Friday, October 31, 2008

5 more days!!

We're leaving next Wednesday. Time is just flying along. I've finally started to think about what we're going to pack. Not too much. Although, we aren't moving around quite as much as the last time we went to Europe; it would still be nice not to have to be burdened by bulky, heavy suitcases. We're also thinking of picking up some new threads over there. We heard the shopping was great!

We also just arranged where we're going to meet up with our friend, Tim. Near the Don Quixote statue!!! Isn't that the coolest? Well, I've never read Don Quixote...have you? So, I'm going to get it out of the library and bring it along.

It's going to be my neice, Elyssa's 1st birthday on Monday. Wow, that went fast! Here's a recent pic of her.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weather Comparison

I was going to write about how I'd rather be in Spain right now as they are forecasting a huge dumping of wet snow overnight tonight, here in Ottawa. But in Spain it's supposed to be rainy and 10 degrees this week ... which is a lot better. BUT on Friday, in Ottawa, it's going to be 15 degrees and sunny! That's a lot better than the forecast for Spain.

All things considered, it looks like our weather is comparable and while, it would be nice to go to some hotspot, at least it won't be quite as much of shocker when we return.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is what our view is going to be like from our hotel in San Sebastian. Wow! Ok, so we may not get this view from our room but we'll be close to this view and when we go outside we'll see this view. San Sebastian is located on the northern coast of Spain. It's part of the Basque area of Spain which has it's own unique culture. You may have heard of the Basque people because they have this inherent need to preserve their culture. They often riot. I think that they wish to be their own country ... sound like anyone else we know?

I'm excited to see San Sebastian for the beautiful beach area. Also, for this place called Chez Croissant which we will have to hit up for breakfast. Croissants are one of the main attractions in Europe. They taste completely different. Especially accompanied by the tiniest cup of cafe creme that you can imagine. It's so anti-American/Canadian. They do other things mega-size like these ....

Jamon!! They just love their smoked ham. It's hanging everywhere. Even in the airport(we saw them in Barcelona) ... although I doubt we'd be able to take a leg home with us.

While we're in San Sebastian, we'll be taking a day trip to Bilbao. Bilbao is where one of the Guggenheim musem's is located. It was designed by Canadian architect, Frank Gehry.

It's going to be crazy to see this in real life. It'll probably take us all day just to digest this building. We may go in and see the art that it holds too:) The other thing to see in Bilbao is this crazy bridge.

Well, just over a week until we head out. All we've done is book our hotel and plane tickets. We've done nothing else to get ready. I'm just not sure what else to do to get ready. I'm hoping there will be time to shop when we're there because I'm going to take minimal clothes along and stock up. Madrid is supposed to have great shopping!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hostal Santillan

Ok, everybody ...take a little gander at the cute little airplane flying over on the right sidebar. Do you see what it says? It says that there are only 14 more sleeps until we hop aboard the first leg of our journey!!!!! Unfortunately, the first leg is my most dreaded part because it's a little jaunt to Montreal in a 27 seater prop plane. BOO!!! Too much turbulence. No matter, it will be over before I know it, right?

I've finally managed to secure a room in Madrid. The place is called Hostal Santilla (click here if you want to check it out). Although you might think this is a hostel, hostal actually means boarding house in Spanish. I've read a bunch of reviews and it sounds like a pretty good place to stay, especially for considerably less than $100/night, which is our goal and the fact that we get our own bathroom.

Our cousin, Brianna Veldkamp, who is currently studying in St. Andrews, Scotland is also going to be joining us for the Madrid portion of our trip. Woohoo!! Should be fun. After that she is continuing on to Ireland for the rest of her reading week. I'm so jealous!! Someday, Reuben and I will definitely be checking out the British Isles.

That's all the updates for now ... things are falling into place.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Squirrels do not belong in offices . . .

Just a few minutes ago, I was working away at my computer (ie. checking blogs) when all of a sudden I heard a scuffling noise and then a skittering noise. I froze. I couldn't bring myself to look around because I was so afraid I would see a little mouse staring at me ... ready to pounce ... mice attack people, you know. My colleagues leave their windows open all the time because they like the fresh air and have often talked about the mice visiting them to get out of the cold or to explore the various food items that might have been left out. We are on the ground floor. So, anyway, I finally got up the courage to look around when out of the corner of my eye I saw a black "thing". I stood up and there was a big, black SQUIRREL, with a long, bushy tail looking quite nervous and disoriented. I spoke loudly "Get out of here, you dumb squirrel" and "Don't come back now y'hear!!!" and as it scurried out into the hallway, I closed my door firmly and trembling walked back to my desk.

