to watch them play together, eat together, and get in trouble together, even with the language barrier.

These two dudes have had so much fun together these past two weeks.  And here they are having some more:

Jordi fell on the playground last weekend and broke his arm.  Hence, the cast and the scrapes on his forehead.  This situation only gave Ian the excuse to a) pretend he was injured, too, and b) be a "helper" to his friend all week.

In his prayers at night, Ian has been thanking God for his friend Jordi, because "he's so funny."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Not-So-Local Celebrity

Our kids' camp made the Alcoy newspaper this week, and look who was the star!
For those of you who can read Spanish, here's the whole article (just double-click on it to enlarge): 

Tobin's Groupies

Tobin had some admirers these past two weeks!
These two loving ladies (among other people) were always more than happy to cuddle him, feed him, and entertain him so we could have a break now and then.  Consequently, he's been a super happy dude!

Thanks, Shannon and Sondra!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trienta y dos

It's someone's birthday. 
Can you tell how excited he is?  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The House

Although our trip to Alcoi was in the works for a little over a year, we didn’t know where we would be living until a few days before we left Indiana. Originally, all of our team members were going to stay with host families while our family lived in its own apartment. The missionaries had trouble finding host families and that idea had to be abandoned.

Providentially, a Finnish couple that knew the missionaries was going to be leaving for a couple of months, and they offered their home for us to stay in. Even better, this couple had three children: ages six, four, and 7 months (born 4 days later than Tobin). This meant that their house was perfectly suited for our family.

Given that the house was so large (2 ½ baths, 4 bedrooms, and a loft area with another 6 beds), we have been able to also take care of the Bethel students that don’t have host families. During the first two weeks, this is just Hannah and Ben; however, the second two weeks will see us living with Ben, Allison, Whitney, Garrett, and Katie. I thought that I was just going to be taking care of 2 children; now it looks like I’ll have 7.

The house is spacious. It’s narrow, but very long front-to-back. On the entry level, there is a staircase leading to the second floor, a large kitchen, a ½ bath, and a sitting/living room that opens up to a back deck. The back deck has steps leading down to a patio that contains a small kiddie pool (it’s a couple feet deep) that is a house favorite during siesta. The second floor has 4 bedrooms and two full baths. Each bedroom opens onto a short balcony. The third floor has a large open room with a sitting area and bunk beds.

We feel very blessed to have this house to stay in. After only a week, it already feels like home.
Back Deck
Living Room and Dining Room
Our Bedroom

Monday, July 11, 2011

Adult English Classes

Yesterday, we told you about our mornings; today, we'll explain what goes on in the evenings around here.

After siesta time (during which both boys get naps, but not necessarily their parents), we eat a light snack, called la merienda, around 5:00 to tide us over for a late dinner, which the Spanish call la cena.  Then I get in the car with Ben and Hannah, the two students currently living with us, and drive into Alcoy to the church for the adult English classes.  The classes are held at Iglesia Bautista "Monte Sion" de Alcoy (translated:  Mount Zion Baptist Church of Alcoy) in the heart of downtown.  The church graciously repainted the entire inside of their building and even installed air conditioning in some of the classrooms in preparation for this event.  Hosting the classes is a good advertisement for the church, which is one of only a couple evangelical churches in the area due to the fact that many people here view Protestant churches as part of a cult.  Their hope is that by hosting these classes, people will not only become more comfortable with the church, but will also be able to form relationships with some of the members.
Iglesia Bautista "Monte Sion"
At 6:00pm, formal classes begin, during which the students are split into three groups:  beginner, intermediate, and high-intermediate.  They're taught by Jessica, Katie, and Ben, the three Bethel student teachers who came with us.  Then at 7:00pm, we split the students into groups of 4-6 to have some free conversation time.  The other American volunteers (comprised mostly of people from northern Indiana Missionary churches, along with the extra Bethel students we brought with us), give up their evening to come to the church and lead conversation groups.  We're very grateful for their help, as the Alcoy residents eat this time up.
Pastor Pedro with Inez from California and Jessica from Indiana
At around 8pm, everyone is exhausted and ready to head we do.  Ben and Hannah and I usually arrive back home around 8:45, where Eric is laying out a delightful cena on the table on the east balcony.  We feast and chat and rest until it's time for bed, which happens for us old people around 11:30pm, while our students usually stay up for a bit longer to get some work done in preparation for class the next day.  

