Saturday, November 29, 2014

two months

That's how long it's been since my last post, give or take a day or two.

I feel bad for neglecting my sad little blog. The truth is I haven't been writing here, because I've been working on a writing a book. Can you believe it?

Well you shouldn't because it's an absolute lie. How many of you believed that for a hot second?
I haven't been writing here because I'm lazy.
Not busy.

Glad we've cleared that up.

Let's jump right in, shall we?
The kids had a whole week off of school for Thanksgiving Break, a fact that I hadn't really realized in advance as I rarely consult a calendar. But I am never one to complain about a series of days in which no alarm is required.

We stayed here in Alabama for the holiday, and plan to do the same for Christmas. Josh is a busy bee-- always reading and writing, and he has thesis-writing scheduled for Christmas break. I've never been more glad to not be him than I am this year.

We had Thanksgiving dinner just the four of us, and have just about polished off all the leftovers. My turkey was a delicious golden-brown color. I have to brag about some aspect of it because it wasn't until after our meal, when Josh was carving up the rest to put away that we realized I'd neglected to remove the bag of giblets.


I'm really good in the kitchen. I guess it was a step up from last year, when I served a bucket of KFC.

We bought a TV on Black Friday because the only one we had boasted a 19 inch screen. It seemed like maybe it was time.

Since my last post, Derek has moved from soccer to basketball season, and Alex started tumbling. They still spend loads of time outside playing with the neighborhood riff-raff.
I guess they are the neighborhood riff-raff. Today was warm enough for shorts and tee-shirts if you can believe it. I am totally on board with a southern winter, now that the mosquitos are finally gone.

They stayed until mid-November, which I find to be ridiculous. I'm not sure which governing body I can complain to about that.

My weeks still look about the same.

Monday-- Weekend Recovery (This means extra coffee time in the morning to enjoy the quiet, and thinking about what I want to accomplish during the week. There is usually about an hour of productive house cleaning that happens on Monday, which is about 55 minutes more than occurs any other day of the week)

Tuesday-- Grocery Shopping (The commissary is two minutes away and the whole chore takes about an hour, but I like to declare that Tuesday is for Grocery Shopping and refuse to entertain the idea of adding another task to the day)

Wednesday-- This is my busiest day. I have Bible Study first thing in the morning, grab lunch with friends, go directly to Spanish class, and leave from there for school pickup. I know. I can't believe it either.

Thursday-- Wednesday Recovery (Goal-- never leave the house)

Friday-- Rock Band and cocktails at 1:30. My friend Ali from the 'hood and I have a standing date to play, well, Rock Band on the wii. It's totally normal for a couple of middle-age women to sing and play fake instruments on a video game system while their children are in school, right?

So now you're all caught up on my glamorous life. Boom.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Things that have happened.

There are lots of things.
I will start my list with 0.5 mostly because I forgot that point, I want to be orderly, and also I don't want to go back and change my other numbers because laziness.

0.5) A long, long time ago, on the Fifteenth of August of the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fourteen,  Derek turned 7.

I filled these water balloons. Crouching down by the water spout and tying these dreadful things was more painful than giving birth seven years before.
Water balloons are a labor of love.

I cannot comment on my baby turning seven. It's too much.

1) TGBIO2014

The Great Bike Incident of 2014.

This was a less-than-pleasant incident that occurred when I was riding my bike home from the housing office here on the base. Being a patriotic sort of person, I wanted to pick up a flag kit to display Old Glory on our front porch. Unfortunately, Old Glory slipped from my hands into my front wheel spokes as I was traveling at a good clip.
My bike came to a sudden stop.

I did not.

I did the flying squirrel right over the handlebars and used the friction of my skin against the sidewalk to stop myself. I learned that it is not the best way to stop yourself.

Thankfully I did not use my head, face, or teeth to stop myself so I suppose there is always a silver lining.

I am all healed up now. Except for some scars.

And my pride.

