Friday, September 14, 2012

Hannah's Room

Yep, even though she is the states at college, we still have a room she can call hers.  When she is not here we'll enjoy the use for a guest room (or a spouse run away room when the other is "sleeping" just a little too loud).  The curtains need hemming and the rug needs to be a little bigger and it needs some pictures - but there are no boxes, no tools, and it feels good when you walk into it.  Actually, what I really need is an interior decorator to now come behind me and add the pretty touches.  Anyone interested in a trip to Spain to decorate?

School for Alex

Many have asked "why don't you know where Alex is going to school?"  So, I thought I would do a primer on school registration in Spain.  At first, it is easy to proclaim that the process is just crazy, but the further into it you wade, the more it "makes sense" in a Spanish sense  We are learning to say "it's different" and embrace the difference without the comparison to what is natural for us.  It sure is a lot less stressful with that mindset.

So, back to school registration.  We knew at the end of last school year Alex would not return to school where he attended last year, but did not know where he would attend.  Lacking the name of a new school we were required to accept a position in his old school - just in case something didn't go as planned he would be guaranteed a spot.

Then, when we finally had a house rented in our new town we began the registration process here.  We gathered all our paperwork and went to the school of our choice and turned it in (this was July 10).  They told us to come back the first week of September to see where we had been assigned.  Side note:  Unlike in the US, you are not assigned a  school based on your address, you are assigned a school based on where there is a vacancy.  You will get a school in your town - but you could pass 10 other schools on the way to yours.  Here in Illescas there are only two choices, so we knew we would get one of those, just not sure which.

Now we were able to officially un-enroll him from his previous school (which by the way was required before we enrolled him in a new school - makes sense, can only be enrolled in one school).  Scott filled out the paperwork relinquishing his place in original school, but again, because we did not have a new school assignment, only a portion of the process could be completed.  They could not issue a certificate of transfer because no one knew where we were transferring.

We returned the first week of September and was told that they had not made any assignments for students who requested schools during the summer and to return the next week.  We returned the 2nd week of September and were told that assignments had still not been made and that although school officially began in the middle of that week, we should return on Friday.

Alex's New School
Finally, today (Friday) we returned and were given a place in our first choice school.  God is good!  We had decided to not fret over either school, to just rest in His ability to navigate the system without our help.  So, now we have a place, but we are not registered.

We then "bought" our registration packet (only 1 euro to help cover the cost of the official envelope and etc) and sat in a corner and completed the paperwork.  We discovered we were short two things - a picture of Alex (there are picture kiosks everywhere as almost all government paperwork requires a picture) and a certificate of transfer (see above).  So, Alex headed down the street and got his picture while I finished the paperwork, but we were unable to finish the registration process due to lacking the certificate.

Next stop, calling the old school to determine how to get the certificate.  But uh oh, it is nearly noon on a Friday and the lady who processes these certificates only works 9:00 - 11:30 and you must request the certificate in person on one day and pick it up the next.  After explaining we were an hour away the secretary kindly gave us directions for how to request the document via e-mail, but adamantly explained it would still not be available until Tuesday and without proper identification we would not be able to pick it up on Tuesday.

So, email is sent and I have received a confirmation that the form will be ready on Tuesday.  Tuesday I will drive to the old school (with documentation in hand) to pick up his certificate of transfer.  Will hopefully make it back to the new school before the end of the secretary hours to submit his registration paperwork and then we will hold our breath as we wait to hear what the next steps are.

We know we will have to wait to be assigned to a group of students (students stay together all day, teacher's travel) and we will have to purchase all of our textbooks.  We'd love for Alex to start school next Wednesday, only a week late, but we will be excited for him to just attend any next week.

It's all a learning process and a chance to practice lots of Spanish.  It's a chance to stop and learn how Spanish minds think and process.  It's a chance to meet new people.  It's a reminder that life moves slower here and it is ok.  It's a chance to put a little more trust in God.  And mostly, its a reminder that I can fuss and fume because life is not how I am used to, or I can embrace my new culture, love each person I encounter, and be eternally grateful that I am blessed to have the opportunity to live in Spain.  I think I'll chose the latter option.

Check back next week - hopefully the headlines will read Alex Went to School!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dining Room

 One more room is finished!  Well, finished minus the need for some decorating now - perhaps some kind of area rug and something on the walls - but we have furniture, curtains, and lighting!  Scott did a great job with the Japanese panels, but he is also glad that he is finished with that project!

