While some are complaining that I need to go already and shut up about our trip ;)... others are begging for pictures to live vicariously, so... I will share!
We will be spending the most time in Barcelona, and the more I have researched this beautiful city, the more excited I am getting. It has one whole section of the city called the Barrio Gotic or Gothic Quarter which is an amazing little area of medieval, and gothic buildings- so rich in history. There is also a very famous architect names Antoni Gaudi who has designed some impressive albeit unconventional buildings defining Spanish modernism (la modernisma), there is a famous cathedral named La Sagrada Familia that is still not finished that he began almost 140 years ago.
Barcelona is in the Catalonia region, where the people separate themselves from the rest of the spanish considering themselves more refined, less barbaric (not into bull fighting, etc.) and they love food. There is a disproportionate amount of restaurants for the area- oh, darn. There days are very long because they traditionally eat two breakfasts, two lunches, tea, and a late dinner- in other words they begin their dinners around nine or ten and often end around one in the morning. Many restaurants don't even serve dinner until after eight. And by the way, the bars, etc. are plentiful, and it is very common to have a beer even with your second breakfast, huh?? But, Barcelona is right on the coast, with miles of mediterrannean beaches and supposedly fantastic fresh seafood, but they are most famous for their paella, and their tapas, various small appetizer like dishes (which sounds fabulous until you realize that many of them are made with sardines and anchovies, we'll see). And they supposedly have this amazing Catalonia bread, where they smear bread with garlic, and tomatoes, and drizzle with oilve oil- sounds good to me! They are also famous for their cured meats, including Iberian ham. And I've already located the Xocolateria where they serve a thick hot chocolate that you dip churros into, and other famous chocolate and pastry shops, yum!
There is a famous street called Las Ramblas that is busy with shops, restaurants, bars, fresh flowers, and a famous fresh market that is one of the largest in Europe called La Boqueria. We are staying in a hotel very close to this most busy and bustling part of Barcelona... should be so fun!! And there is your small education about what we can expect in Barcelona... and then we board our ship and venture into other great parts of the Mediterrannean, more on that later!
Chris made fun of me the other day for suddenly yelling from the bathroom- "I love soft toilet paper!" Anyone who has used the facilities in my house knows that it is usually stocked with nice, soft toilet paper... for very silly reasons, the last couple weeks, it has been stocked with sub par toilet paper. Finally, my sub par stash has run out... and without even thinking I rejoiced at the difference of the fresh, soft, new roll! It truly is the simple things that make me happy!! And one of the things I'm going to miss in Europe apparently...
A few other simple luxuries that make me very happy- yummy, filtered drinking water, a comfortable mattress piled with down pillows, Hot Cocoa from my Cocomotion in the morning, my good smelling shampoo (Rosemary Eucalyptus), and one of my favorite things I couldn't live without- Microfiber Scrub Dishcloths! Some things are just worth the extra little bit of money... what simple luxuries make you smile??
Isabelle's sisters were very worried about Belle's birthday since we were not planning a friend party for her. They were afraid she was missing out or somehow being deprived- let me assure you that she is in no way deprived, in fact she was spoiled rotten!!
I redecorated her whole bedroom, and am still finishing an awesome quilt for it. We also got her a new pink bike with matching pink helmet! And a cute new outfit complete with new shoes! Grandma Grace sent her a special music box, and couldn't decide between two, so apparently another one is still on it's way. Grandma Connie and Grandpa Mark got her her very own guitar! And she loves it, Chris was trying to teach her some chords last night. And her Aunt Patty took her by herself for a day of shopping, she was planning on getting her an outfit, and Isabelle came home with 3 cute outfits complete with accessories, and they even went to lunch!
So, yes, Isabelle had a fantastic birthday that dragged out for more than a month of gifts, and she was absolutely spoiled rotten!! Thanks everyone for showing such love and care towards Isabelle! She is growing too fast into such a pretty and smart girl!
Abby has been asking for a Monkey from Build-A-Bear for almost as long as I can remember--- wasn't she elated when Grandma Grace got her a gift certificate for Christmas. (I've been promising to post these pics for almost as long- Oops ;) But in procrastinating Heidi fashion- here they are! She loves her Monkey, named Hannah in honor of her cousin, (who had just left prior to making the monkey). She has since taken "Hannah" to show and tell at school, and can hardly sleep at night without her, and you can't see it in the pics, but even got "Hannah" a sparkle monkey shirt, which happens to match one that Abby has... Build-A-Bear is overrated and overpriced, but a genius idea, and the kids love it, what do you do?
