I am in a hazy state of after Christmas pleasure. My words are mostly napping on the couch, but here is a photo journey through the last week. All the pics were taken by April or Kelly Crull. It's a good thing we had official photographers and videographers in the house!

Minnie & Meg Posted by Picasa

Christmas under the sea at the back of El Corte Ingles Posted by Picasa

Plaza Mayor Posted by Picasa

Christmas sparkles Posted by Picasa

Treats at an old-fashioned bakery at Sol Posted by Picasa

Meg makes cookies Posted by Picasa

Decorating cookies Posted by Picasa

Classic Christmas memories...blogging, coffee and brownie batter! Posted by Picasa

Big ole turkey Posted by Picasa

Forget sugarplums, Lexi dreams of bacon Posted by Picasa

Poached eggs with bacon & cheese sauce for Christmas breakfast Posted by Picasa

Nic got a remote control car from Uncle Scott that drove the dog wild Posted by Picasa

Santa didn't have to buy the Barbie horse for Meg...Uncle Scott already did. Posted by Picasa

Troy and Godly Play Posted by Picasa

April sent Troy on a scavenger hunt for his present that had him in hysterics Posted by Picasa

Chillin' with baby Noah Posted by Picasa


My Christmas Cup Runneth Over

What a week! I'm seriously having my ideal Christmas. I have been so relaxed that I've been practically comatose in the evening even though I've planned on blogging every night this week. So I'll give you a recap.

Tuesday was social hang-out day. Friends came for coffee and muffins in the morning; more friends came for Chinese food at lunch. Then I dropped April to get her hair cut and I did the school run. Troy went to Alpha in the city that evening and April and I made an incredibly speedy, efficient trip to Mercadona. I think it took us longer to put the food away than it did to buy it. Then the three of us sat around in the living room with our computers & books and comfortably ignored each other. Come to think of it, I have no idea why I didn't blog that night. Probably because I was very sleepy and regretting that I had told Troy I would pick him up from the train at 11:24.

Wednesday we had some errands to run, including get a trunk-load of firewood. I successfully avoided being stopped by the eleventy-billion cops standing at roundabouts doing random alcohol tests. That evening three of my community group girls came for dinner. The house smelled awesome. April and Meaghan made gingersnaps and peanut butter cookies with chocolate stars in the middle. And we made fettucini with lots of garlic and some awesome fried rice. So many yummy smells.

Yesterday was trying to finish up the shopping in between school run and airport run. We did pretty well. We only have to do one more trip out to the dollar store this afternoon and we're done, just in time to hide in the house and avoid the madness that will be a Saturday Christmas Eve in Spain. The only thing I may venture out for is churros in the morning.

So far this week the household has collectively watched A Christmas Story, The Preacher's Wife, Family Man, the new version of Miracle on 34th Street and
Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean (that one about eleventy billion times.) Tonight it's National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, which is apparently a Crull family Christmas tradition. Yes, we love movies! We're saving It's a Wonderful Life for Christmas night.

This morning I went to the grocery store right at 9 to buy the turkey. I came home with an 11 kilo turkey. I have NEVER seen such a big turkey in Spain. Actually, as I loaded it the car, I was very afraid that it would not even fit in the oven. It does, but barely. Think about the turkey that Mr. Bean gets stuck on his head. Oh the leftovers!!!

This morning we went into the city. We walked by the big Christmas display on the back of El Corte Ingles, where the kids got balloon swords from characters like Minne Mouse and Shrek. Then we walked over to the Christmas market in Plaza Mayor to buy a new stable for our Holy Family. We also bought a camel, (Meg pointed out we should buy 3) a hen and rooster. We considered buying a pig but didn't in the end. Meg wanted to know whether there were pigs in the original stable. She's a stickler for Biblical authenticity. Then we went to a cool bakery at Sol and had napolitanas de chocolate and thick cups of hot chocolate. K got her nose pierced.

Now we're home. April is the kitchen whipping up all kinds of Christmasy goodness and there is a 3-way round of V-rally going on. It's hilarious to watch them play.

Other Christmas week moments:

Troy & Kelly playing hours of V-rally on the big screen. Meaghan and Nic are the cheering section. Lexi has been sacked out on the couch most of the week.

Driving around with Troy and have him randomly shout "KINDLING!" when he spots all the tree prunings in dumpsters in our neighborhood. Our car is full of remnants of tree bark and twigs.

Tonight after the kids go to bed we'll have a wrapping session while we watch the movie and eat all kinds of fattening treats.

Tomorrow night friends will join us for bingo, merienda and Polar Express.