2) Teeth are falling out of my kids' heads.

Derek dined on his second front tooth, leaving him at that stage I just can't get enough of. Kids without their two front teeth are the cutest.


(Cowey got a new friend!)

He was relieved to find that if you leave a note under your pillow explaining that you swallowed your tooth, the Tooth Fairy will overlook the slight and still leave you some cash.
Alex lost her first molar and although she doubts the existence of the Tooth Fairy, she still placed the tooth under her pillow and accepted what was left behind. She is a doubter but she is no fool.

3) My husband has read more books in the last 3 months than he's ever read in his life. And not interesting books, either. At least not by my standards.
They call this course the Book-A-Day Club, and also "SAASS*: Where fun goes to die".
It is living up to the hype for him.

*School of Advanced Air and Space Studies

The poor chap doesn't get a whole lot of down time. So I enjoy mine on his behalf.

3) Soccer

Derek started playing soccer on the base team and he's been having a swell time. He's not particularly gifted in the athletic arena, but he doesn't know that so we'll just leave it as our secret.

He is awfully cute though.

4) 80's

Thank heavens we have finally dropped out of the everyday-is-in-the-90s which I thought might never happen. I was seeing people's photos on The Facebooks of things like Jackets and Long Sleeves and jealousy sprung up in my heart.
We are finally having some crisp mornings, and cooler evenings and so I can overlook the fact that the bike ride to collect the kids in the afternoon still makes me sweat.

I've never had to wash my bras as often as I do living here.
Under-boob sweat is no joke.

5) Routines

The kids started up with AWANA again and it's been a nice addition to our week. We found one that meets on Sunday evenings, which we prefer as the weekday after-school hours fly by with homework, playing outside, making lunches, etc.

I joined a Bible Study Fellowship group that meets on Wednesday mornings, and it's been great to be a part of a women's study again.

I was thrilled to find out that I could join a Spanish class that is offered to the Air Command and Staff College students here on base. They opened it up to spouses as well and I can't tell you how perfect it is for me! I was wondering how I was going to be able to keep up my Spanish and this basically fell into my lap. What a blessing! The class is super small because it is a higher level, and the instructor is from Spain so I can continue to hear and learn the Castellano dialect.

So basically everything's coming up Erin.

Except, of course, for TGBIO2014.

ps I have no pictures of my daughter because she is never home. She is much too busy to stop and allow me to take her photo. There is playing to be done. I shall try to do better.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blog, what blog?

We are alive and well in Alabama. It's been a long time since I've posted because we were busy with all the busyness that results from moving into a new home a couple of days before school starts while one of the adults in the family is in the midst of a challenging course which leaves him with no free time to help unpack boxes, hang curtains, or write run-on sentences.

Then after we were settled-ish, I put off blogging because I had too much to catch y'all* up on and it felt overwhelming. So I didn't blog, and then more stuff happens, and it's a vicious cycle.

*Oh yeah, people. I'm all in.

So I guess it's time to just dive in and get started.

We are living on base and we're loving it. It's been ideal for this particular assignment for the following reasons:

1) We live on a circle with a playground in the middle. There are always kids outside to play with and the bicycle gang owns that circle. It's been so great to let the kids get a taste of what I had growing up-- being outside all the time, getting some freedom from mom and dad, and donating half of their blood supply to the mosquitoes. It's like Hades out there but they don't seem to care.

2) Bikes, baby. We ride 'em everywhere. The kids ride bikes to school, Josh rides to work, and we almost never have to put gas in the van.

