Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Good, The Bad, The Crazy

The Good:

My heart smiles when I watch Lochlan (13 months) absorb the sights and sounds of city life. She waves to everyone and will cry if no one is in view. When I look back on all the traveling and schlepping we have done over the past two weeks, I am reminded of her stamina and strength, and that makes me proud. Saca said she walked across the plaza yesterday (Plaza de San Miguel Bajo) and commented on not being able to recall the last time she saw her crawl for any distance. I think it's special to be able to, one day, tell her she learned to walk in Granada, Spain.

Making new friends and building structures in the Francesco Tonucci exhibit.
Playing soccer in the plaza.
Determined to add her ball to this contraption at the Science Park.
Pretending she's the bull and Keller is the matador.
My dangerous attempt at keeping her safe on a bus ride to Ronda.
I will bring a carseat on our next excursion.

For Keller, this has been a coming of age story. Yes, he just turned four but for some reason the jump from three to four has felt very significant - like we are leaving the era of little kid-ness. Of course there are still times when I push him too hard, when his (inherited) stubbornness rears its ugly head, and when exhaustion takes over and results in a complete melt down... But for the most part, it has been amazing to watch him step up to the challenge. He helps me push the pram up the grueling cobblestone streets. He tries to help taxi drivers put our things into the trunks of their cars. He is starting to order ice cream in Spanish and he says "hola" to just about everyone we pass along our quiet neighborhood streets. And I think it is really good for him to see me encountering new obstacles daily (language, transportation, entertainment, etc.) and for him to have the opportunity to help me work through many of those challenges.

I am treasuring our walks down to the dried fruit market, taking the trash out at night, and dribbling the soccer ball up to get a gatorade at the tiny grocery store before bed. During siesta time, and in an effort to avoid the scorching mid-day heat, we play inside. The walls of our little apartment are starting to fill with his paintings and papers that come home from spanish class, reminding me yet again that you need very little to make a strange place feel like home.

Doing some number work.
The annual soccer ball picture taken on his fourth birthday.
From inside the theatre as we watched Mi Amigo el Gigante.
After Spanish class with his "man bag."

Finding activities out of the house has been a challenge, which I will write more about below. But sticking to the good, our discovery of the Parque de las Ciencias has been a godsend. We go just about every day and spend hours building structures, learning about disaster relief, and playing with various puzzles and contraptions.

I think this could entertain him for an hour.
Playing with, building with, and eating the dominoes.
One of the many soccer fields Keller has constructed during our time at the Park.
Learning about tsunamis.
P.S. He is now fascinated with the sinking of the Titanic!

The Bad:

I was 22 the last time I was in Granada - hardly a time in my life when I was surveying the surroundings to assess how child friendly they would be. Well it turns out this city does not rank very high on that chart. I am not kidding when I say there is NO GRASS here. Playgrounds are few and far between, which would be okay if the play structures were not also made of metal and fully exposed to the elements. On the 100 degree days we are having, they scream skin cancer and second degree burns. Surely the moms here do something with their kids in the summer! I've scoured the internet, I stop people with kids in the street and ask for suggestions, we quiz the local librarian and shopkeepers... Two weeks in to living here and the playbook has yet to surface. During a conversation with the librarian yesterday, he said we needed to go to the next town to find grass - I kid you not!

The little green you do see near the Alhambra is trees.
We are living in an urban desert!

A Glimpse Into The Crazy:

Everyone warned me about Lochlan walking, but so far the walking has not been a problem. The game changer has been the climbing. She can lift that little leg up to her shoulder and hoist herself up on just about anything. We go to the library, I turn around and she's on top of a chair. I turn my back for a second while trying to get ready for the day and she's literally climbing up to the top bunk. (Yes - she can make it all the way up there by herself. Thankfully it has not happened without me or Saca being there.) She climbs the pram. She climbs shelving… And just about everywhere here has tiled or stone flooring. Prayers for this little monkey's safety. Her lack of fear and desire to do and see everything is both awesome and crazy!

Climbing the ladder.
At the top!
Climbing the pram.

After long days of trying to find our way, I enjoy a good laugh over some of the things that get lost in translation. This advert was slipped under our apartment door one afternoon. Take out anyone?

An advert slipped under the apartment door. 

Getting groceries from a real grocery store, is half a day's work and looks something like this:
- I load the kids into the stroller and ski down into town (think sledding behind a ~70 box on wheels).
- Walk another mile or so to the Corte Engles, continually going out of my way to stay in the shade because it is so insanely hot outside.
- Once inside Corte Engles, we maneuver through the narrow, crowded isles to the elevators located in the back corner of the store and head to the basement level.
- Although shopping carts are available, they are like micro-trolleys, which means I can either ditch the stroller somewhere (which as I type this may be a strategy I try next time), or have Keller jump out and let his side of the double stroller serve as the shopping cart.
- In this scenario, we typically make it about half way through our list before Lochlan begins (a) trying to eat whatever is within reach (raw meats and cleaning supplies are always stored overheard), and (b) kicking and throwing things out of the stroller which Keller then turns into an "absolutely hilarious" game of catch.
- Around this point the phrase "this is a disaster" starts rolling off the tongue at every turn. We manage to grab the last of the "must have" items before squeezing into the very narrow checkout isle where I attempt to unload and reload our purchases (no bag boys here) while keeping an eye on Keller and preventing Loch from an absolute meltdown.
- Then it's Keller back into the pram, the 4 or so packed shopping bags slipped onto the stroller handles, and back to the elevators where I am now positioned to maneuver an even larger load through the store and back outside.
- We make it outside and hail a cab. Thankfully, the drivers here are pretty amenable and usually hop out to help me load the kids, groceries, and stroller into their tiny car.
- We try to entertain Lochlan (who is not in a car seat) to prevent her from screaming the entire way and/or taking a dive inside or (worse) outside of the moving car.
- Finally we arrive home, unload, and squeeze back through the door of our little apartment.

Snapped a picture at the end of a shopping trip yesterday.