This is pretty much my dream Christmas!



Last night I wrote my blog post while we watched a movie. Tonight we're watching A Christmas Story (which I truly detest) for my hubby's sake, because he has been dying to show it to Kelly. I figure it's better to get it out of the way now. In theory I should be able to write a long post, but I am thinking that it sounds like a really good idea to stretch out on the couch with the dog and take an evening snooze.

This morning April and I went to the euro store for stocking stuffers (while Troy played Text Twist.) Then we went to the sushi place at lunch, only to find out that the all you can eat Monday is every
OTHER Monday. Grrrr. In the end we still had so much food that we had to bring some home. Even though it wasn't all you can eat we were still there for 2 hours.

After a quick stop at home we picked Nic up and spent from 4:15 until 7:45 picking up Meg and attending her Christmas program. She sang her little heart out. Nic was bored out of his mind, since it was mainly just singing. In the middle, he was sitting on my lap and I heard him giggling to himself. I asked him what he was laughing at and he said "Mr. Bean!" I said "Where?" thinking he had seen someone that looked like Mr. Bean and he said "At home!" They both love Merry Christmas Mr. Bean and laugh hysterically. Nic asks to watch it every day. OK, the long winter's nap is winning. Snore.



It's Sunday night and we are now officially on vacation. Yipppeeee. I know the next 2 weeks are going to fly by, but I'm hoping to enjoy them to the max, and enter the new year with more energy.

Today was our last Mountainview service. It was good, but kind of a weird experience for us to walk away afterwards. Sure we'll be back again sometime in the future. But the next time they have a service, we won't be there. It's a funny feeling.

April and Kelly arrived yesterday to spend Christmas with us, so I am happy as a clam. You should have seen me on Friday; I was like a grandma on steroids, cleaning like a maniac. I was like the happy Christmas elf. I was cleaning the house, baking muffins for the Christmas service, humming along with the Christmas music. Believe it or not (it's actually not that hard to believe because I'm really out of shape) I was actually sore on Saturday from cleaning. I guess that also tells you how dirty my house was. I still haven't mopped the floors but oh well. Good thing is that Kelly & April are family.

Tomorrow we're doing all-you-can-eat sushi for 10 euro at lunch time. Then we have Meaghan's Christmas program, which seems to be just a gloried Christmas carol sing-along this year. Oh well. As Troy pointed out, she'll still grin and wave at us when she finds us in the audience.

Anyway, no telling how much I will be posting this week. I think I'm going to be fighting with my hubby for my laptop because he is going to want to sit in the living room and play text twist.


Domestic Bliss

Today is our day off, and it's been a great day. This morning Troy and I went into Madrid and met Kelly for a quick breakfast and then a gander at the Christmas market in Plaza Mayor. It's an interesting mix of Christmas ornaments, everything you need to build a huge, complex Nativity scene (see photo) and funny wigs, hats and gag gifts. Not quite sure why it's all there together, but it's definitely a part of Christmas in Madrid.

This afternoon we had a nap, then went to get Meg and go to the "euro" store to get stuff for the Christmas shoebox we put together. This is the first year her school has done that, and I was happy they started it. I think it's great for kids to learn to give instead of always thinking about what they are getting. Nic definitely needed to learn that lesson as he walked around the euro store asking for stuff for him!

Then we came home and I made pasta (animal tricolor noodles for the kids, spinach and cheese tortellini for Troy & I) with mushroom, onion & sauasage red sauce and a fresh loaf of crusty bread. Then we turned on the Christmas tree lights and sat and ate in the living room while we watched the new version of Miracle on 34th Street.


My Community Group

Thought you might like to see some photos of my community group and some of their artwork they have been doing during our response time after our Advent Godly Play. They do some amazing work!
(left to

I didn't get pics on anyone else yet.


The Economy of Christmas

When I was a kid (a missionary kid) the bounty of Christmas always depended on the checks that good-hearted people sent us. Christmas was always beautiful and meaningful in our home. I think that's why I still love Christmas so much.

Today we got a Christmas check in the mail. Earlier in the day, Troy asked me what the "Christmas budget" was. I told him that after payday next week I needed to sit down and take stock and I would let him know :) When I opened the check I said "Here's our Christmas money!"

Then I checked our Spanish bank balance and found out that (as usual) they have paid the telephone bill without me knowing so that now I owe the bank all but 30 euro of the Christmas check. Bah humbug!

Finally got our Christmas letter finished today. Hooray! I can cross that off my to-do list.


