Sunday, September 16, 2012

An update two months later....

My sincere apologies to my few loyal readers who may have been checking in to this blog for the past couple of months to find absolutely NO activity.  I have many reasons for my absence, the main one being.........

I'm pregnant with Baby #2!

We found out on July 13th and I just couldn't bring myself to keep posting throughout our "secret" period of waiting out the first trimester.  I did confess to coworkers and some friends and family throughout the summer for various reasons, but I didn't want to make it 100% public on the interwebs until we were absolutely sure that this was a viable pregnancy and that we were out of the woods in terms of threat of miscarriage.

I did snap this picture of Manuela and her hilarious reaction to the positive pregnancy test:

I'm now a couple of weeks into my 2nd trimester and feeling great.  I had a pretty good first trimester with very little nausea.  I was very nervous about miscarrying given that I had a quick and  tightly scheduled trip to the U.S., alone with Manuela, mainly for work, during my 10th week of pregnancy.  In order to go into the trip armed with a little assurance that everything was going to be OK, I went to the hospital during my 8th week, claiming cramping symptoms, in order to get an ultrasound.  Unfortunately, these are the kinds of dishonest tricks you have to pull in the public health system, despite my request to have an ultrasound before my trip, which they were unfortunately completely inflexible on.  Otherwise, I would have had to pay 120 Euros for an "off schedule" ultrasound at a private clinic.  I was able to see the baby's heartbeat and was told everything looked really good, and that was all I needed to make it through my trip, and last until September 5th when we had our 12 week ultrasound (the first you get through Spain's public health system).  I understand why the system has to be inflexible, given recent government cuts in public health, but it really is a shame that they don't offer women who have suffered previous miscarriages, the choice to have an earlier ultrasound, if only for the psychological peace of mind.

Our trip home was a whirlwind but we managed to get some great quality time in with most of my family and a few friends.  Manuela did great on both long trips except for one little bout of cabin fever in which she was trying to convince me to jump off the plane with her.  Luckily, some Mickey Mouse stickers provided a great distraction.

somewhere over the Atlantic

visiting a lemonade stand in my hometown with my mother,
who was #1 caretaker for Manuela on this trip while I was working,
very special bonding time for both of them!

with my sister and niece at my grandfather's 90th birthday party

with my father and grandfather

Prior to our trip in the U.S. we spent a week in ├ôrgiva, with Manuela's grandparents.  It was a very relaxing week, filled with little else but soaking in the pool of our rental house and exploring nearby Alpujarran villages.

in Pampaneira

Manuela conquered her fear of water!
Another big reason why I have been neglecting this blog is work.  We've had some major restructuring in the past couple of months which aside from being emotionally stressful, means I am now even busier than I have ever been, and will continue to be so until my maternity leave in March.  The little down time I now have feels like my only precious time with Manuela, especially now that we have less than six months before our worlds get rocked and she's no longer my only baby.  I may still blog when inspiration hits or I feel I have something important to share, but don't expect a daily post.  I am now much more inspired to spend my free time playing dolls, going to the park, or coloring pictures of Elmo and friends.

I have unfortunately also been slacking on my 52 Weeks with Manuela project but may still be able to pull something together.  I began the tradition last year of creating an annual photo slideshow ("a year in pictures" of sorts) so will probably do something similar for her 2nd birthday, which is just a month away now!  We're going with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme complete with a hot dog bar (get it?!)

In other news, Manuela began her 2nd year of preschool/daycare and is doing great so far!  She's at the same place, right behind our house, but has a sweet, new teacher this year who she really likes.  We decided to include lunch in her daily school routine which has been a great decision.  She's finally eating a balanced meal for lunch and we (well, Dani, since he is in charge of lunch while I am at work) no longer have to stress about getting a proper meal into her when she comes out of school wanting nothing more than a bottle and nap.  This makes much more sense.  Let's just pray she stays free of viruses this winter because a repeat of last winter's bronchitis bouts would not be fun for anyone.

Well, I think that's it for me for now, hasta pronto and thanks for catching up with me!

Monday, July 16, 2012

{52 weeks with Manuela} week twenty-two

I know, I have been a terrible blogger this summer.  Please forgive me!

