Una fiesta de cumpleaños

Saturday was fantastic. Saturday was simple. But Saturday made me happy. Perhaps it was the email update I read that morning while in bed from ‘Zen Habits’, a blog I follow with inspiring posts about living simply and happily. The post was about “Contentedness”, something I realized I’ve struggled with while in Spain. I am (generally) a positive person, but this year I’ve become quite pessimistic and have forgotten how to appreciate the little things. I’m always upset about this or frustrated with that or feeling lonely because of the other. Yes, it’s been a difficult year. But it’s also been a wonderful year and Saturday was one of those days where this fact was reiterated, especially with only two weeks left.

View from their front porch…I wouldn’t mind it!

I returned home that night after a wonderful afternoon and evening spent in the company of a Spanish family (and extended family and a whole class of kiddos invited over) for a 9th birthday party! The girl, Sara, is one of the sisters with whom I have private English lessons every Friday. I went to the younger girl’s birthday party in December as well, where I met much of the family the first time, and have been over a few times since then.  The family lives on the second floor of the husband’s mother’s home (did that make sense???). A very Spanish style of life…families are close and they often live in the same house, only separated by floors.  I went over a bit early to eat lunch and then spent a couple hours helping prepare for the birthday party…getting food ready, decorating with balloons, straightening the girls’ hair, etc. Bit by bit, the extended family arrived and many children from Sara’s class. This family has a beautiful home (and fabulous view!) with a large backyard, sports court, garden, and more. Although it had rained all morning, we were lucky when 5 o’clock rolled around and the kids could run and play outside all they wanted (though the wind was a bit chilly). I spent time catching up with the family members that were there, meeting new ones, and was the focus of attention for the little girls as they kept coming up to me…”¿Eres Americana? ¡Que guay! ¿Cómo te llamas? Cuurrrnieee…curnay….cutney….ya” hahah. My name is difficult for the Spaniards to pronounce and I’m quite accustomed to answering to “Corrrney” now (with a rolled ‘r’).

Playing double dutch reminds me of my elementary days…they were playing one about liking some boy, which they changed the name every time and when the rope would pass, they’d go “Sí. No. Sí. No” etc and whichever they landed on meant that they liked or didn’t like that boy. haha

The boys playing ‘soccer’ or ‘fútbol’, whichever you prefer.

So much fun!

After awhile, we headed inside for snacks and the kid-friendly champagne. A bit later, the most fun cake ever….made of different types of candy! We had a real chocolate cake for the candles, too, but the kids only cared about the ‘chuces’. At one point, the two sisters were fighting and all the children were chanting ‘Pelea’, but in three syllables ‘Pe-le-a’, in place of ‘Fight, fight, fight’. Isn’t it amazing how kids are the same everywhere you go??? haha. Including with the gifts…so excited for some and they throw aside others. Being the teacher I am, I bought Sara some books and made a cute little handmade card. All the girls gathered around to read my card in English about nine pretty butterflies, but when Sara opened up books, they were all like “mehhh” and ran off to play. hahah. Sara is a sweet little girl, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said thank you, then asked me to take it inside while she continued playing. Oh, kids. 🙂

Adorable little one with Shirley Temple girls and chubby cheeks. 🙂 And the good ‘mommy’ helping her along!

When the kids had finished with their snacks/cake, it was time for the adults and we all sat around, snacking, chatting, playing with the tiny Chihuahua puppy, drinking their homemade wine, and laughing. I had a great time and also realized how far I’ve come! I actually understood the majority of everything around me, even when some was in Gallego, and contributed my own bits, making jokes and all. (At one point, I accidentally said something in gallego, too, making us laugh.) Granted, they are a wonderful family and I felt comfortable with them, but still….had a great time even while I wasn’t feeling well and told one of Bea’s sisters that I had a “catorro”…..she kept looking confused so I explained with a cough and nose sniffle….”catarro”, she exclaimed! “Catorro” doesn’t exist in the Spanish language…oops. And this was the same sister that only three hours past I was talking to about her eye surgery and asking about her “lentejas”……HAHAHA. let me explain for those of you that don’t know Spanish. I basically asked her about the lentils in her eyes. You know, the tiny beans? Yep….I tend to confuse contact lenses, “lentillas”, with lentils, “lentejas”. We all had a good laugh.  I played with the precious little one called “Irene” with those Shirley Temple curls and helped clean up….when it was time for me to go, we realized I probably wouldn’t see them again before I left and they kept asking when I was coming back. When I said I had no idea but hopefully soon, they demanded I make Galicia my honeymoon spot someday when I got married. I also was scolded by Geno’s mother (who owns the house) for not finding a Galician boyfriend while I was here. hahah.

The baby Chihuahua….or little rat.

Attacking the candy cake!

It felt like a family today. In truth, I barely know these people, yet they share love openly, as well as kisses…. (I’ve received more kisses in Spain than ever before in my life, I swear). I sat there at the table as the sun was going down outside over the water in the bay, with the mountains in the background, and listened to the Spanish chatter around me….which naturally turned to ‘fútbol’ (soccer) and whether Real Madrid or Barcelona was better. (I could care less…living in Spain for a year hasn’t made me a fanatic either way!) The craziness of children and adults everywhere, plus a little rat dog underfoot, made me feel like I was at one of my own family gatherings….though perhaps less chaotic to be honest. I don’t think anyone will ever top my family’s get-togethers! 🙂

The masterpiece

That’s my two cents for today. When I started with a positive attitude, I had a fantastic time and appreciated everything for what it was worth. Now to remember to do that every day and every minute, even when things aren’t so easy. That’s the hard part!!!

Love the garden…I want one.

Where the homemade wine happens…the things covered with cloths are used for pressing (they do white first, then reds because of the stain….the big silver things on the left hold the wine and they also bottle them…)

Empty bottles waiting for this year’s harvest in September!