Sunday night at the (mental) races

When I used to have a non-ministry job (one that required me showing up somewhere in the morning and staying until the end of the afternoon) I used to get the "Sunday night blues." With some of my jobs the blues were worse than others. I would get downright whiny about having to go to work the next day. It wasn't pretty.

Now that we're in ministry, I don't really get those blues anymore (there are new and different blues to enjoy!) but my brain does go into administrative over-drive as I try and prepare for the week ahead. It usually happens late on Sunday night, after I get in bed. I start to think of everything I need to get done during the week, and trying to remember everything. You know the story. It's crazy! Often I end up staring at the ceiling, wide awake and more often than not, worried about things. Like needing to take Meaghan and Nic to the dentist (Meg needs braces, Nic has a doozy of a cavity.) Like finding a new place to live in the city and all the unknowns of that. And a million other things. So I don't get enough sleep, and I end up dragging on Mondays. I really need to break this cycle!

Last night I was awake really late because I was waiting to see if Meg's fever was going to break. It was really high and I didn't want to go to sleep until it seemed to be coming down. And then I got annoyed because I had arranged to walk with Sarah this morning, and it never fails that as soon as I try to get organized and actually get off my butt and do some exercise, things happen. Like high fevers keeping me up at night so I don't get enough sleep and wake up dragging and don't want to walk.

But this morning, I did it anyway! I got my butt out of bed, went to meet Sarah, and went for a walk. So there.

I spent most of the rest of the day sitting on my bed again hanging out with Meg, but I did get a little done!


The Weekend

It has been a great weekend. Saturday started with a much better feeling than Friday night, that's for sure. Everyone was in a good mood on Saturday because Daddy was coming home. We got in the car and put in Harry Connick Jr.'s Harry for the Holidays and headed for the airport. Everything is just better when Dad's at home! We enjoyed our afternoon together, and today has been great too. We puttered around all morning and then a few friends came over for lunch and Christmas movies. We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life while we ate lunch and pumpkin pie by the fire. A great afternoon! Later on we read some books; basically we've just been hanging out by the fire with friends all day.

I had to run someone to their babysitting job, and the sunset was glorious tonight. As I was arriving back home the sky was dusky deep rose with black lace trees and the outlines of mountains against the night. Beautiful.

I find myself sitting in my darkened room again with a sick kid; this time the other one. Meg had a headache earlier this afternoon. She went to bed but then called us later to say she didn't feel well. She had the chills for awhile and couldn't stop shaking. I think she is asleep now as I write this. We'll see what happens as the night wears on. I hope she's OK in the morning.
Hope you all had a great weekend too!



I sit in my bed
Cocooned in the dark of the late hour
Small feverish boy restless beside me.
His hand on my arm feels paper dry,
Hot and light.
He murmurs his half-asleep thanks
As I change the damp washcloth on his head
To a cooler position.

A mother's heart cannot quite rest
When a child is sick.
She carries him closer
To keep watch.

My soul feels a little
Like this hot little hand on my arm.
A bit dried out around the edges,
Like a stiff breeze might blow me away.
Wrung out
Tired to the depths
Where only a whisper of light
Seeps in around the edges

There is something about having a sick kid that tends to tilt my world. It's not like I think that every fever means a fatal illness or anything like that. But when my babies are not well, my soul is just not at ease. When I went in to check on Nic before I went to get in bed for the night, he was hot and flushed. So I dosed him with Dalsy and brought him to my bed so I can reach him in the night and feel if he is hot again.

My soul has felt bruised today, the residue of me doing something hurtful without thinking. I am normally a thoughtful person and I found it extremely distasteful to discover this big brown smushy slightly rotten spot on my surface. All is mended but the lingering aftertaste of it has been sour in my mouth. So I sat in the dark and wrote my dehydrated poem.

Then I blog-surfed for awhile, periodically checking Nic to see if his fever had gone down. As I read the journeys of other people, I was reminded that I am not alone, that I am not the only one with slightly smushy spots on my self.

I keep vigil here over my flushed little boy, and God sprinkled me gently with His living water, enough to make me tilt my head back and drink what was already waiting there for me.

My soul feels plumper around the edges already.



Today was my day off, and since my hubby is not home, I sat around with Kelly most of the day and read. I read The Secret Life of Bees and really enjoyed it, although I am not sure about the author's view on spiritual things. That aside though, I was drawn into the story and I was sad when I found myself at the end of the book. It was a compelling story.

I have the emotional niggles today though, those things in the back of my emotions that keep me from relaxing much. They make me irritable and edgy.

Sigh. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.