(Aside-- I say van, instead of vehicles, because until very recently our car had not yet arrived from its Spanish voyage. This is due largely in part to the enormous cluster of the military changing contractors during PCS season ((Permanent Change of Station--moving time!)) and cars were being lost, damaged, and delayed. In our case, the Corolla Sport ((yes, it is imperative that you know it is a Sport edition)) made the transatlantic trip rather quickly, and then sat in a line at customs in Savannah for around 75 days. It was that last trip between Savannah and the pickup location of Atlanta, that was a bridge too far. Why, yes, astute reader, those two cities are in the same state. Fortunately for us we didn't really need the car, but we know lots of other people who are having to deal with this issue as well who truly do need their vehicles. I'm generally not one to complain much about the military moving process, as we've accepted that there is a certain amount of inconvenience involved in this lifestyle. It just seems this particular PCS season has been full of horror stories of moves gone bad and I do feel that the systems set in place should be running smoothly to take some of the burden off of the families. End of rant.)
ps- we're picking up the Corolla Sport tomorrow in Hotlanta.

This is our new house:

It is an old duplex, only the left side is ours. It is small and the bedrooms have old carpets. The laundry is in the creepy basement and I can't stand fully erect or I might knock myself out with the pipes that hang down overhead.
We're happy here :)
The lifestyle makes up for the rougher edges, and it's super quick to clean. I even think the living room space is cozy and not too shabby.

And I think time is going to fly by and before I know it there will be boxes again.
Like, 9 months from now.


Back to my list:

3) Neighbors!
Our friends hooked us up with the house next door. So we've got built-in friends. The kids are fast friends and it's so dang convenient to have people you can ask for help right next door. Or maybe not ask, and just take advantage of. Like me, today:


(Another Aside-- we got iPhones! It's like, we're totally hip now)

So there you have it. We've moved in, we like our 'hood, and we'll be out of here before we know it.

Next time I will regale you with the true story of THE GREAT BIKE INCIDENT OF 2014, in which I donate a good portion of my very own skin to a sidewalk in need.

I am always giving.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sweet Home Alabama

Guess what happens tomorrow? I get my bed back! It's been over six weeks since the following has occurred:

- we moved out of our piso in Madrid
- we had a ten-day hotel stay before leaving Spain
- we flew to Michigan and stayed for a month (except Josh-- keep up!)
- the kids and I flew to Montgomery last Saturday
- we've been staying in the TLF* on base
- tomorrow the movers bring our big shipment from Spain
- Saturday other movers bring our storage shipment from what we left behind in California (most importantly, the washer and dryer!)

* temporary lodging facility-- bigger than a hotel, designed for longer stays and set up for families. Small kitchen, sticky floors, old bathrooms.

I can't go any further in this post before I relate that while I was just walking in the dark to the laundry room to change the loads over, I almost stepped on a bug that was big enough to put a leash on and call a pet. It's been a while since I've lived in the South. You can call it a palmetto bug if it makes you feel better, but we all know it's really just a flying roach.

This is a direct quote from the Orkin website regarding these devil creatures' affinity to fly toward light sources:

"This particular behavior is disconcerting for homeowners who encounter a large roach that flies near their face when entering doors with lights nearby in the evening."

Ya think? I can think of some stronger terms than "disconcerting."

Moving on--

My children start school in FIVE days. Yes, you read that right. Five. As in 5. Cinco. Like, Tuesday.

It's gettin' real in the Whole Foods parking lot.

(You can google that if you want, but I won't be responsible if the song gets stuck in your head.)

I have mixed emotions about this event.
Here they are-- I am excited to experience solitude once again. I feel bad that the kids went to school almost through the end of June in Spain and had the shortest summer ever. I'm overwhelmed thinking about trying to get our house put together this weekend while also wondering if I got all the school supplies they need and where I put their lunch-boxes.

So if it is another long while between posts, you can picture me unpacking boxes while making school lunches and avoiding areas with light at night.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Excuse the lack of posts around these parts, it's just that I was moving to 'Merica and eating all of the foods I've been missing has taken all of my time.

Here we are eating--

And eating out--

Look at the size of the drinks on the kids menus! Everything's bigger in America. Drink refills are my love language.

So is Carrabas.

So let us recap the past several weeks:

-We hung out in a hotel on Grand Vía for ten days before leaving Madrid. The kids had school, we had all sorts of appointments and things to do, and lots of goodbyes.