Here's this week's installment of our 52 Weeks with Manuela photography project, some photos snapped while on a quick escape to Matalasca├▒as Beach this past weekend.  Manuela warmed up to playing in the sand on the beach and practiced swimming a bit in a smaller pool with her Papi.  Her little cousin Julia just started to walk so they chased each other around everywhere and tackled each other for hugs and kisses which was too cute for words.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, July 2, 2012

{52 weeks with Manuela} week twenty

As you can imagine, after the wedding we were at until the wee morning hours of Sunday, it was quite the lazy day in our household.  Luckily, Manuela seemed to be understanding and she was willing to veg out with us most of the day, and even took a nice, long afternoon nap with us. She is such a good kid to forgive her parents' partying ways once in a while!

In case you haven't heard, Spain won the Eurocup Final last night after scoring FOUR goals against Italy.  We were so tired for the game, we could barely scream "goal!", but Manuela was happy to take over for us.  She was able to perfectly copy her father's fist pumping and now every time she sees soccer on TV she raises her arms and yells "goaaaaaal!"

A Match Made in Seville: Lindsay and David's Wedding

Over six years ago, I left my first job in Sevilla to take the one I'm currently in.  On my way out of DiscoverSevilla, a very competent and nice Spanish guy named David was hired to take over my position as General Manager, leading weekend trips for American students studying in Sevilla.  Lindsay was one of those students.  They fell in love and their relationship quickly bloomed.  After many trips back and forth between Spain and the U.S. to visit each other while Lindsay finished college, they eventually moved in together out in California while David did an MBA.  Last year, they made the move back to Sevilla and David has been successfully running his website,  Lindsay and I have been in touch all along, but she has become a more permanent fixture in my circle of friends since moving here.  David and Lindsay's story is familiar, but they've got something special - Lindsay is one of the most positive people I know and David has spent enough time in the U.S. that he's practically American himself!  They have lots of respect for each other and make a really fine, fun couple.

I was touched to receive an invitation to their beautiful wedding this past weekend at Hacienda El Roso outside Sevilla.  Dani and I were both moved to tears during their bilingual ceremony, officiated by mutual expat friends Karen of Enjoy Living Abroad and her husband Rich.  I also finally got to meet Cat of Sunshine and Siestas and had so much fun catching up with old friends and meeting new people!  Lindsay was lucky enough to have 60+ American guests travel over for her big day.  We all had a grand old time as people often do at all-night Spanish weddings.  We may, or may not, have strolled in around 7am.  And I may, or may not, have been spotted doing cartwheels on the lawn during the reception. 

Lindsay asked me and all our other mommy friends to collect baby jars so she could use them to create these lovely votives for the tables:

For their first dance, the couple rocked out to this fabulous tune, an excellent choice:

It was a lovely, lovely evening and I wish David and Lindsay continued happiness and blessings!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

{52 weeks with Manuela} week nineteen

My apologies for going a whole week without is a little busy and truth be told, I've been uninspired.

This morning, we went to the Mercado Romano in Parque Miraflores but it wasn't that great and Manuela was content going up and down the slide in the regular park a few hundred times.  It's H-O-T in Sevilla and the high temps are staying this week so we're gearing up for a scorcher.

Yesterday at a birthday party, M wasn't into playing with the kids and just wanted to be held by her Papish.

Hope to be back soon.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I've been thinking a lot lately about TEAMWORK and how important it is in both personal and professional aspects of life.

I feel very blessed to have a job working daily as part of a team of two at Manuela, Inc., where my partner and I work full-time (although on many days, there is lots of unpaid overtime!)  I like to think that on most days, Manuela, Inc. (herein referred to as "the company") is a pretty well-oiled machine and perhaps a quick study of the secrets behind our success could be applied to any team/partnership - whether it be in a family or business setting.  

1) We are both 100% dedicated to the success of Manuela, Inc.  We "interviewed" extensively (read: had lots of conversations about our approach to parenting and raising a family before we took the big step) and each of us were sure that this "position" was one we truly desired and wished to invest ourselves in.  We both believe that in any job, you truly need to love what you do in order to be good at it.  Otherwise, you're just an unhappy robot going through the motions from 9-5 and that attitude will ultimately affect your performance.  We are also qualified and competent in our roles as parents - which makes the job of managing the company that much easier.  We had previous experience (or at least some exposure) and knew what we were getting ourselves into.  Also, we are continuously providing each other with on-the-job training - sharing parenting articles or ideas shared by other parent-friends, in an effort to improve our own performance and that of Manuela, Inc.  If someone's performance is suffering, it is also dealt with swiftly and in an appropriate manner.  Ultimately, since we love and respect each other, we each want the other to be HAPPY and that's what makes us do our jobs well.  It's an easy formula if you break it down and focus on the basics.

