Sweating the little things (or little people) – Part 2 – Spain arrival

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The stress of our US departure was behind us.  We were on our way to Spain.  Weeks of purging, packing and cleaning our house were at an end.  Jed and I were certainly very relieved when we boarded our flight.  As to be expected with any big move, the calm was short lived.

The 7-hour time zone difference hit everyone hard when we first arrived.  Thankfully it is summer break and the kids have no activities planned in the morning, plus Spaniards eat meals much later than we did in the US.  In the end, we decided to let the jet lag help us shift our boys’ (A&V) daily schedule about 4 hours.  They wake up at about 10 am, eat dinner at 10pm and go to bed at midnight.  We all use the siesta hours from about 3-6pm to stay indoors and relax.  We nap occasionally but similar to Spaniards, not every day.

When we first arrived to the house in Granada, I found that I was anxious to get the house stocked with groceries.  To me nothing feels more like home than being able to eat all of your meals there.  I was prepared but still surprised by the intense walking nature of our neighborhood.  We live 1000 steps either uphill or downhill on cobblestone lanes from the closest mini-market.  And much further from larger grocery stores.  I was thankful to find out that the main grocery stores have delivery services for a reasonable price.  Our first grocery order was placed online the very night we arrived and delivery was set for 2 days later.  Having a full pantry improved everyone’s tired and jet-lagged dispositions.  It also bought us some time to figure out the best grocery routine for us.  Three weeks later, we find that it includes a combination of fruit stands, bakeries, mini-markets and large grocery stores.

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Zen of the neighborhood playground.

Part of settling into a city is finding our neighborhood park.  A&V were very excited to find this park just a 5-minute walk from our house.  The park has standard playground equipment for kids as well as outdoor exercise equipment for adults.  We’ve become regulars and find ourselves there most days in the evening.

For the past year we convinced A&V to save their money in lieu of buying new toys in the US because of our planned move out of the country.  All of their US toys would have to go into storage therefore it didn’t make sense to buy more toys.  Better to save their money and buy toys in Spain.  The boys did a great job saving, and we made sure that we got them to the local toy store within the first week of our arrival.  A&V seemed overwhelmed with choices when they first walked into the store, but not surprisingly they ended up right in front of the Lego display.  ItIMG_8637 wasn’t until later when we were home and they had their Lego pieces arranged on the floor that I realized that this was a huge step towards making the kids feel more at home in our new house.  A&V are big Lego fans.  There was always a huge pile of Legos waiting for them in our family room in Wisconsin.  A&V would often listen to music and play for hours with those Legos.  Here they were, listening to music and playing for hours with their Legos in our new family room in Granada.

It is summer break in Spain and school it out so it’s a bit tricky to find new friends.  We’ve been quite lucky that they hit it off well with our neighbor’s two sons.  During our toy store trip we picked up 4 water soakers in the hope that A&V would have friends to play with soon enough.  The weather has been hot and perfect for a good water fight.

They were supposed to use the water in the bucket but of course they couldn’t resist using the fountain to reload.
They were supposed to use the water in the bucket but of course they couldn’t resist using the fountain to reload.
Soccer clinic.  Learned that even if Jed is no longer the coach, he can’t help but volunteer.
Soccer clinic. Learned that even if Jed is no longer the coach, he can’t help but volunteer.

Additionally we were able to get A&V into a weeklong soccer clinic.  A&V not only got a few hours to play with some other kids but also some practice listening to native Spanish from their coaches.

It also turned into an excellent exercise in making our way around town via the city bus.

We found that even a few hours spent at the soccer clinic with other kids really improved A&V’s dispositions with each other.

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Our time in Spain is guaranteed to expose our family to new adventures and routines.  I’m also finding that there is a place for old routines.  The old routines are familiar, known and comfortable like hours of playing Legos in the family room.  The new routines provide rhythm to life in our new city like evening trips to the park on the hill, or bus trips home from a soccer clinic.  As parents we are learning to shift our rules for our boys to suit the Spanish lifestyle.  It’s a work in progress but we’re enjoying it so far.

16 thoughts on “Sweating the little things (or little people) – Part 2 – Spain arrival”

  1. Looks like you guys are settling in very well now! Friends are a big thing we missed on our trip this summer. We stayed in an apartment surrounded by kids, and we saw them at the pool across the street often. But our kids didn’t get comfortable enough to talk to them until the last day we were in the apartment and it was time to move to a new apartment.

    That pic of the fresh market looks awesome. See if you can get the kids to pick out a new type of produce and figure out what you can cook with it!

    1. Without fail on every single vacation we’ve been on we find that the kids have the most fun when we slow down the site seeing and just find a park, pool or beach to hang out at for a few hours. They sometimes make new friends for a while, or they act like complete goofballs all on their own. We take along a few extra toys in the backpack just in case. I remember playing frisbee in Washington DC right at the base of the Washington Monument, and playing catch at HTO park in downtown Toronto. I sometimes think that the boys are outgrowing this need but that is not the case. I’m already searching for good parks in Edinburgh for our next trip.
      Great idea about having the boys select a new food and making a new recipe. We’re definitely going to try it out.
      Thanks Justin.

