Fitness Quest 2013

Hi Everyone,

Well, a summer in Spain, and a transition into the house has made for a very large increase in weight for me.  (Not to mention the baby weight I ‘decided’ to hold onto) I have decided that this is the year that I get fit.  What better way to motivate than to share my goals with the world.  I have thought about going vegan, but I really like chicken and just started eating fish about 4 years ago!  So I’m not ready to give that up…Also, I cannot say enough about cheese.  Mmmmmmm…Anyhow, I have been adding more veggies into my diet, which I believe is the number best change one can make to their diet.  Just add more greens and the rest will follow.  I also joined a gym and have been doing really well working out for the week that I’ve been there.  I have been exploring all the classes and enjoying their yoga studio.  It’s been quite a change for me, as I never enjoyed working out at a gym before.  And last, but most definitely not least, I have been tracking my food on  (username:  JenneeJumpUp) I am really diggin’ this site!  At first I believe it would be such a chore, but now it’s almost like a game.

“How many calories did I eat today?”  “Uh oh, too many sugars today, better watch out for that tomorrow.”  “WTH, My sodium is THROUGH THE ROOF!”

That last one really got me, as high blood pressure and heart disease is in my family bloodline.  When I really looked into what I thought was a super healthy day of eating, I found that it was the salad dressing that threw me over the top.  After a little bit more research, I found this :

and will try these quick and easy dressings over the next week.

Wishing you a happy, healthy day!


Barcelona, Part 3

After our very late night, we slept in until about noon.  Mike was up a little earlier, looking up good Mexican restaurants in Barcelona.  He found two online.  We decided to try Rosa Negra and were not disappointed!  They did not have burritos on the menu, so we ordered sides of beans, cheese, rice, sour cream, and tortillas for the kiddos.  I ordered the Enchiladas Roja and a Pacifico!


We wandered around and found an old church built in the Roman style.  It was being refurbished, but still had the solemness one would expect in a church.  Not like the Sagrada Familia.  We were able to take an elevator to the roof, and it was a magnificent view.  Barcelona, as a collective, seems to be really into looking at the city.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘it’s a long hike up the hill and you can see all of Barcelona’.  They have good reason to be proud.


After taking a couple of recharge days, we went back to it.  Shannon and I checked out the Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s creations.  It was amazing, and I was ready to move in.  Mike asked me if I was going to want to add some Gaudi components to our house…and I say, ‘Why not?’


After walking around Barcelona’s main ‘expensive’ shopping area and buying nothing but an icee, We stopped off for some drinks.  Excuse me, we ordered the LARGE!


On our way back to the subway, we stopped by to greet another street performer.  Then, to our surprise, the horse carriage we have been eyeing for 3 days was empty!  We jumped right on!


After walking through the narrow streets for so many days, it was nice to sit back and enjoy Barcelona in it’s glory.  Our carriage driver spoke little English, but enough to point out the places of interest.  It was cool to see all the places we had visited, and forgot to visit, from the seat of a carriage.  That was the day of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  We turned it on about 20 minutes into it, but were so excited to watch it together.  The beauty of the Olympics is that no matter the language, it is still a joy to watch.

Here are the top 5 things I’ve learned about travelling in Europe.

5.  Shower doors and curtains are not necessarily included in the price of your room.

4.  No matter what country you’re in, the coffee pot will always leak when you pour a cup of coffee.

3.  Just because the trinket on the shelf has a price tag on it, does not mean that is the price ~ there is always room to negotiate.

2.  In our experiences, Spain, as a whole, smokes a lot more than the French we encountered.

1. Believe it or not, Ikea makes the world go round!

Tomorrow morning the kids and I leave.  I’m happy to get home and settle into our new home, but on the same note, I can’t believe it’s already been a month.  Last night we enjoyed tapas in the rain…San Clemente, here we come, and Barcelona, you will always be in my heart!

Barcelona, Part 2

One of the things I really wanted to experience in Barcelona, was the unique style of Gaudi.  One of the places to do this, so I thought, was at the Park Guell.  I imagined rolling hills with various animal sculptures everywhere.  A visual candy land, and I promised the kids this much.  I was disappointed to see that the sculptures were quite limited, but not nearly as disappointed as the kids…One in particular was not happy about all the walking around.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed that which we did see.