What to do, what to do. I knew my colleague was in her office down the hall so I quickly sent her an email telling her there was squirrel wandering the halls (she doesn't use her phone). And then after a few minutes, I cautiously opened my door and looked down the hall in apprehension. My colleague was walking down the hall so I said to her "There's a squirrel in here, eh?" and she said she had noticed it in the hall from the corner of her eye and went to investigate. By the way, she is a lover of all things rodent-sized and up. She even feeds the squirrels, chipmunks and ground hogs that roam our campus. So, she said she saw it go into an empty room so she went in after it and opened all the windows and gently maneuvered the squirrel towards them. Phew! Then she went on to tell me about how every once in a while 2 mice come in through her window to see if she has any food lying around and she'll feed them and then they'll be on their way. SHUDDER!! Hmmm...I wonder how the squirrel got in.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend Revisited

We had a very relaxing weekend with family and friends. On Friday afternoon, Diana, Mike, Hadassah and Nethaneil arrived. We were waiting anxiously for them. We couldn't believe how much the kids had changed.

Nethaneil had lots of smiles for us ... the cutest dimples! He is now 3 months old and can hold is head up and back stiff quite well. He doesn't fuss too much and when he does, it's just a cute little whimper. Hadassah loves to give him kisses and tries to help change his diaper.

Hadassah is a little rascal with a cute grin and a mischeivous look but if she doesn't get her way, the siren goes off. She's pretty good though. When you get her giggling, she's hard to resist.

On Saturday morning, we got up and Hadassah decided to read Nethaneil a story.

Then we all went out for breakfast at the local greasy spoon. I had Eggs Florentine. It wasn't that great.

The kids were good. Hadassah had a great breakfast of jam and toast while Nethaneil just hung around on everyone's lap.

That afternoon, we welcomed the Vanderheides (a missionary family) into our home and we promptly fed them a Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner. They are from Australia and are working in Papua New Guinea.

On Sunday, we relaxed and had a crowd over for dinner, again. On Monday, we whipped up a great waffle/egg/bacon/whipped cream/fruit frenzy and ate to our hearts content. Then Diana and Mike packed the kids up and took off for home.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Of Engagements

My little brother, Richard, finally popped the question to his girlfriend of 5 years, Emma!! So even though we've always included her as part of our family, now it's official! Well, almost official. Congratulations, you guys! Love you both and best wishes with all your plans.

Thanksgiving plans UDPATED

It turns out that my brother-in-law's sister and her family are not coming this weekend so that brings our Thanksgiving total down to 17 people. Which is still a lot but not totally unheard of in my parents' home. That also means, my sister and her family will be staying with us which will be nice. I can't wait to wake up to the kids' smiling faces in the morning ... and maybe a cuddle or two:)

I'm planning to bake an apple pie tonight ... from scratch, crust and all. I've done it before and it doesn't scare me, like it does some people. I just pull out my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (which, incidently, was the first Christmas present Reuben ever bought me) and follow the directions and it usually works out.

I also read this great recipe for Apple Cream Cheese squares that I might try out. And I'm going to make roasted sweet potatoes for the dinner. My mom is doing the rest of the cooking on Saturday while we all go hiking. The weather is supposed to be fantastic so I'm looking forward to that.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thanksgiving plans

We have a truckload or vanload ...well, actually, a busload of people coming for the weekend. My sister and her family are 4 people. My brother-in-law's sister and her family are 4 people. A missionary family who my parents are hosting are 7 people. Plus us, my parents, my brother and his fiancee(yes, they got engaged!!!!) are 6 people. That's a total of 21 people spread over 3 homes but probably coming together for at least a couple of meals. It'll be a little chaotic to say the least.

We plan to do some hiking maybe here at the Mill of Kintail. Say that out loud, doesn't it sound like a magical place. It's close to the town of Almonte.

We plan to do some eating... turkey, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing, applie pie, etc.

We plan to some more eating ... bacon, eggs, waffles, syrup, whipping cream, fresh fruit.

Maybe we should do some more hiking after all that eating because I don't know what else we're going to do with all those kids.

My nephew and neice are coming. I haven't seen them in almost 2 months. This is what they look like now.

No kidding!!! Aren't they beautiful?!!! I'm not sure I can wait 3 more sleeps.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Spain trip - UPDATE

We bought our TICKETS!!! Plane tickets to Madrid!!! We are leaving Wednesday, November 5 and will be home Saturday, November 15.
I'm busy planning, planning, planning. Tips anyone??
Not knowing the language is scaring me a little but thankfully, we have our man on the ground, who will be able to translate (hopefully?).