Where Was Lulu? All Your Questions Answered. Well, some of them, anyway. This is Part I.

It was Spain. That's where Lulu was. And a little bit France, but mostly Spain.

As you may recall, the whole family was in France just last spring. So we didn't really intend to go back to Europe this year, but the husband was invited to be a part of a delegation going from Los Angeles on this trip to Spain for the beatification of (now) Blessed Alvaro del Portillo. And I'm Jim's plus one. So, off we went.

There was some hang-wringing on my part about whether or not to bring Lulu. She's ten months old and a great sleeper-in-cribs and a terrible sleeper-in-public. She just can't bear the idea of depriving anyone of her company. She's still a good nurser, but she's also an amazing eater of table foods, including stuff none of my other babies could eat at her age and with no teeth. I think she would have been okay, and gotten a lot more sleep, if I had left her behind. But when push came to shove . . . I just didn't want to. So she came with us, too.

And she did great, all things considered. She's a really easy baby, and playing #whereislulu with you guys ended up being a ton of fun.

My parents are amazing, and generously offered to watch the other kids for us.

One note before we start. Remember how I said I had this great system for using Instagram with my new wifi memory card? And how the only problem was that to keep from uploading all my vacation photos onto the iPad, I was going to use two memory cards? Well, it worked great. The whole trip, I just kept the extra memory card in its little case in the outer pocket of my purse. Mostly I shot photos on the standard card, but each day, I switched it out and took a few on the wifi card, so that once I had internet access, I could upload just those photos, and share a couple on Instagram and Facebook.

Everything went just according to plan, right up until this evening, when I reached in to that pocket in my purse and came out empty handed. So far, I have managed not to cry OR have a heart attack. But I'm bummed to be missing 80% of my photos from the trip.

If you would help me pester Blessed Alvaro and St. Anthony about it, I would be grateful. I'm still hopeful it will turn up somewhere in the house. And while we're at it, please say a quick prayer for Jim, he has an important meeting today.

But, the silver lining is, that I have considerably fewer photos than usual to edit and throw at y'all. Let's get started.

The journey began, where journeys so often do . . . at LAX. Lulu thought her passport was very tasty.

We had a quick layover in Newark, where I had to buy diapers at an airport gift shop, as if I'm NOT a person who travels with babies ALL THE TIME and writes oft-pinned blog posts doling out advice on the subject. Anyway, in case I wasn't clear on that before, when traveling by air with a baby, you really should bring diapers with you. Quite a few of them, actually.

That taken care of, we set off for Barcelona. Lulu and I had a bulkhead seat, but the husband was waaaaaaaaay in the back, because normally you have to pay to upgrade to the bulkhead row. So it was her and me. And the two businessmen next to us. It was a long flight, just over seven hours, but Lulu slept for less than two. She spent the rest of the time frantically trying to get the attention of her fellow passengers. She just couldn't believe they would want to sleep through all the great stuff she was doing. It really is the craziest age to try to travel. And I MAY have wasted a good portion of her sleep watching a movie I didn't even like. But Lulu arrived chipper, as usual . . . if a tad bit suspicious of Catalan.

We got right to touristing. In our jammies. Because we were with a tour group, and that was the plan. I had never done a group tour before, usually I'm the trip planner and tour guide. It was really great to have a guide with us and a driver to get us everywhere, but I did miss the flexibility of doing things on our own. We visited IESE, a business school in Barcelona with a excellent reputation, lovely views of the city, and very comfy chairs.

Then, we saw the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral, a Gothic style cathedral and the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain.

It was Gothic all right. It's so interesting to me how similar the edifice of this cathedral is to the Gothic cathedrals we saw in France. I guess fads are just THAT ingrained in human nature. Carved transepts and pokey spires were the skinny jeans of the 15th century. Everybody was doing it.

The next day we were in Barcelona again. The highlight of the day and, for me, the highlight of the trip was our visit to Sagrada Familia. I was stunned and moved by this masterpiece of modern art by devout Catholic and architectural genius Antonio Gaudi. And boy was I not expecting to be. Everyone calls it a "modern masterpiece," but you hear that term bandied about quite a bit. Gaudi is called a visionary. He was a post-modernist before modernism was even a thing. Well, a postmodernist Spanish architect (not Gaudi, of course) designed the LA Cathedral, and he made it completely devoid of right angles, and, um, beautiful-ness.

Jim's home parish in Chicago is 60's era modernist . . . um, not-masterpiece. When I look at its stained glass windows, my thoughts don't go to Heaven, so much as to jello jigglers.

So, I did not have high hopes.



It turns out that it's not that I don't like modern art. It's that I don't like BAD modern art. Every detail means something. Everything is an attempt at a vision of Heaven. Yes, it's different than anyone else's vision. It's utterly unique, and it's challenging. But it's beautiful. I was especially entranced by the way the colors flow from one window to the next. It felt almost as though they were swirling around.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1882, and they are still hard at work. They expect to be finished in 2026, the hundredth anniversary of Gaudi's death. God willing, we'll go back again after its completion. It's that good.

Okay, enough for today, yes? Come back next time for candlelight processions, giant babies, and my new favorite title of Mary: Our Lady of Blessed Multi-Tasking While Parenting. . . . You won't want to miss it.