The next morning, the whole schedule starts again.  Thus our weekdays go.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

English Camp Alcoy

Whew!  That was a crazy week! Our first seven days here were a whirlwind of activity and adjustment, but we made it, and now it's the weekend.  (Hallelujah!) We thought we'd take this lazy Sunday afternoon to catch y'all up on what we're doing here in southeast Spain.
Ian with two of his classmates spelling the word "ant"
The bulk of our weekdays are spent at Escola Oficial D'Idiomes (Official Language School) in Alcoi.  We eat breakfast (el desayuno) together at 7:15, leave home around 7:45, arrive at the school around 8:00, have devotions and a general meeting time with the other American volunteers, then start English Camp at 9:00.  There are four sessions with a mid-morning snack break, called almuerzo.  The children travel in their age groups from station to station, which include art, sports, music, and English.  My Bethel student teachers and I hang out in the English classroom all day where they teach the same lesson four times...with a few tweaks to accommodate each age group.  We get to love on the kids and play lots of fun language games.  The camp gets over around 1:00pm, at which point we eat a catered lunch (la comida), with the other American volunteers, then depart for home around 2:30 for siesta.
My student Katie, teaching about England
Ian hangs out in the 5-6-year-old group all morning and has started making some cute Spanish friends.  One in particular, a six-year-old named Jordi, has been dubbed Ian's favorite.  The two boys often have to be separated for having too much fun together.  :)

Eric's morning involves driving me, Ian, Tobin, and one of our students to the school every day (the other student living with us right now gets a ride from the missionaries running the show), leaving with Tobin around 9am to swing by the grocery store for the day's victuals, putting Tobin down for a nap at home while taking care of household details (cooking, cleaning, budget-keeping, baby food-making, etc.), heading back to the school around 12:30 so Tobin can get his lunch from me, then taking us all home after lunch.  He's taken on his role as administrator/house-husband like a fish takes to water.  I'm so stinkin' proud of him.

Check out tomorrow's post to find out about our exciting afternoon/evenings!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Hola, España!

We're here in Spain, safe and sound!  The trans-Atlantic flight was terrible, but we made it, and we're happy to be here.  We're actually living in a "puble" called Concentaina, just outside of Alcoi, about a 10-minute drive from the elementary school where we'll be running the kids' camps every day.  Some wonderful Finnish people, Sami and Noora, are loaning us their beautiful home while they take a family vacation back to Finland for two months.  We got to spend some time with them yesterday before they left, and we're so blessed to have known them, even for such a short time.

Today is being spent cleaning, unpacking, and getting some rest.  Everything closes down on Sundays (personally, I think that's the way it should be), so we're just hanging out and putting off errands until tomorrow.  

Strangely, we've taken no pictures yet (gotta get that camera out), but we'll be sure to post some soon.  

Hasta la vista!  

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Goodbye Thomas, Hello Legos

Being five is the best.  According to Ian, five-year-olds do all sorts of things four-year-olds don't: they eat mushrooms, they watch the "csary" parts of movies, they sleep on the top bunk, and they play with Legos incessantly without pause.  Ian's Legos live in the Star Wars universe, so that's where he spends the majority of his day.  The tune of the Imperial March is constantly being hummed.  The sounds of blasters, light sabers, and ships going to warp speed are all sounds emanating from Ian's room.  Invitations to "come see the ship I just built!" abound throughout the day.

All while the once-beloved Thomas and Friends sit in an old cardboard box in the basement.  The Dude is growing up and moving on to more complicated and varied things. It's a fantastic step of development, really, as he's not only able to continue to hone his story-making skills, but also his spacial/building skills, an aspect which was limited in his make-believe adventures on the Island of Sodor.  Now instead of tracks, it's starships and bunkers and walkers, which are much more sophisticated in their construction.  Granted, Eric is closely involved in the assembly of most of these items (a fact which delights the little boy in him), but Ian is quickly learning and exploring his own methods of building. 
I'm learning a lot too!  While I had seen the original Star Wars trilogy several times growing up, I never paid attention to types of ships or planets or obscure characters.  (X-wing?  Tatooine? Boba Fett? )  And growing up, the only interaction I really had with Legos was to help my brother find specific pieces -- which I was really good at, by the way.  Now I'm expected to repair busted Imperial shuttles and speeders -- which I'm not so good at, but I'm slowly learning the tricks of the trade.  And I'm happy to do so, because it means I get to know and understand my ever-growing son that much better.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First Half-Birthday

