ChAlli in Lisbon

Simply Living

February 10, 2024 Cody Said/She Said

cody on the bed

Cody's latest adventures and Alli getting a little more settled into Portuguese life.

Cody Said:

I’m baaaack! My humans said I couldn’t blog again until I had more to say, but I was feeling forgotten, so I’ll tell you everything I know and hope you enjoy it.

Since my last blog, my people have left me a few times with that nice lady, Ana. She comes to our house and stays with me when they go away. I don’t really like when they leave so when they get home, I sometimes pee on the floor with excitement, just to show them! But Ana is really nice, she even lets me sleep in her bed!

The dog park is going pretty good. I see different friends each time I go, and for the most part, they play well with me. Except the few that take my ball and chew it until the squeaker goes away, I find them a little rude.

So, Ana is what they call a vet tech, which basically means she helps the vet torture me. It’s really confusing whether or not to be nice to Ana when we go to the vet since I like her a lot (and did I mention she lets me sleep with her?). But she is a definite accomplice to that vet person who pokes, prods, and calls me overweight (she thinks I don’t understand, but I do, and it hurts). In fact, her comments have led my people to skimp on how much food they give me. Can you believe that? On top of that, they call me big butt and fatty bumbaladie. What meanies, right!?!?!?

I digress. So, here’s my strategy: I lick Ana but bark at the vet. This causes the vet to try sooooo hard to get me to like her. The more I bark, the more she gives me treats like cookies and even wet food! Eventually, I let her look at me a little when mom holds me, but not until my feast is complete. You have to appreciate the effort, though; mom says she’s never in her life seen a vet work as hard as this one for a dog to like them.

Oh, also, some “reactive” dog bit my ear. Minor flesh wound (it was bleeding!) but dang, that sh*t hurt! But I did forgive her, now she’s my friend, and I try to sneak upstairs to see her every chance I get!

Well, I guess that’s about it for now.

Alli Said:

With each month that passes, I get a little more settled into life here. Someone said to me, “It sounds like you have figured out how to live a simple life.” I wasn’t sure if this felt offensive or observant, but after some real thought, I decided it was observant.

As either a full-time student or full-time employee, I’ve pretty much worked for my entire life, starting at age 12. I could never fully understand what people who weren’t working did with their time. I would joke with my stay-at-home friends that they must be sitting around eating bonbons all day while their kids were at school, not realizing just how offensive I must have sounded until now. So, let this be a public apology to all those I’ve ever judged. I’m sorry and I get it now!

In my temporary retirement, I now realize just how busy life as a homemaker and mom can be without a job on top of it. I keep asking Chad how in the world we ever got anything done while both working full-time! In slowing down, I realize just how fast I was going and, in many ways, how much maybe I’ve missed. But I don’t see this as a lookback woe is me moment. Prior to moving here, I loved our life, time with family and friends, truly loved my job, etc. I know that is how life was meant to be for the time it was, and I was happy with it. But now I see this as an opportunity to pause and consider a pivot to a different way. Working, for me, has always been a guiding force, and I am blessed to love what I do for a living. So, I have no doubt I’ll go back to it in some form. The challenge is to figure out how to do that and also incorporate some of what I’m learning about myself and about spending time/taking care of my family going forward. How? Not sure yet. In the meantime, I’ll keep “living my best life” while I figure it out, as suggested by Captain (who incidentally but accidentally coined the label “Challi” when he married us).

Despite going for 6+ months now, I’m still intrigued every time I go to the supermarket. First of all, I’ve realized that having a small fridge and even smaller icebox that acts like a freezer, limits what we can fit. That means I shop every few days for day-to-day items and stop in again along the way for dinner items. That also means I’m not stocking up for weeks/months (like we did with Costco) and, therefore, not throwing food away. It’s become a mission for me, and so far, we’re doing really well! I’ve also noticed that the supermarket isn’t terribly consistent. One week, I’ll find exactly what I need and wonder why I never saw it the week prior. Only to look again the next week and not be able to find it again. This past week, I got the same organic eggs I always get, but each carton I opened had feathers in it! I mean, ok it’s fresh, and I clearly know where it came from, but where have the feathers been before?

