2012: The Year Everything Changed

Change often comes in small, incremental pieces—a new haircut, a five-pound weight loss, new decorations, the leaves falling slowly off the trees in autumn. It happens so that you barely notice it. That is until you look back and consider where you were twelve months ago and where you are now.

Twelve months ago, I was in the same place I’m at now: my parents’ house in Indiana, my childhood home. But twelve months ago I was in a completely different place, figuratively speaking.

In 2012, Mario got a job, and we decided we were moving to Madrid.

All that studying paid off

In 2012, I lived in Zamora for three months while preparing for our wedding.





In 2012, my parents, brother, and sister(-in-law) went to Spain to visit for one very special occasion.


In 2012, it went from “I” to “we.”




In 2012, we went on our honeymoon. To Venice, Florence, and Rome.


In 2012, my brother got married to Colleen.



In 2012, we moved to Madrid.

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In 2012, we attended several other couples’ weddings.

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In 2012, I got a job teaching English to sixth graders and found it was a wonderful age.


In 2012, I met American women in Madrid, and some of them were married to Spaniards.

In 2012, Mario and I visited Sevilla and Córdoba.

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In 2012, I came home for Christmas and realized that Spain may be where I live, but Indiana is my home.

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2012: The Year Everything Changed. How was 2012 for you?


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.

How to Plan a Wedding in Spain

… or not.

If you came here looking for advice, I have none. I just wanted to tell you that planning a wedding is hard. Planning a wedding in another country/language is even harder. But, for me, planning a wedding in another country, in another language, and without my mother is the hardest. Sometimes a girl just needs her mom, ya know what I mean?

Mom and me

Mario’s mother has, of course, been there for me: taking me to find “the one” (I really hate using that phrase, as I don’t equate dresses with people), arranging manicure appointments, offering to go with me everywhere, even though she’s still working. So I’m, again, quite lucky.

I know of some American girls who have had their weddings in Spain, and they always assure me I can go to them with questions. The problem is, I don’t have any. I mean, to have questions about something, you have to have at least an intermediate-level understanding of it. And I’m not sure I get Spanish weddings yet. For example:

  • The rehearsal. In the US, there’s a rehearsal. As a bridesmaid in my friend Hilary’s wedding, I was so grateful. In Spain, where I most need it, there’s no rehearsal. How will I know where to stand and when to kneel and where to look if I don’t remember the other weddings? I didn’t exactly take notes.

  • Colors. In the US, we have wedding colors. Smirk all you want, but I love it. In Spain, there aren’t colors, and you most likely won’t be doing any decorating at the reception (here, the reception = el banquete). So relax, that’s one less thing to worry about. I guess.
  • Wedding rings. Here, wedding rings tend to look alike, whereas (from what I know), in the US, the woman’s ring is a bit more, um, feminine? Also, the band goes on the right hand, which is weird to me, no matter how much I see it. What if we move to the States sometime? Will we switch our bands to the left hand? Only time will tell.
  • Dancing. We have to dance a waltz. I am not a dancer. It is not something I’m looking forward to, to be quite honest. In the US, you can usually pick a sentimental song, a song that means something to you. Here, we’ll be dancing to a waltz, which is fine, but not exactly a song that causes me any emotional response. Also, I hope it’s okay if I count to myself the whole time (1, 2, 3 … 1, 2, 3.)

It’s true, you can do what you want. And I’m getting used to being somewhat weird. I don’t understand why every woman needs to get a new dress and go to the hairdresser, even if they’re not part of the wedding. I don’t understand why people will spend so much money, money that could be better spent elsewhere (this happens in the US too, just not as much with my friends/family/the people that I know).

So did you want advice? Here’s mine: take advantage of Spain, its food and wine and lifestyle. Don’t worry; hakuna matata. Because if anyone gives great life advice, it’s Disney.