We decided to finish our day with a stroll on the beach.  We dipped our feet in the water, and found a beach stand that sold nachos and ribs.  The kids were thrilled!  Maybe it made up for  all the walking at Park Guell.


After such a lovely evening at the beach for dinner the night before, we decided an entire day at the beach was in order.  Except for the smoke, and the guys walking around yelling “ICE COLD MOJITOS!  AGUA BEER CERVEZA COKE!”  every two seconds, we had a lovely time.

The following day, we hit the Aquarium and spent our day wandering around Port Vell.  The Aquarium had one of those tunnels with the sharks swimming by.  It was VERY cool!


After the Aquarium, the kids wanted to bounce.  🙂  After Andorra, these girls were pros.  And they were all able to go at the same time.

We ended our evening with a stroll along La Rambla.  We found a few street performers and tossed some change in their cans.  🙂  We even saw squirrels for sale along the Rambla!  Squirrels!


While we were on La Rambla, we signed up to see a Flamenco show the following night.  I didn’t not bring the camera that night, but it was amazing.  The kids were just in awe!  We were all crammed into this room with a tiny stage.  I assumed there would be two dancers, a guy and a gal.  But lo and behold there were 3 pairs!!!  Plus a bunch of musicians!!!   I still can’t believe they fit them all on that tiny stage and were still able to dance, but that’s the magic of Barcelona!

We decided to eat after we went to the show.  Maybe not the best planning on our part as the show got out at 11:45 pm.  By the time we found a place we liked and finished eating, it was 1:30 am.  We walked over to the metro, only to find it closed.  WHAT?  Imagine our surprise at the Barcelona subway being closed!  We had no idea!  We saddled up and started walking.  About a half an hour later, we made it home, all very tired.  When we were about 10 minutes away, Shannon lifts her head off of Mike’s shoulder and says in a very tired/sweet voice, “You know, we could have just taken a taxi Dad.”  Well, now, where’s the fun in that?

Barcelona, part 1

Wow.  Just Wow.  Barcelona has been wonderful.  It’s hard to believe that we our visit is coming to a close.  I am so grateful to have spent so much time here!  We have had many adventures, stayed up until midnight or beyond every night, and danced in the streets.

When I say we danced in the streets, I mean that literally.  The first night we got here, we wanted to go see the Magic Fountain.  We were misinformed as to which subway station to get off on, and ended up at a little food truck at the base of a castle to ask directions.  There was Jazz playing,  and hot dogs.  So when the food truck worker informed us that we had about an hour’s walk in the other direction to the Magic Fountain, we threw our hands in the air and ordered a couple of hot dogs for G and S and beers for us.  R and J were convinced we’d find something better to eat.


After a rest and conversation with the food truck guy, we wandered back towards the subway station.  It took us awhile, but we found the station we needed to get home.  But not before we came across a concert in the street.  Well, our first night in Barcelona, and a concert in the street?  We obviously had no choice but to stop!


On our way from the subway station, we found something to eat, but not necessarily something better, but we had fun with the doors while Mike ordered.


We got home without a hitch, but also without the Magic Fountain.  That would have to be for the following night.

The next day, we walked by the church near our house.  It was Gaudi’s last work before he died, and it’s still not finished.  The Sagrada Familia is a massive cathedral with intense architecture.  It’s lovely, there is no doubt, but it kind of takes the solemness out of it, when there is a line around it to buy tickets to get in!  I’m not sure this is what Gaudi had in mind when he built it, but what do I know?  Still, it is an amazing piece of work.


Mike and I especially liked the Starbuck’s across the street, in honor of our dear friend Carolyn.

After a day of checking out the area,  we took the subway to the CORRECT station, and found ourselves at the Magic Fountain.  It was amazing.  It happened to be Grandpa Browne’s birthday, so the girls sang Happy Birthday to him with the fountain in the background.


