State of the Offspring Address – July 2013

July 31, 2013 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Parenting, Photos 189 views

Well hello, there!After six long months of cold and rain, the longest spell of bad weather anyone can remember, literally when we changed the calendar on July 1, the weather turned into the nicest summer weather we’ve had in the eight years I’ve been living here. With Nora out of school, we made a lot of effort to go to the beach, which is difficult since the beach is not really a good place for a two month old baby. Many times either my wife or I would go with Nora and the other parent would either stay home with Ian or walk along the sidewalk that lines the beach for the hour or two that Nora was enjoying the sand.
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Bar Culture in Spain

July 30, 2013 By: erik Category: Partying, Photos, Spain, Travel 713 views

Which way to the nearest bar?After living in Spain for so long, I have internalized so much of the culture, that I forget what is quirky about it and what seems weird to outsiders. One aspect of Spanish culture that visitors often misunderstand is just how central bars are to Spanish society. When you first visit Spain, you will notice that there are a lot of people in the bars every midday and evening (and even for breakfast), and you might think, “Wait, where’s the economic crisis?” There is one simple fact that you need to know to understand almost anything about Spanish social culture:
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Today is our wedding day! …or not.

July 10, 2013 By: erik Category: Funny, Photos, Spain 274 views

Marriage BeretIf an American were to look at the special Basque wedding beret we were given on our wedding day, she may very well conclude that we were married today, July 10, 2013. You see, my wife’s family knew that Those Wacky Americans wrote the date in a different order, but they weren’t exactly sure what order. In doing so, they came very close to my very favorite date format, ISO 8601 (with the most significant digits to the left, just like our numbering system). They put the year first, then the month, and then the day, which would be ISO 8601, but they only used two digits for the year. So, in reality, our wedding was 2097 days ago, on October 13, 2007.
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July 4th Party – Hamburgerfest 2013

July 10, 2013 By: erik Category: Food, Partying, Photos, Spain, USA 134 views

July Fourth Party InviteIt’s July again, and time for my annual party I’ve dubbed Hamburgerfest, because it’s mostly just be cooking hamburgers for some friends. This year was a little more relaxed than previous years, with a considerable drop in alcohol consumption and general rowdiness that makes parties good, but it was still very nice company and also very nice to have someone to take our children’s laser focus off of us for a few hours. Nora had fun playing with our friend Elena, who was very patient with her, and was immediately accepted into the Grandmother role (a playmate for Nora to boss around). And there were plenty of women queueing up for a chance to hold baby Ian, which is all he needs to be happy.
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San Juan – Beans in the Park

July 05, 2013 By: erik Category: Colindres, Offspring, Partying, Photos, Spain 107 views

Drinking Wine from a Spanish BotaLast Sunday was the annual Cocido Montañes in the Park day here in Colindres. Every year, around the summer solstice, the Peña San Juan (Saint John’s Club), named after the town’s patron saint, throws a huge cookout in the local park. They make a Cantabrian specialty, known as cocido montañes, which is a white bean and spinach soup with pieces of meat in it. Each serving contains a pork rib, a piece of chorizo, and a piece of morcilla (blood sausage). Over the eight years we have been attending the festival, it has been evolving and improving. When we first went, you waited in line and then asked for as many servings as you wanted and paid 1€ each. So some groups of four would order eight servings to have leftovers later that week. But it was hard to calculate just how much to make.
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Tourette’s Butcher

June 28, 2013 By: erik Category: Spain, Weird 179 views

Medium RareI’d never met anyone with Tourette’s syndrome before…until today. Rather than go to my local grocer for my daily shopping, I went for a bigger purchase to a larger supermarket chain. I needed to get some chicken thighs, so I went to the butcher section. As I arrived, someone was waiting for their lamb chops to be chopped, and another shopper came up to ask where a particular item was in the store. The butcher was very polite and told her it was “down that aisle and on the right”. As the woman was walking away, he mumbled, “¡hijo de puta!” under his breath. For those of you not versed in Spanish swearing, that’s “son of a bitch”. I was shocked, but the shopper either didn’t hear or didn’t respond.
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State of the Offspring Address – June 2013

June 28, 2013 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Parenting, Photos, Videos 144 views

Jamming with the Ras BoysJune saw many interesting events in our family. First of all, my parents came to meet their grandson for the first time, then we had a visit from Belgium, and Nora finished her first year of preschool. So far her summer vacation has been going smoothly because the local town government has been organizing some “workshops” all week, where kids can go and do crafts or practice juggling or learn about music, which has been keeping her busy.
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Ian is Two Months Old

June 25, 2013 By: erik Category: Food, Offspring, Partying, Photos 140 views

Ian is Two Months OldIan has turned two months old today. He’s quite a bit bigger, and seems slightly more aware of his surroundings. He’s quite a demanding lad, always preferring to be held, and not just “sitting on the sofa with a baby in your arms” held, either; his holder must be pacing around the room to satisfy him. He also enjoys being pushed in the pram, but no matter how peacefully he appears to be sleeping, if you stop for a moment, he’ll wake up and complain. When I’m out for a walk with him, I’m often reminded of that bus in Speed.
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Return to Restaurante Solana – Michelin Star Dining in Cantabria

June 22, 2013 By: erik Category: Food, Partying, Photos, Spain, Wine 220 views

Coconut and pineapple ravioli with passionfruitWhen our friends Simon and Paola were visiting last week from Brussels, we wanted to show off our local cuisine. As you can see from Simon’s blog, they are fine dining hobbyists, taking advantage of their location in Brussels to try as many Michelin Star restaurants as they can. After I visited them and they took me out to one of Brussels’ finest establishments, the fine dining bug bit me as well. It really is a fun experience.

After I visited them in October, I took my wife out to our local Michelin Star establishment, Restaurante Solana, and we were wowed, especially my wife, who had been dubious about the whole thing. So naturally we wanted to take Simon and Paola to Restaurante Solana to show off what Cantabria has to offer.
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Nora’s English Report Card – Year 1

June 21, 2013 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Photos 302 views

English Report CardToday was Nora’s last day of school for the year; her first scholastic year is in the books. This school year has flown by. Nora has received three report cards (different columns in the same booklet) throughout the year, and it has been interesting to chart her progress. I’m convinced that the teachers intentionally give low marks early on so that they can show improvement throughout the year, but that’s understandable. In each “subject”, the children receive a grade of either one, two or three X’s, with XXX being the best grade. From the very first time we saw the report card, we were curious as to why she only received XX in English, since she’s very clearly bilingual.
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