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Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays, from Somewhere Above the Atlantic Ocean

* If you have not been following our story for the last 4 months and are wondering how we came to be suspended over the Atlantic Ocean, please look at the first post: Off to Spain, especially the Prologue, and two November posts: Visa Fiasco and Visa Debacle Update. 

The details both gory and glorious:  

A year ago we were as rooted as any family with three girls, three cats, two cars, a house and a yard. Here is the Christmas card that I designed but did not end up using last year:

Happy Holidays, 2009

Shortly after Christmas we decided to shake things up a bit by enrolling Claire in AFS, a student exchange program, to live abroad the following school year. It was nearly summer when a full scale eruption took place in the form of Matt’s company transferring him to Europe for 2 years.

BTY, those are roller bags following us to Europe.

When the dust settled the house was up for rent; our cars were sold; the cats were in new homes; most of our possessions were in storage; Claire was in Italy, and the rest of us were in an apartment in Madrid.

Claire and friends from AFS

Claire in Italy with other exchange students

We had gone with 3 month tourist visas and found that procuring residency permits in Spain is actually quite difficult. When the tourist visas expired, Matt, Adele, Iris and I had to return to Concord. Do you know Ludwig Bemelman’s Spanish Ambassador from Madaline and the Bad Hat and Madaline in London?

 I imagine it was him who sent us back to the States. Here are the Spanish Ambassador and his wife waving good bye to us with the roller bags that have followed us throughout our saga:

From Madeline in London, with some alteration
We will return to Madrid when we get our residency permits, probably in mid February.

Personal Updates

Claire is living with a very nice Italian family just outside of Rome and is doing her 10th grade year at an Italian high school.

Claire with her Italian sister, Susanna, and friends

 Thanks to Skype, she joins us every week or so in virtual form.
Skyping with Claire at my mother's birthday party

Our virtual daughter.
Adele and Iris 

Iris and Adele have enjoyed their new friends in Spain (my apologies to their friends; I must take more photos when we return)
And exploring Spain:

On the northern coast, by the Bay of Biscay

 But they have also been surprised to find how rooted they are in Concord and the United States.
Back in Concord with cousins, Emma and Maie
They have acquired  a profound appreciation of many things they might otherwise be taking for granted around this time of their lives: old friends and family, the New England landscape, our old house and its many familiar objects, an excess of dampness, a plethora of American style pizza, and the freedom to dress in sloppy clothes, just to name a random few items.

Matt’s new position that took our family to Spain has him traveling to many places in Europe as well as South Africa, Russia, the Mid East and California. His laptop is set to European time, his watch is on East Coast time, but with many other time zones involved (some of his co-workers are in India and Singapore) he has to think carefully before making a conference call.. Matt estimates that he has done 43,150 miles in the past 2 months, which works out to 720 miles a day, or keeping a continuous speed of 30 miles an hour.    

Margot: Moving to Spain has been a big mix of exciting, stressful, wonderful, fascinating, and difficult.
The best of it has been experiencing new places and making new friends who are from all over the world.

 These are some of the wonderful women I have met through a cooking class. Ana Laura, from Mexico, on the far left is our teacher. Thank you, Sandra for the picture, wish you were in it!

Unexpectedly, our European saga has entailed a great deal of moving, and just the process of packing and relocating has dominated the experience.

In my more despondent moments I feel very like Moomin Mama in one of my all time favorite cartoon strips "Moomin", by the Norwegian novelist Tove Jansson in the 1950's. In this one Moomin Papa has decided to become a lighthouse keeper:

But actually, though I did miss friends and family from home, I was very much enjoying living in Madrid, and now long for my modest studio with the fabulous view.

  As always, I welcome comments and responses. Leave a comment here, or send me an email.  Let me know if you would like our temporary Concord address and phone number, and or address and number in Madrid.

And Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. WOW WOW WOW Margot!! I had no idea! How exciting! Having done it, I know how difficult and rewarding it can be, all at once! Exclamation points!! I hope all the back-and-forth isn't too difficult. I will be sure to follow along!
    Happy holidays to you all -- Catherine

  2. I don't think without your illustrations, Margot, you could give this saga its due. It seems the girls are none the worse for the back and forth, but you and Matt... I will keep my fingers crossed that you have but one journey back over a month from now, and after that it will be visitors who do all the crossing over - Matt excluded. That is a whole lotta traveling for anyone, even a seasoned pro like Matt.

    Sending you both New Year's wishes for a better 2011! Hugs, Alice