Here are the girls dancing in front of the fountain:


La France

On the way to my friend’s house we stopped at the Parc de la Prehistoire

We definitely could have stayed all day, but we had a schedule to attend to, so we didn’t get to do all the activities.  Here is what we did get to do:


After a walk around the Prehistoric Park, we drove to Foix for some lunch.  We could have stayed all day there as well!  It’s a 3 hour hike up to the intact castle evidently, so we decided since we needed to be in Toulouse in 1 1/2 hours, it probably wasn’t a good idea.  The village center is also very nice.  We decided lunch would have to be the extent of our adventure for this town, so Mike ordered a giant salad and of course kangaroo.  The girls liked the colors of the napkins!


We made it to Toulouse with only a couple of “recalculating” moments, and found the bustling city to be quite overwhelming at first, after all of our country and beach living.  We found our apartment:

There was a shower door, but the drain was super slow.  That’s the only complaint.

After we settled in, we had dinner with my friend and her parents.  I haven’t seen her in 15 years, and haven’t been to France in 18 years!  So it’s been awhile!  We toured Toulouse with my friend, her beau and their son, then visited Cordes.  (The kids got to take the Metro for the first time!)  It was fun seeing these places for a second time.  The things I remember are so different than those things I take with me now!  For example, the only thing I remember about Cordes is the Sugar Museum, not the fact that it is a Medieval village completely intact!


Playing peek-a-boo with my friend’s son and the Bells at St. Sernin:


On our way to Cordes we had the classical music a blaring as we drove through the rolling hills and lush vineyards.


Here is one of the sculptures on display at the Cordes Sugar Museum (the one thing I remember from my first visit in 1994)

And Grace and Shannon get into the Medieval mood:

My friend’s parent’s house was getting some work done.  The front and the back yard were the same as I remember, except for one thing!  The backyard used to have a view of the entire city of Toulouse!  3 months ago, a builder built these duplexes, right in the line of view!  😦


It was great to visit France, but after all that Spanish, and the kids speaking in English, my mind was whirling while trying to speak French!  It was a true wake up call for me that I need to really kick up my languages!  And of course, I wish that we had been able to stay in France at least another week.  🙂  It is obvious that I need to find a job which requires me to travel to France.

Andorra, part 2

Our second day in Canillo was fantastic.  In the winter, Canillo is home to one of the most prominent ski resorts in Europe.  The Grand Valira.  But in the summer, the Grand Valira houses a Family Fun Park.  We had a blast trying our luck at archery, bouncing, tubing, and dog sleighing in the Pyrenees.


Rachel masters the backflip:

Julia masters the backflip:

Shannon masters the backflip:

Grace masters the backflip:



We had a lovely time, and could have enjoyed a couple more days in Canillo, but alas, France was calling.  So back to the tunnel:

A bientot!

Andorra, part 1

So we left Spain for our adventure in Andorra.  It was a beautiful drive with lots of sunflowers along the way.  We left early, as it was about a 3 hour drive, and we wanted to make the most of our time in Andorra.  When we approached the tunnel of Cadi we were all very excited.  We have a tradition in our family to scream whenever going through a tunnel.

This went on for a good 5 or 8 minutes.  It progressed to the following:

The scenery was beautiful, as I’m sure you can imagine.  When we parked the Black Bocadillo in the parking garage (WITH THE LIGHTS OFF!)  we left her there for two days to enjoy our time in Canillo.  Here are some pics from the road.


We checked into our hotel and walked around Canillo looking for a great lunch.  We were NOT disappointed!

      This is the best soup I have ever tasted!

          During our walk through Canillo there came a point when we were surrounded by motorcross guys.  They all rode down to this little creek and started setting up these huge metal boxes, turning them into a stunt.  There were place set up throughout the village for this competition.


The guys were scored on their stunt work, then, at the end of the day, there was a victor.

This was all part of Canillo’s annual festival, which means music and festivities late into the night.

After dinner Mike and Shannon went back to the room, (turns out that a 6 year old has a tough time staying up late several days in a row…imagine that!)  Grace, Rachel, Julia and I set out to enjoy some music!


Grace loved all the excitement!  She got so into the music, her energy was contagious!  She was even able to get the twins into the action!

 This one is for Grandpa Browne who suggested we say Hello Dali, while we were in Figueres!!!!!!