Thankful for 2012

In 2012, life changed. Life changed fast. I could say it all to you, in one breath, a rush of words and emotion that would leave you reeling. I could replay the year over in my head, wondering how I got to this point, this place right here—November 22, 2012.

In 2012 I did so many things. So many things changed in my life, in my family’s lives, in my friend’s lives. These things, there were good. They were wonderful and magical and joyful. So, dear 2012,now it’s my turn. Thank you. Thank you for:

  • July 7. On this day, I married Mario. I don’t have words for this day. It was a day full of sunshine and laughter and red scarves and dancing. It was rich with tears and photographs and the grasping of hands. I wore a white dress; he wore a suit. We joined hands, and we said yes.


  • New family. I’ve gained some new family this year: in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles. I’m no longer the American; I’m prima or hija. I’m part of this family here in Spain, a grand family who has taken me in without a second thought, who has taught me to cook, lavished me with presents and love and welcome. I couldn’t be more grateful for my mother-in-law, Pepita, who worries about me as if I were her daughter or my father-in-law, Jesús, who emails me to wish me a happy Thanksgiving in his newly acquired English. I am so grateful to them and for them.



  • Old family. One is silver, but the other’s gold? I don’t really buy this saying, but I am aware that my family has always been there for me, ever since the rainy Monday almost twenty-six years ago. My family has supported me through my on-again, off-again relationship with Spain, and I don’t think I could have done it without them. They love Mario like their own son, and they would do anything for us and for my brother and his wife. You couldn’t ask for more dedicated parents, the kind that go to every single sports event in high school, the kind that never say a word about driving six hours there and back to pick you up at the airport, the kind that pay for a brother and future-sister-in-law’s plane tickets just so that they can all be together on the most important day of the bride’s life.



  • Thanksgivings past. My extended family was never one to fight. Our holidays were filled with food, laughter, and kids’ tables. There was no yelling, no hurt feelings, no real problems. As a girl, I took this for granted. Now I couldn’t be more grateful for an extended family that knows the value of togetherness.
  • New friends. I’ve met some new people here in Madrid recently, and I’m really excited to see where these friendships lead. You cannot underestimate the value of a nearby friend.
  • Old friends. Where would I be without my constant source of encouragement and laughter, Hilary? Roommates in college, friends for life. I cannot say enough about my cousin Bailey, just seven months older than me and already on her way to having her second child. It’s hard to reconcile what was with what is, but our friendships will never shrivel and die, just change and grow as we do.
  • This blog. This blog has been a source of encouragement for me over the past few years. I started it without knowing what would come of it, and I am ever so grateful for the readers who comment, email, tweet, or Facebook me. Thank you, readers! Thanks for reading, for caring, for helping me see things in a new light. Without you, I know I wouldn’t keep writing. Thank you.

So happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! If you’re in the States, please eat some stuffing for me! And—oh yeah—give your mom and dad a hug! They’re the only ones you’ve got.

Sí, Quiero—The Spanish Version of “I Do”

Fueron felices y comieron perdices.


As I wrote previously, planning for my wedding here in Spain wasn’t always enjoyable. But July 7, 2012, was the best day of my life. It started at 8 a.m., in a hotel with my mother: showers, breakfast, and jittery nerves. Next came the hairdresser.


The before short

Next, at 10:30, came the makeup. I’m not really a makeup person, if one can be a makeup person, but I left satisfied, even if I seemed odd to myself (“me extrañaba”). After that, it was back to the hotel to get dressed and try to calm down before leaving for the church. I had a very special ride.


The people loved it


Mario hung around and greeted the guests before I arrived


Dad helping me out of the car

In Spain, the bride can be seen by the guests before the wedding (traditionally), if not the groom. Mario was quickly ushered inside before this moment.


Happy to see Mario at the end of the aisle


Photo credit: José Antonio Fernández Sánchez, Mario’s cousin


Photo credit: José Antonio Fernández Sánchez


Tables were arranged by state names. We were Indiana, of course.


Guests were wearing red bandannas for San Fermín.