“Make new friends but keep the old ones; one is silver and the other's gold” Proverb
My mom says that her friends are her "chosen family." Through the years that idea has become more important to me. Since we live so far from most of our family, we've had to improvise our support group through the years. Until Sonny and Patty moved here, we didn't even have family to share holiday meals with. I remember cooking full Easter ham dinners for Chris and I, and a baby or two. But I also remember sharing my first attempts at a complete Thanksgiving dinner with friends also lacking family to share with. What is a good meal without someone to share it with?
We've had some small and some larger personal disasters happen- and when there isn't family close by to rely on, who do you turn to? With the perfect view of hindsight- I can see how hard some times were with seemingly no one to call, but I can contrast that with those grateful moments when there was someone I (we) could rely on. Whether it was as simple as calling a hairstylist friend after Abigail gave herself a mullet, or having a friend drop everything to take the kids to school when one of us was in an accident, to simply bringing a cute bowl full of chocolate to make me smile even though my basement was flooded, or good friends wanting to throw me a baby shower for my first boy even though it was my fourth child, or even offering to take the girls overnight while I had that boy! I just hope I've been able to reciprocate some of these great and small kindnesses and be as good a friend to them as they have been to me.
When we were in the process of moving to our new home, I was admittedly apprehensive and worried. We had been in our first house for almost seven years, and in that time I had cultivated some great friendships- even though I was only moving a matter of a few miles away (if that), I knew everything would be different. I was worried about how much I would stay in touch with my old friends, how long it would take to make new friends, if I would make any great friends in my new neighborhood- you know, the usual...when I was trying to make myself more optimistic about that aspect of the move, I would tell Chris, who knows, maybe my best friend that I've never met is building next door to us- I was pretty close ;)...now, it's a year later... I can happily say that I've been so blessed with not only maintaining some great old friendships but making some great new friends as well.
I'm also so blessed with such a fabulous family (but that is for a different post), I mention that because I've been lucky to also call many of my family friends. As many of you know, Sonny is Chris' only brother and when he and his wife moved here to Payson at the end of 2004, we were SO excited to finally have some family around! Nevertheless, Patty and I didn't actually know each other that well, and as anyone who has in laws can attest- that can go either way. Lucky for me, Patty is one of the most fabulous, greatest, wonderful people that I know! We've become fast friends and I couldn't ask for a better sister in law! We have so much fun planning and conspiring, even when it overwhelms our husbands which brings me to another random thought. We joke that we are the only ones in the world who could understand each other since we are the only two in the world married to those Maloy boys! (Sorry, Sonny and Chris- but come on, you know what I'm talking about ;) So I am truly grateful for Patty and her friendship!
And exciting for me, my sister Nicole and her family are moving here to Utah next week (another domino has fallen ;). While anyone who shared a seminary class with us can confirm, we didn't always get along perfectly, but for the majority of our lives- we've been very close and are also great friends- I even took her with me when I ran away from home when I was 4 (?). I know this is a big change for them, but am so happy to have them around now too. Our fun and crazy little family gatherings in Utah are growing! Yahoo...
It's interesting to me to see the wonderful friends who have popped into and sometimes out of my life at different times, and how all of them have left their mark on the person that I am today. I've talked, and laughed, and cried, and learned, and grown, and received such a richer and fuller life through the many different and wonderful people that I've been lucky enough to call "friend." And I will continue to try to live up to deserving and reciprocating their friendship.
It seems that I have two speeds... I haven't quilted in awhile and have had a hard time getting motivated until recently. When Chris went to Cali, there was going to be a big shower for his favorite cousin so I decided the day before he left to whip together a baby quilt, I started it on Thursday and finished it Friday morning before he left. The following week, I had a double shower for a couple neighbor friends- so I whipped together two more baby quilts- one Wednesday night and one Thursday morning (shower on Thurs. night). I then decided to get going on a quilt for a niece born a "few" months ago now, and another one for my BFF who is due in May. Then I decided I need to put together some simple baby quilts to have on hand so I'm not whipping them together the night before, especially since at least half of everyone I know is pregnant!
Also, since we've juggled all our beds and rooms- I now have a handful of quilts to make for the house- and I really need to finish Isabelle's quilt. I was hoping to have it done for her birthday but the kitchen shower messed that up and then I got distracted with baby quilts, anyway... so I'm now on full speed quilting craziness! Here are a couple pics of what I've done in the past week and a half, and not even of my two favorites!