Sunday, June 24, 2007

One Year of Joy

Iain turned one on June 7th! It is hard to believe that he is already one year old. I thought I'd be really sad, but Brian and I are learning that our love grows with him. Those first days were wonderful, but we each day he is learning and growing and we are getting to see him develop as a person. It is so amazing to be such a crucial factor in that process. I'm praying that God will help us as the years pass and challenges grow. I pray that he will love the Lord and seek to serve him all the days of his life.

Iain now has 4 teeth, which look soon to be 6. It's funny because his bottom front teeth came in and now is eye teeth are about halfway out, and the top front are just about to break through. We're calling him baby fangs! I'm glad that it won't be for long-- since his top front didn't come in when they were supposed to, I was worried they'd be seriously delayed. His vampire days are numbered.

All his developmental energies are now fixated on standing and walking. He is getting really good at pulling up and cruising and can stand alone for a few seconds. He loves it when we walk him around; he takes quick, happy, marching steps. It's time to get this baby some shoes!

On his actual birthday we went over to Stanmer Park to feed the ducks, who were surprisingly uncooperative and didn't want anything to do with us! We did have a nice walk around and Iain enjoyed crawling around in the grass.

After playing in Stanmer Park, we headed back over the hill for cake and presents.

Here's the unsuspecting caterpiller cake. Little did he know what was about to befall him...

Iain says "Hey, what is this thing?"

"This is pretty fun!"

Of course, the bath afterwards was not as much fun. Such is life!

We had his birthday party on the 16th. We were hoping for warm weather as we'd planned a BBQ and I'd bought a kiddie pool, but it was cloudy and chilly. It felt more like an autumn cook out than a summer one! We had about 40 people from our neighborhood, church, and uni over. We put the food in our flat and in the covered corridor outside and grilled behind our house. We had a good time despite the weather. Everybody brought lots of food and our friends Lizzie and Sophie helped to plan the party.

Enjoying more birthday cake!

Iain also really like the balloons at his party!

The lovely wooden train that our friends bought him!

By the end of the party, Iain was very tired! Here he is fussying at me as I cleaned up the flat! He is saying, "I'm tired Mama!"

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Take a Holiday in Spain... Days 5-7

I'm getting terribly behind on posting and I'm beginning to forget the details, but I'll do my best to remember as much as I can. Here is the final installment in our holiday story.

On Wednesday we visited two small villages in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Bezalu and Rupit. Both have a feeling of a bygone era. Bezalu was quite an important town in the middle ages, but politics changed, and as its region lessened in importance, Bezalu stopped growing. To do this day, the town is primarily medieval in architecture and layout. Of course, this makes it a popular tourist destination. The fortified bridge was built on existing rocks in the river, and that gives it a crooked charm.
You can see the rest of the town behind me.
We stopped at a tea shop and had real Catalonian hot chocolate. It was as thick as Hershey's syrup, and oh so dark. They give you a little sugar packet so you can sweeten it. So delicious. It was fun sitting in such an old building that was still being used.

The streets were small and twisty.

This is an interior view of one of several churches in Bezalu.

After wandering around the whole town and poking our heads into all the shops we had lunch and headed off to the even tinier village of Rupit. Here's Iain happy and ready to travel some more. What a good baby!

Rupit is quite touristy these days. It is a tiny village with an enormous coach park! Lucky for us, we visited during siesta, so we were the only ones there and we got to enjoy its charm all by ourselves. Rupit is quite high up and is surrounded by gorgeous countryside. The homes are all made of stone and the city is quite hilly. Note the rope bridge in the next photo.
Nearly every house had a window box or hanging pot of red geraniums. Lovely.

After exploring the town and enjoying the views, it was time to head back to Pineda. Brian spoke about how Isaac represents our Savior.
On Thursday morning we headed to the beach for a swim. It was cold, but refreshing! Iain enjoyed playing in the sand again.

I love this picture because you can see the track he made crawling in the sand.
Daddy took Iain swimming again and he didn't like it very much. He hung on tight to Papa!

Later that day the group went into Barcelona. I must say that Brian and I have fallen in love with that city and would to spend more than just a half day there sometime. It had such a lovely relaxed feel to it and was similar to Rome in having many beautiful fountains and monuments scattered throughout the city just waiting for you to stumble upon them.

Here is the iconic structure of Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia. Mostly designed by Gaudi, work on La Sagrada began in 1882. Gaudi died in 1926, and construction is ongoing. You can see the cranes in the picture. We didn't have time to go in, but we definitely could have spent several hours looking at just the outside of this basilica. It is loaded with symbolism.

After visiting La Sagrada we climbed back on the bus and headed off to see another Gaudi creation, Parc Guell. After visiting Villa Borghese in Roma and now Parc Guell in Barcelona, I'm convinced that local parks should be on our list of places to see when we visit new cities. It was fun to see all the locals enjoying the park. We saw some funky architecture and views of Barcelona. Again, the time was too short!

Next was Las Ramblas, a very famous pedestrian street. Although definitely a tourist attraction, we were surprised to see that plenty of locals frequented pet shops, flower stalls, and a market right there on Las Ramblas. Here at the end of the street you can see the Christopher Columbus column. He is pointing out over the port of Barcelona. Pretty cool, huh?

Here's a photo of the market. There were loads of stalls like this with cheap fresh produce. We bought several fresh squeezed juices for 1 Euro. They were amazing and we haven't had anything similar since we left home.

There were loads of street performers as well. Here's Atlas. There were many of the statute variety-- frozen until you drop some money in their cup and then they begin some jerky movements.
After wandering Las Ramblas we stopped and shared tapas (many small plates of Spanish food) with some friends from the group. They were delicious!

Last stop in Barcelona was the Palau Nacional, which is now an art an art museum. We weren't there for the museum, but for the fountains in front of it. Every night in the summer they have a fountain show with water and light that is choreographed to classical music. It was one of those pinch-me-I'm-dreaming moments of beauty.

Sitting on the steps of the Palau Nacional waiting for the show to start.

Out of all the beautiful things we saw, I think that sitting on the steps of that palace surrounded by those beautiful fountains and that lovely architecture as the sun turned the sky into melted gold was my favorite thing that we did. We got back to the hotel quite late that night!

Friday was most of the group's last day on holiday. Brian had work to do, but when he had some free time, we did manage to meander around Pineda again. And were we glad we did. We discovered a great deli/bakery that we had missed all week! Look at these beautiful cakes! Which would you choose for 1.50 euro ($2.00)?
We had a cake and another beautiful cup of chocolate la taza. This time I got a picture!

Iain says, "Hey, where's my share?"

Saturday was our last day and we decided to take a train ride since the tracks run right along the beach. We didn't have much time, so we only went a few stops up. The water was almost as pretty as the caribbean.
Iain trying yet again to take off the hat that Mama and Papa kept insisting he wear.

It was a great vacation and we are so glad that we got a little taste of Spain.