Last Friday, this little guy celebrated his first six months out in society!  A social butterfly, he's all smiles when someone is holding him or talking directly to him...and it doesn't matter who.  But make him sit by himself, and you'd think the world was coming to an end! Seriously, though, he's such a joy to be around, and he's dug himself deep into our hearts such that we can't imagine life without him.  

Here are some other things Tobin is digging right now:
  • his big brother's laugh and silly faces
  • Daddy's face
  • Mommy's milk, 4 or 5 times a day
  • solid, pureed foods (homemade cereal, green beans, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, lima beans, and applesauce)
  • rolling over onto his back and getting stuck
  • crawling/scooting backwards
  • chewing on anything he can get his hands on
  • drooling all over anyone who gets close enough 
  • sleeping 10-12 hours nearly every night 
  • trying to eat grass
  • standing on the lap of anyone who will hold him up (sitting is for wimps)
  • watching other kids play
  • sticking his tongue out when he's happy
We sure love our Goober-Nut.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Decade's Worth of Musings

Ten years ago today, Eric and I began a significant and exciting adventure that would forever alter who we were and what we were to become:  We got hitched.  Tied the knot.  Hooked up the ol' ball and chain.  Became each others' better halves.   

It's interesting and appropriate how so many euphemisms for marriage have to do with connection and and a unifying of two persons.  In our experience thus far, marriage has been just that, but not in the negative, prison-like sense that you hear so much about these days.  For me, at least, it's been truly liberating to be married to Eric.  Not only do I like who I am better than I did ten years ago, but I like him even better than I did ten years ago.  Being connected to him in such a binding way has taught me so much about relationships, love, respect, and giving of myself for other people.  Perhaps it is because he is such a good model of all of those things, but also a lot of the growth and understanding I've experienced can be attributed to simply living day-in and day-out with a person and making things work regardless of their foibles.

Not that Eric has many, really.  In fact, I was marveling the other day about how few unpleasant surprises there have been with him.  Sure, we've definitely had our disagreements and misunderstandings (we wouldn't be human if we didn't), but for the most part, anything new that I've learned about him over the years has at the very least been intriguing or interesting...definitely not scary.  I'm awestruck at the generous gift God has bestowed upon me, and cannot fathom why I would deserve him.  I can only praise God's glorious grace!

Someone once said, "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person*."   That pretty much sums it up.

So, happy anniversary, Babe.  Here's to 4 or 5 more decades!

*Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Lent 2011

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season preceding Easter.  It's actually one of my favorite times of year, as it gives me a chance to experience Christ in a new way by sharing even the tiniest bit in His suffering.  It also lends the opportunity to experience more fully the joy of Easter and the freedom that accompanies Christ's resurrection.  It's kind of like the "no pain, no gain" philosophy. 

In our family, we not only abstain from something dear to us, but we also try to take on something that is beneficial.  This year, Eric will be going without his favorite beverage, and I'll be forgoing any interaction with social media like Facebook and this blog.  Yes, it's been a six-week hiatus, and I'm about to take another full six weeks off.  Sorry about that.  (I know you're constantly sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for a blog post from us.  Your heiny must hurt something terrible.  Although, Eric is not skipping out on social media, so he's more than welcome to post as much as he wants...which is usually about one time a year.)  Anyway....Our family is also going to be taking on the practice of family devotions at dinner time.  We did this last year and really enjoyed it.  Somehow, we fell out of the habit again and are looking forward to renewing it. 

So,  dear Internet friends and family, have a nice early spring!  I'll really miss sharing with you our spring recipes and happenings -- its' my favorite time of year!  But I'll be back after Easter with lots to share, I'm sure. 