Monday, September 10, 2012


After two solid days of work I can finally proclaim the office finished (or at least finished minus hanging the curtains and buying an extension cord).  It feels so good to walk into this room and know that it will be possible to be productive again.  I have missed having a work space (other than the end of the dining room table).   Now to attack the expense report!

Loving all those cubbies!  I am an organization fanatic!  Besides, next to impossible to find file cabinets here, so made do with cubbies and boxes!  The desktop computer came with us from the states - after several trips to the shop (wrong power supply for use here) it is great to have it up and running!

The yellow chair quickly folds out into a single bed.
Making room for friends and teams!


So, I am a doer!  Anybody who knows me knows that.  Always a to do list, always trying to accomplish something, always needing to see progress.   This is a great trait when you are in a job that requires constant production.  It isn't such a great trait when you enter a season of life that has little to do with WHAT you can visibly accomplish.

And that is the description of this season of language learning and job transition.  There are of course tasks that can be written down and checked off.  Even at times, in a short span of time.  But the majority of this season is about slow progress and unseen accomplishments.

Yesterday, when reading the Bible I came across this verse :

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other the fragrance of life."  (2 Cor 2:15-16)

A refreshing reminder to this "doer."  God is using this season, whether I can see it or not - the question is am I allowing him to use it as a fragrant aroma or a stinky mess.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


One of the hardest losses when learning a new language is laughter.  In the beginning, my vocabulary was so limited that I couldn't understand enough of a story or a joke to know whether it was funny or not.  Solution, if everyone around you is laughing, then laugh.

Then, as my vocabulary grew, I could follow the conversation, but had to work so hard at translating, by the time I realized it was funny, everyone else was finished laughing and I got some odd looks when I would then laugh.  Of course, the solution was still - laugh when everyone else laughed and pray that it was appropriate to laugh.

Then last night I laughed - at the right time and because I knew it was funny.  Somewhere in the middle of the laughter I realized, "hey, I'm laughing at a funny story that I understand what it is about."  We were at a birthday celebration and another guest was telling a story of when their pool had a leak and they stopped the leak with cinnamon chewing gum.  The story was hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Later, I realized how much you miss laughing when learning a new language. Laughter is good for the soul, the heart, the mind, and the body.  It is good for my mood and is so encouraging in language learning.  The whole evening seemed to much more fun after starting the evening with true laughter. 

I can't wait for the next "true laughter" moment!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cars and Bikes

Never bored at the Hunter house!

The temperatures are cooling down and I am once again focusing on losing a little more weight (personal shout out - have lost nearly 20 pounds since arriving in Spain and would like to lose 20 more :) ), so invited Alex to go for a bike ride last night.  Scott is still nursing a hurt back, so he stayed home.  Needless to say, I grew tired way before Alex, so I returned home and he went to do one more time around the block.

Just as I got home my cell phone rang (we require Alex to always wear a helmet and always have his cell phone with him) and I jokingly said "please don't be Alex and he be hurt."  Needless to say it was him and the first words out of his mouth were "I was hit by a car."  My heart stopped beating and I had enough sense to say "are you hurt?"  He assured me he wasn't and told me where he was.

Side note, our car is in the shop - every time you unlock the car the trunk door opens - so we were without a car.  I got back on my bike and Scott started walking.

Sure enough, overall he was ok.  Lots of scrapes and bruises and is sore today, but nothing serious.  However, when we began to converse with the driver of the car, he wanted us to take full responsibility for the accident and pay for the damage to his car (the passenger side window broke when Alex's shoulder hit it and there is a scrape from the bike).  Alex's version of the story at best made the accident the driver's fault, and at worse they both shared fault.  Due to our limited Spanish we called our teammate who joined us at the site.

After more discussion, the driver decided to call the police (this is not required in Spain unless both parties do not agree to the circumstances in an accident).  The police came and after another 30+ minutes of standing on the corner (did I happen to mention I was still in bike clothes - not the clothes I wear with friends and definitely not in public?), the police explained what would happen next:

  • we were required to take Alex to the Health Center (aka emergency room in a small town) to be checked
  • after the doctor saw him we would need to bring the papers to the police station
  • the police would then process the report to the judge (who also does detective work, not just ruling) and the driver's insurance company
  • together the judge and insurance company would decide fault and who needed to pay for what
We are so grateful to God that Alex was not seriously hurt - he was coming down a pretty steep hill and could have been seriously injured.  We are grateful for teammates who dropped everything and helped with translation and driving until nearly 11:00.  And we were grateful that Telepizza was still open, because when it was all over we were all starving - dinner hour had been missed.