      1. The frequent resting and play breaks were a key part of our “sightseeing with kids” strategy, too. Although it can be challenging when you know there’s a really awesome waterfall/museum/gallery/castle just around the corner and all your kids want to do is play in a fountain or roll around in the grass. 🙂

  2. Glad to see you guys are settling into a nice rhythm over there. Yep..groceries are a nice combination of veggie stalls, local stores and big chains. We rarely buy more than 2 days worth of groceries. Everything is so fresh. Nothing like a good old fashion water fight in the heat! What a wonderful thing to be able to do for your boys.

    1. Absolutely agree on the 2 days of groceries. Even the fruit stand guy doesn’t know what he will have the next day, it depends on what is in season and what looks good. I went back to one fruit stand recently looking for the fantastic mangos that we purchased from him 3 days earlier. He said that he didn’t have them today because there were no good mangos but to check back again in a few days. Next I need to look up a few good ways to prepare figs! They look so yummy.

  3. I just wanted to say hi and congratulations on making it to Granada. I have been quietly stalking your site since I met ‘Buck’ at a mustachian meet up in Madison last year.

    My wife and I are planning 6 months in Korea with our daughters in 2015, so I really appreciate you sharing your tips for the kiddos.

    1. Greg, your adventure sounds great! You’ll have to let us know how we can quieting stalk your adventures 🙂 Adding kids to an expat adventure changes things. You can’t walk around for hours to explore every inch of the city within the first few weeks. You have to do it in little bite size chunks. Jed and I have had to become more patient with our own expectations, and to divide and conquer when needed. I’ve started language classes first since I need the most help, while Jed stayed home with the kids. Jed has explored some of the area hikes with some friends, while I mind the kids. Things will even out a bit more once school begins.
      Side note – Facetime / Skype was a great way for our kids to feel less homesick and friendless during our first few weeks. Our family in the US was wonderfully patient and allowed our boys to Facetime with their cousins for hours a day as necessary. The time and frequency of the Facetime sessions has gone down with each passing week as the boys get more comfortable in our new city and find new routines to replace old routines.
      Good luck with your planning and keep us posted!

    2. Good to hear from you, Greg. Do keep us posted on your whereabouts and adventures. A move abroad with kids is a unique monster so I would really like to hear how it goes for you all (and to scope out another part of this world, of course). Thanks for taking the time to chime in. I hope this note finds you and the family well.

  4. So wonderful to have found your blog! We are considering moving to Granada with our two little boys and teenage girl for many of the same reasons we have read about in your blog. Of course as parents our main concern is how our kids will adjust. Our little boys are very sociable so good to know there are other kids about. They seem to be like your boys in that they make friends wherever they go! I also loved seeing the pic of your boys playing Legos (Ahhhhhh Legos!) Legos, pals, beach and snow, I think they’d be alright! They do speak/understand a little Spanish, but definitely have some catching up to do. My husband is Mexican and I speak a little Spanish as well. Right now they are 2 & 5 years old but we are expecting to make this trip in 1-2 years. My biggest concern is school. We also are trying to keep costs low so we would be looking into public schools as well. Homeschooling would be an option but since they are social boys we’d really like them to be in school with other kids. So we have two very active boys, they are bright and learn quickly but they learn best by being up and about and using their hands, especially my older son. (Personally, I think children learn best through play and active learning). I taught in Mexico and I’m a bit familiar with the style of schools in Latin America which seem to be strict as far as uniform, and sitting in the desk for much of the day (except for gym & recess) doing worksheets, and having to be quiet, etc. I was famous for livening up my class with games and art projects! I’m hoping the schools in Granada allow more group and hands-on learning as opposed to sitting in a desk most of the day. I can’t see my boys writing and sitting quietly all day long! I’d love to hear anything you have to share about public primary schools in Granada! I also like to help out at the school so I’m also curious about parent participation. I know in some countries that is not very common in schools. Since I’m new to your site, maybe you have already made such a post and I just haven’t found it yet! Anyway, THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Wonderful to know we are not alone in our “CRAZY” idea to take our family abroad!!

      1. In progress. I’ve got a ‘school’ post drafted up. People over this winter break have been inundating me with emails and questions about the school, so I know it is long overdue. More coming…

        1. Hey, no rush. 🙂

          You sound like me. I have a post on cruises (to the Caribbean) that’s been in draft form for a month or so and I keep getting asked questions about how we cruise on the cheap (leaving for Bahamas in a couple of days!).

          How is the wintertime weather in Granada? Probably nicer than the midwest USA huh? 🙂

  5. Also, curious about the roads, would a good quality scooter do okay you think on the cobblestones? And by scooters I mean just the typical ones they push off with one foot. Do people ride bikes on the the cobblestone streets? My daughter used to ride her scooter in plazas in Mexico and it seemed to okay. I thought if they could ride their scooters around we might hear a little less whining about all the walking 😉

    1. No-go on the scooter. In other parts of the city, most probably but a definite ‘no’ in our neighborhood. Shoot, there are 130+ stairs in between our house and our local public school and that is probably only an 1/8 mile away. Very few kids in our neck of the woods have bikes and those that do primarily ride them down in town where it is more flat/paved or out in nature. Very little riding is done by kids around the neighborhood. I ride a mountain bike here mainly for transport (road bike wouldn’t survive the cobblestones or stairs) and it has a front suspension. The only others I see biking immediately around here are dressed head-to-spandex and looking for a workout.

      We have friends that live down more into town and have access to a skate park. Their kids have scooters that they use frequently.

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