God bless!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Card Shark

 Some things of note in this photo: 
  1. As of yesterday, our Bugger-boo now wears glasses, which he is sporting here.  I won't lie and say that I was happy about this new development -- because what mom doesn't want a better life for her kid than she had herself?  It sucks having poor vision, and I'm sad that Ian will have to deal with it for the rest of his life.  However, I'm incredibly thankful for Eric's dad, the optometrist in our family, who provided this stellar care for Ian's eyes and even took care of the cost of the glasses, which are pretty pimped-out.  How does Ian feel about having those things on his face?  In his words, "Everything is wobbly," but that will pass as his brain adjusts to the new input.  Currently, we're bribing him with the Thomas' Misty Island logging track once he logs 30 hours with the glasses on.  We're keeping track of each hour with a sticker chart, and yesterday Ian completed seven whole hours total!  Today he's up to three, so he's ticking the hours away pretty quickly.  Hopefully by the end of this week, wearing the glasses will be a non-issue.  
  2. We're playing a lot of card games around here lately. This morning before breakfast, Ian and I played a round of "Monopoly Deal," which he just learned how to play yesterday...sort of.  Even with only being able to read about half the cards, and having no idea of strategy, he creamed me.  The dude must have his dad's luck in cards, for all I can figure. 
  3. That body-less stuffed animal/blanket he's holding is none other than the infamous Bear (original name, huh?).  That thing is Ian's confidante and his mode for expressing things he's otherwise not capable or willing to share.  It's no secret around our house that I'm not a big fan of Bear -- he's dirty, smelly, has a propensity for getting lost at the most inopportune times, and honestly, he's a whiney brat.  But my son loves him dearly, and for that, I wash him, accept kisses from him (eww), and engage in repeated rescue missions for him.   He's practically a part of our family and some day he'll end up in a box in a closet somewhere, which will be kind of sad.  
  4. I just love the look on Ian's face here.  Having just beaten his mom in a card game way over his head, he was a mixture of pride for himself and concern for the fact that I lost (and quite badly at that).  That, and he refuses to smile for cameras these days.  I swear that kid is four going on fifteen. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

Things that make me smile

These two chaps:

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sausage Penne

Pretty much every family has a go-to meal that everyone loves and is easy to make.  This is ours.  It was first introduced to us by our good friends the Dunns, who found it in Food & Wine Magazine before we became subscribers of that now-beloved publication.  It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, and even less time to devour.  For four or five years now, we've made it nearly weekly (with a few breaks here and there because I simply can't stand food ruts), and we still love it.  We usually serve it with a side of blanched and sauteed broccolini, but sometimes we'll do green beans or even a salad. 

So without further ado, an Oglesbee family favorite:  Sausage Penne

(Recipe adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, 2002)
1 box whole-wheat penne pasta, cooked
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
3/4 c. white wine
3 T. grainy mustard (like Dijon)
dash or pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
3/4 c. heavy cream (we often just use 2% milk, though)
1 c. thinly sliced fresh basil

Brown the sausage in a large skillet or Dutch oven.  When it's fully cooked, add the white wine, scrapping up the browned bits; let simmer and reduce to about half, for about 5 minutes.  Add the mustard and crushed red pepper and stir to coat.  Add the cream/milk and bring to a simmer, stirring often.  Pour over the cooked pasta, toss to coat, stir in the basil, and serve. 

Monday, January 03, 2011


There's something really special about a relationship between a little boy and his dad. To Ian, his dad is the coolest guy ever (and I tend to agree with him) and he wants nothing more than to be like him and spend time with him.  Thankfully, he had the chance to do that these past two weeks as Eric was able to be home every day while on Christmas break (thus giving the mom of the house a much-needed breather as well!)

 On Saturday, the very first day of the year, the "two talking boys" spent the morning in the backyard digging...because what else is more fun on a warmish, windy January morning? 
One of our new favorite musicians is Frances England, who not only crafts songs that are enjoyable for kids and adults alike, but also has an uncanny understanding of the toddler psyche.  And of course, one of Ian's favorite songs (behind "Blueberry Pancakes") is "Daddy-O."  It seems to express the love he has for his dad in a way he's not able to on his own yet.  I love hearing him sing it with gusto and a huge smile on his face. 

(In the box below, scroll down to the bottom and click on "Daddy-O" to listen to the full song.)