2) We, as management of Manuela, Inc., have a clear vision of our goals and objectives and work productively towards them.  Communication is essential and we do our best to talk about everything as it happens and after it's happened.  We keep each other abreast throughout the day with quick online chats or phone calls and then of course an evening recap over dinner and review for the next day.  More importantly, our "goals" are reviewed periodically and adjusted as needed and decisions aren't made arbitrarily.  If something isn't going right, we immediately take a step back, evaluate and take a look at what we're doing right and make improvements on where we're going wrong.  Since we are a company of just two, communication is pretty easy.  In a larger "company", regular meetings are imperative to keep all "employees" informed of the management's goals and objectives so that everyone is on board when swift and sometimes tough changes need to be made.  By keeping everyone informed every step of the way, you ensure accountability on all levels, and the entire ship is steered towards the the same dock.  Without communication, ships sink pretty quickly.

3) Celebrate achievements, take breaks, know your limits.  We try to take Saturdays to let loose on our daily workweek schedules and always have a quick "cheers" with that first lunchtime beer to salute the week we have finished as well as the week ahead.  Burning steam, giving yourself pats on the back, and having fun "outside of the workplace" even if just for one quick drink renews your energy and provides you with that necessary motivation to keep going.  We also try to take an overnight break for at least one night a month, leaving Manuela with our "part-time staff" (her grandparents).

4) Equal division of labor.  This is where I think we really have it going on.  Dani and I decided when it was time for me to return to work full-time after my maternity leave, that we would rotate night duty with Manuela.  After all, it was only fair since both of us work full-time and need our sleep.  It has worked beautifully.  We are both almost always fully-rested and Manuela sees both of us attending to her in the night-time hours which we hope will be beneficial to her rearing in the long run.  Her time with each of us is almost exactly divided down the middle and she's not dependent on just one of us for any one thing.  Weekdays, Dani gets her up and off to daycare and then feeds her lunch and puts her down for her nap.  I get her all afternoon and am responsible for bathtime and dinnertime.  Dani and I are both fully cross-trained in our "positions" if we ever need special coverage and while each of us has his/her unique management style, the work is done equally and everyone in the company is generally happy and not feeling over-tired or over-worked - huge success in my book.  I will admit to the use of one "contract employee" here which management decided was a necessary expense in order to keep workloads manageable - we have a cleaning lady who comes twice a month to do the big cleaning.  We only need to surface clean in between and keep on top of laundry.  Dani does most of the cooking, so I compensate by doing most of the laundry.  But he knows I hate ironing so he'll usually do his items of clothing.  See?  Even our divisions of labor are reasonably flexible.  

Logistically how does the division of labor with Manuela work?   We switch off nights for bedtime and late night wake-up duty.  Last night was my turn so I was responsible for putting her to bed and for attending to her throughout the night if she needed it.  It took almost an hour to get her to sleep (ugh) and I had to go in and comfort her two or three times.  That's about as bad as it gets with her so it's not like we're switching off nights being 100% wakeful, but I'm still a little more tired than usual today.  So, it will be great when bedtime strolls around tonight and I know that I can tuck in early and have a good night's sleep since tonight it's Dani's turn. :-)

5) Support for each other's individual needs.  We both recognize when one of us needs a night out alone with friends, or a special treat, like maybe a new book or shoes, and go out of our way to support those needs.  This includes showing interest in your partner's "extracurricular" activities.  For instance, Dani has been helping me with my online photography course, and I allow him to go play paddle tennis with his friends a few times a month.  After all, a well-rounded employee is ultimately a happier and more satisfied employee.  We are also both extremely supportive of the other's "actual", paying job, allowing for flexibility scheduling-wise when necessary/possible and acting as a sounding board for feedback on (real) work-related stresses.

What are your thoughts on teamwork?  Am I missing any other essential pieces to the puzzle of running a successful partnership?