Nerd Alert

Don't worry; it's not you, it's me. Because I am sitting in bed with my laptop having an im discussion with Kelly, who is downstairs in my living room. :) Whaaaaaaaaat? I was cold, it is past my bedtime and the dog was whining. So I came up to crawl into bed and I am going to shut down in about 2 minutes. But I had to see if Kelly could hear the annoying techno music someone is playing out behind our house. It's a long weekend, so the young uns are out in party force tonight even though it is pretty dang cold out there.

The moon is out, and it looks exactly like the end of a girl's fingernail when it's just sort of long and pretty and then gets torn off in an annoying sort of ripped way.

I am grateful that my hubby is in France with Patrick and Scott because he deserves this chance to rest, be encouraged and restored.

I had a great time with "my girls" tonight. I love seeing their artwork. Next week I'm going to take pictures. We decided that we are watching Christmas movies at our house on Sunday afternoon. And that we are going to watch It's A Wonderful Life no matter how much Troy lobbies for A Christmas Story.


Love is the new black

I never intended to use my blog as some sort of online diary, but I fear that is what is has turned into of late. Any deep thoughts (no Troy and Kelly, not THAT kind of deep thoughts) that may be rattling around in my groggy brain are just not coherent enough to come out at the moment. Hopefully we'll get past this stage though!

Got lots done today. We had a mentoring time with a friend this morning and then had staff meeting all afternoon. It was very productive; we got some work done on logos and colors for Oasis Madrid as well as getting things planned out for our vision meetings that we'll be having from January until June.

Troy didn't have Alpha tonight since it was a holiday today, so we were able to have some family time. That was important especially since Troy leaves for France tomorrow morning. We watched Valiant with the kids, which they enjoyed much more than Willy Wonka.

I've talked before about how much I am enjoying reading The Message translation of the Bible. I'll leave you with this, something that really struck me when we read it on Sunday:

Bit from Colossians 3 (all the bits are important, but these are the ones that really struck me!)
"So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ--that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life--even though invisible to spectators--is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up too--the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ...

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death...doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God....

...You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it....

...So chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it."

You know how fashion is always talking about "the new black?" Well, apparently, the new black is love. I don't think even the world can argue with that!



I'm still thinking about the sevens, so that is going to have to wait a day or two.

I don't know what exactly it is about this fall, but I have never been so tired. Seriously. It's strange.

We watched the new Charlie & the Chocolate Factory tonight with the kids. I liked it; the kids, not so much. Meg is too tender-hearted, she weeps when the bad things happen to the nasty kids, even though they are indeed nasty. When I told her she didn't have to watch it again, she looked up at me with big eyes full of tears and quivering lips and quickly agreed that she was not going to. Poor little soul. Even though she knows that the children all come out again alive at the end; she doesn't like the process of what happens to them. And I am certainly not going to make her watch something she doesn't like. We're getting to the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and I am bummed that I won't be able to take her to see it as planned. It looks great but she'll be scared out of her wits so it will have to wait until she's older. I can't wait though!

I had no idea that with wireless I could also print and access files on other computers :) It's amazing. I am a happy girl. The basement office is also blissfully quiet now that the groaning HP (I have never heard such a loud computer!) is rarely on.

I am also supposed to be writing a newsletter tonight (the yearly printed one) so I better get to it. Think I'll go sit in the living room and hope the Christmas lights inspire me.


"God Night" at the Cadys

One of the girls in our church, Victoria, meets weekly with a group of her seeking friends to study the Bible. Recently they got into some topics that Toria felt a little out of her depth with, so she asked Troy to meet with her group. So tonight we invited them over for a "fireside" chat, some comfort food and at this time of year, Christmas decorations.

Troy and I are a really good team in this area. We love to open our home, and we've grown into a comfortable and rewarding hospitality posture (after outgrowing the "entertaining" stage.) Tonight I made a big pot of soup, Troy lit the fire, and our family welcomed Victoria and five of her friends into our home. Once the hospitality part is done, I disappear to put kids to bed and because I am not good at the cerebral part. I am much more a heart person, but I recognize that the questions these girls are asking are crucial. And Troy is really great at helping people understand this kind of stuff.

It has been a great day. We had our last Crosscurrent group meeting. This has been an amazing eight-week experience for me. Never have I been so eager to have an oily forehead! :) Each Sunday morning, the three other women in my group gave me a safe place to share myself. They prayed with me and over me, and they anointed me with oil. Every Sunday I weep, but they are good tears; healing tears. And I come home really hesitant to wash my face.