Another new happening for us this past month was going to the American Embassy. We needed to renew Seb’s passport, so I made an appointment, and off we went. It was fairly uneventful except for the immediate realization that overhearing people speaking English, a bit loudly in the waiting room, talking about their adventures and woes, was not as fun as I expected. It’s a funny thing to crave things from “home” like foods or products and customer service reps to understand your ask, only to then have it for a short snippet and not really appreciate it as much as you thought you would. Chad and I both remember our 6-month honeymoon trip coming to an end, and when we landed in Chicago and heard someone speaking really loudly on his cell phone in the airport, we felt even sadder for it to be over. I think there’s a specific luxury in overhearing people talking in another language that allows you to either tune it out (because you don’t understand it) or use it as a learning moment to try and understand/speak the language. It’s actually a funny and ironic realization coming from this self-proclaimed “yenta” who normally hears and sees everything, even three tables away at a restaurant, to Chad’s dismay!

With a few more months under our belt and holidays in the rearview, I’ve had a little time to branch out and meet some people here. I attended an international women’s group happy hour, which was nice but slightly above my age group. That’s not to say people weren’t nice and friendly, just that I’m at a different point in my life, and although temporarily retired and learning to iron and sew pants, I still have an 11-year-old and like to go out past 10p 😊. Might save that lovely group for real retirement.

Someone I met through a friend invited me to join a hiking group with women more my age. This was wonderful and allowed me to get just outside of Lisbon and see some of the beautiful coast. I fully plan to continue joining this group and look forward to seeing more of the landscape.

We met some really nice fellow expat American neighbors just upstairs who were interested in seeing if their “reactive” dog would play with ours. So, we introduced her (Lola) to Cody, and after some initial posturing and barking on her part, they figured it out and got along great (without toys or bones, that is). And now they whine and cry to hang out whenever they see each other!

Tuesdays with Talia, now changed to Middle Eastern Mondays, is a night when my amazing niece and I now cook together. Talia is now living in her own apartment with friends in Jerusalem, and we've started weekly cooking sessions. She tells me what to buy and how to prepare it alongside her, and so far, I’ve made two successful Middle Eastern dishes! As many of you know, cooking is not my forte and definitely not my favorite thing to do. But I’m trying, and my Talia is so patient and kind in teaching me. And, of course, I love spending that time with her, which I couldn’t do at home with the 9-hour time change, which is only 2 hours here!

Speaking of…. I have to blog this comment that came from Sebastian so I can not only remember it in years to come but also remind him that he said it.

One night, after I made dinner, a fairly simple chicken dish that I thought turned out fine, he said to me, “Mommy, you have a lot of talents. But cooking isn’t one of them. But I think it’s great that you’re trying and I’m proud of you cause some people wouldn’t keep trying like you are”.

I mean, WTF do you say to that?! That kid…

We also got together again with our favorite Portuguese family, who cooked us the absolute best home-cooked meal we’ve had since moving to Lisbon. Pedro made the most delicious duck rice, with a cheese appetizer, salad, strawberries, and another cheese dessert, and… yum! We really enjoyed time with the Sousa family and, as always, appreciate their hospitality not just in their home but also in their country.

In trying to find a second round of introductory Portuguese language classes, I somehow got myself into facilitating an English conversational group with non-native English speakers. While I didn’t intend to volunteer for this 8-week class twice a week, it’s actually been fun. I have people from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Portugal, and Russia right now. The program gives me a rough guide of topics and we talk about things like weather and jobs/occupations, family, travel, etc. Last week, we played Kahoot with vocabulary. It’s incredibly eye-opening to “teach” English and realize how strange and difficult to explain some of our idioms and slang speech can be!

So, that about does it for the past few months since I’ve blogged. We had an unexpected but great visit with our brother-in-law, Max, and a visit from some Indiana cousins. Other than another round of mild illnesses and what seems like a lot of rain on and off, life is good. A lady at the dog park told me I sounded Portuguese one day when I complained about the rain (more so in that moment as I looked at my muddy dog that would need a bath as a result of the rain). But she said it was sunny so many days during the year that Portuguese people get spoiled, and when it rains for a few days, they all complain. Didn't take me long to assimilate to that one, Lisbon!

Up next, half term school break in Barcelona!

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