Our families at our table, fit for kings


Giving the boquet to Colleen, my future sister(-in-law), who’s getting married in September to my brother, Seth


Parents learning how Spaniards dance


Shouting so he can hear me


Favorite picture!


Dad and daughter, end of the night

I keep looking back on that day, that whole week, as this magical moment, a moment that turned out more perfect than I could have hoped for. I feel so lucky to have these people in my lives, people that will scream, “¡Vivan los novios!” and “¡Que se besen!” until they’re hoarse, people who will dance for hours with you, people who will make you videos with hilarious childhood photos set to the tunes of Que viva España and Born in the USA, who will take enough photos of you to make you swear off photos for a year, who will gift you a trip to Italy, who will accept you into their family like any other person (despite your foreignness), who will do mountains of paperwork for you while you’re on that honeymoon, who will buy you flowers and jewelry, who will cry until their eyes are dry during the ceremony, who will write special essays to read at your wedding … these people, you people if you are reading this, are the reason that day was the best day.

The honeymoon, by the way, was wonderful. And wonderfully hot. I think next time we’ll get married in September; July is way too hot.

Just Married

We’re leaving for Italy today, a honeymoon I’d only imagined in my dreams.

Venice canal

First stop: Venice

The wedding was also a dream: chaotic, beautiful, loud, and full of laughter and dancing, which are the same things, really.



I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day, a better man, a more loving family (Spanish or American).


See you after Italy! Blogging and honeymoons that involve Venice, Florence, and Rome don’t really mix …

Happy Belated Father’s Day

In case you didn’t know, yesterday was Father’s Day in Spain. Happy Father’s Day to all the Spanish dads (and the American dads living in Spain)!

I wrote a post once called Why You Should Have a Spanish Mother-in-Law. Read it—I talk about Mario’s mother, how great she is, and how much she worries about me. (I almost hate to cause her that worry, but it does make me feel loved.) Anyway, I got to thinking, and it seems that Mario’s father deserves a post because he, too, is wonderful.

Overlooking Lago de Sanabria

Mario and his dad, Jesús, are similar in many ways. They are both intelligent, passionate learners, avid readers, and generous, kind people. They are both golosos (they have a huge sweet tooth). They never pass up a chance to eat dessert. I would say that Jesús wins this one, though; I think I’ve seen Mario refuse dessert a time or two. Jesús? Um, no. At a wedding we all attended last June, after a huge meal, he gleefully recounted how he hate not only his (very rich) dessert, but also those of two other people sitting at his table. Typical. I really love it when he brings out the cookie box after every meal—Mario’s mother, Pepita, is always rolling her eyes. Again, typical.

Jesús is a high school teacher, although he teaches middle-school-age kids really. In Spain, high school includes both middle-school and high-school-age kids. He teaches geography, and he knows basically everything there is to know about Spain. Also, everything. I still remember the first time I went to Mario’s house in Zamora to meet his family. There we were, for some reason discussing wine and vines, and there was a word that no one knew. His cousin told me something along the lines of , “Well, no one knows that word.” But guess what—Jesús did. Typical.

Learning about Sanabria

Teaching me about Sanabria.

Last year, after my day at the local high school, I would often go over there for lunch, even if Mario wasn’t there. For some reason, I think Jesús was glad of this. After a full day of teaching, he got yet another student: me. He loves to teach me, and I love it, too. You see, Mario and his brother, Víctor, have heard it all. They’re always telling him, “I know, Papá.” Well, I don’t know, so he gets to tell me. And tell me he does, often with millions of details I’ll never recall in two hours. Nonetheless, I enjoy it immensely. He also enjoys teaching me Spanish words. I’ve stopped telling him if I already know them, just because he enjoys telling me so much. Also: he’s really funny and always ready with a joke, no matter if you think it’s lame. (I never do!)

Monte la Reina Wine Tasting

I have some really great parents, parents who always support me, parents who loved me immensely since the day I was born, parents who have gone to Spain twice to see me (and are going again in July!). Yet I am so lucky, because I get another set of my parents—mis suegros—who love me, who worry about me, who make me amazing food … the best set of suegros I could have ever asked for.

Happy (Belated) Father’s Day to Jesús: ¡eres el mejor!

Spanish Father in Law Wedding