After our meeting we shared lunch that we all contributed to. Then we came home and took a nap before we got up to get ready for the girls to
come over. They came bearing bread to go with the soup, some home-made biscuits and a candy-cane for each of the kids. In return they got goodnight hugs from Nic.

It will be a quiet week around here, which I relish. The kids will only go to school tomorrow (it's one of those weeks where there are a bizarre number of holidays.) On Wednesday Troy is going to France for some much needed R&R with two great men who also serve with Christian Associates. I know that it is going to do him a world of good.

I'm going to get some work done as well as just spend some good time with the kids. I know they will be sad that Daddy is going to be out of town again, so we'll have to have some fun to make up for it.

My friend Mary (wife of one of the men Troy will be hanging out with) tagged me to do the "Sevens" so I guess I have to use my noggin and do that tomorrow :)



OK, it's not really Friday, it's Saturday. I really wanted to blog last night but fell into bed very tired. But yesterday was a good day so I figured better late than never :)

In the morning we had Oasis Madrid office hours here at our house. It was fun. Got a lot done. In the afternoon we moved upstairs by the fire since it was a rainy day. Thank goodness for wireless! Then we went to get Meg at school. She came out all excited about the prospect of decorating the Christmas tree.

We start
ed the process with warm churros & homemade hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. Mmmmmmm. For those of you who have not experienced this, come to Madrid and we'll initiate you! I mean really, decorating a tree is a lot of work, so we had to get our strength up!

We spent the evening decorating and got mostly done. Still have to finish up and clear away the aftermath of boxes. Victoria came over too, as well as Debbie, who needed a place to stay for the weekend. We ended the night with spaghetti for dinner.

Then we feel into bed!



Nothing much to report, but all is well. I'm going to have to figure out how to post on Wednesdays because my day gets so busy that I just don't get to it.

I'm pleased to announce that my desk is clean and my laptop is almost set-up with what I need. I cleaned off my old computer for the kids to use so they were excited about that.

Tomorrow we are having Oasis Madrid office hours here, which I am excited about. It's much more fun to work in community and it feels really good to have Kelly back. Yahoo.

Then after school we are going to put up our Christmas decorations. Normally we do it the weekend after Thanksgiving but since Troy was in Morocco we couldn't do it without him. So tomorrow is the day. I love decorating for Christmas.

We have a fairly busy weekend coming up, but next week will be quiet with public holidays.


All Is Well With the World

Things are good. Kelly is back in Madrid, sitting in my house. Victoria is here, we have a box of Mercadona truffles and we are going to watch a movie. Yahoo.

I am a bit concerned that now that I have a laptop with wireless, I will never ever get my desk cleaned off again! But again, you don't see me running downstairs to the office to start cleaning right now!
That's all for now! I know this hardly qualifies as a post. Maybe tomorrow.



No people, not my age, number of posts. But this will be anti-climactic, I promise.

~I'm hungry; waiting for the frozen pizza to cook.

~My hubby will be home in less than an hour instead of the 1:00 am tomorrow morning arrival time we expected.

~I got my new laptop today so now I can sit on the couch and do this. Tomorrow night I'm building a fire and then I can gloat to anyone that wants to chat with me while I sit by the fire :) Nice eh?

~I had plans of having the house all spiffy for when my hubby got back. But due to the fact that I was pretty much out of the house all day, plus the fact that the cold medicine I took last night did not help me sleep but made me jittery instead so I am knackered, and of course since I have a new gadget to rile up my Grant Gadget genes the house is not so spiffy. Oh well.

~It's pretty cold. Not good because that means the heat is coming on a lot so we'll have to get the gasoil tank filled soon.

~And that my dears, is the end of my brilliance for tonight~


Let's Review, Shall We?

I asked my friend Bec if it was vain to post a pictorial review of my life in honor of my 37th birthday. We concluded that if I posted bad pictures to balance good pictures then it would be acceptable. Enjoy!

My very smart Mom delivered the firstborn and only female grandchild on her mother-in-law's birthday.

See, I can't help it. I started making funny faces at a young age.

Daddy's Girl!

Me & Mom

Girl in Boots (you notice most of the photos are when I'm small...they are the cutest!)

Then I had a baby brother, Scott.

Bad haircut, freckles & toothless

Spectacled, braces and horrible 70's clothes. When I had to get braces and glasses I wailed to my Mom "If I get any more spare parts, I'll be the tin soldier!"

Bad hair for graduation

Proof that I was really skinny once!

In college and still making silly faces

A husband

A daughter

A son

A family

I think I'm going to like being 37.

Thank you Lord for 37 years.