Monday, September 23, 2013

Normalcy in the Adventure

I am thankful that our kids have remained happy, flexible, and have seemed to enjoy this adventure. I understand from other family travelers that this does not always happen with young travelers.  Changing home environments, trying new foods, coupled with the rigor of sight-seeing and learning from new cultures can just throw some kids into an over-stimulated, not knowing what to expect frenzy. We have had our moments of whining, have experienced pure exhaustion; but we have not had any meltdowns to date (fingers crossed we can make it the duration without any).

So, what factors do I think have made the difference? First, keeping some normalcy in the craziness. In each city that we stay in we have a "house."  We call it home while we are living there.  We have the kid's room and our bedroom.  In addition, we have done the same nightly routine since we brought the kids home from the hospital.  We eat dinner, do bath time, read stories, pray, sing, sleep. We have not varied from this except when it is absolutely necessary.
Amelie and Liam are sharing a bedroom again in Valencia.  
We also throw into our schedule things that we would be doing if we were actually home like frequenting the playground or watching a movie together. This also includes cooking foods that are familiar like spagetti and black beans/rice.  We have learned when to push our kids to be flexible in the midst of new things, but also when to embrace familiar things too.  I'm still learning that it's all about a good balance.
Liam packing his toys in the apartment in Lisbon.
So, moving day always is an exciting day full of unknowns and apprehensions as to what the new place (city and home) will be like.  On Sept 7th, we loaded up in a taxi to head to the Lisbon airport at 9:30 a.m. (this is a much more respectable hour than our 3:00 a.m. trip to Lisbon).  We ate a delicious McDonald's breakfast in the airport with nata's for our dessert.  We just had to enjoy nata's one last time.  The plane ride was quick...1 hour.  Once we arrived in Valencia we did not have a good way to communicate with our hosts so we took a chance and just showed up at the apartment.  After trying every buzzer on the intercom without any luck, a resident felt pity on us and let us (and all of our luggage) into the building.  Bobby then proceeded to go from floor to floor, door to door, trying to ask in broken Spanish if anyone knew our hosts.  We finally had luck and were able to text our hosts who showed up within a couple of minutes to let us in and show us around.  The couple is around our age with a 20 month old boy and another baby on the way.  We enjoyed trying to talk to them in our broken Spanish and their broken English while our kids made themselves at home by running from one end of the apartment to the other.  (Have you noticed a theme that my kids love to run?)

We learned how to use the appliances, where to hang the laundry, where to take out the trash, how to work the A/C (yes, we finally have A/C again!), and a couple of recommendations of what to do/where to eat nearby.  We were pretty pleased with our new place.
We now hang our laundry out doors.  It is over an enclosed private patio.  After being here 2 weeks, I have only lost a couple of clothespins but no clothes.  We did have a bird pooping fiasco the other day so that is a bummer to have to re-wash, but the clothes usually dry super fast outside in the sun. 
One of our favorite features is the coffee machine.  You press a button and it grinds the coffee beans and then makes your coffee.  After drinking dissolved coffee in Lisbon, this coffee is like gold!
Our hosts were kind enough to offer us a cot, high chair, beach umbrellas, and these large foam puzzle pieces.  The kids have loved making tunnels, hop-scotch, bus stops, basketball goals, robot outfits, and more.

We love the balcony and our location.  We love listening to the bells chime from the nearby church,  we love being so close to the beach and harbor (you can see the water at the end of the street), we love watching the bikes driving by on the bike path seen in green, and more.
I love Valencia.  It is a beautiful city.  Instead of taking public transportation, we have rented bikes for the month.  The city is extremely biker friendly with bike lanes and Turia park for easy access to all points of the city.  I really love Valencia. ;)

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