(sad face)

-The flights back to the States went relatively smoothly.
Except that it took us an hour to check in because the check in desk apparently had never met anyone traveling with excess baggage. I find it hard to actually believe that, but it would seem that it was everyone's first day on the job.

This is where we stood for an hour with all of our schtuff.

We were in everyone's way. The kids were bored and poking at each other. I became hangry.

It was not a great start to a long day of traveling.

Here we are in Paris waiting for the second flight.

Neither of our flights took off on time, and the one out of Paris sat at the gate without the engines running, so there was no air conditioning. It was hot. The guy across the aisle smelled bad. Every time he lifted up his arm, I died a little inside.
Who gets on a 9 hour flight without showering sometime in the recent past?

Thankfully once we were airborne it wasn't so noticable. Either than, or my nostrils shut down in self defense.

The plane had little screens in each seat-back and the kids happily watched one movie after the other for the whole trip. Win for the home team. I watched several myself.
I quite dislike long flights and jet lag, so unless the Air Force sends us overseas again, I don't see myself jumping on another one anytime soon. Or possibly ever.

Our adjustment here was actually not too bad. Derek is the king of overcoming jet lag, and slept through the nights local time right away, further proving himself to be the easiest child on the planet.
The rest of us woke up at 3 am local time for a couple of days before getting back on schedule.

Josh was able to stay in Michigan for almost 2 weeks before leaving this past Saturday for Alabama. In the end, he drove the van that we'd been storing here down to Montgomery. The kids and I will fly down later this month, leaving us as car-less moochers for the time being.

While he was here we were able to visit our brand new niece, Anna Joy, while she was just days old! Newborn snuggles are the sweetest :)

We stayed a few days in their town and got to visit with Pat the Bunny, Josh's brother Jason, his sister Jessica (the new mommy), her husband John, and my adorable nephew Caleb.

*Imagine a picture of said people. The actual picture is stored on a laptop in Alabama*

(I am the only non-J name among the siblings and have always been ridiculed and mocked as the black sheep. I sleep with one eye open.)

We came back to west Michigan, where both of my parents live, in time to celebrate the Fourth of July. We had a good 'old country holiday complete with bonfire, s'mores, barbecue, and near death experiences with fireworks.

My dad put on a show that might have been professional-- except for that one that turned sideways and headed toward the crowd.


The good news is we all still have all of our appendages and eyesight. Here's to tempting fate next summer!

Operation "country summer" is in full effect for the children.

They spend lots of time outside riding bikes (thanks Mimi and Mr Mark!), picking wild berries, "helping" in the garden, driving the tractor, catching fireflies, collecting bugs and frogs, and generally just getting dirty.
My mom lives far off the street and it's a perfect setting to be able to let them explore a bit on their own. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom would kick us out after breakfast and we only came in for meals or to beg for a Popsicle.

My dad lives about 10 minutes away, so after getting hot and dirty, we make an almost daily trip to his house to jump in the pool and hang out with Pepaw and Grandma Cindy in the early evening. Added bonus is that sometimes we count the pool as credit for taking a bath.

 Cousin Time! Our first week here, my sister and her family were over to visit. They live a couple hours away. My sister is in the middle of a condensed nursing course that takes all of her time, so my niece Kennedy is staying with us at my mom's house for the weeks that we're here. The girls have really enjoyed it!

Summer smells like sweat, sunscreen, and bug spray around here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Blog post

Hello out there in blog land! As per usual, the moving process leads me to fall off the face of the earth for a time as I am reminded of just how draining it can be.

Consider me reminded!

Moving week here in Madrid was complicated by an already full calendar of "life."
Did Life not get the message that we were moving? Apparently not, as parent-teacher conferences, doctor appointments, field trips, and dance recitals decided to plop themselves right down in the midst of the chaos.

Literally as the elevator truck removed furniture from the window of our piso, I was running out to watch what was possibly the world's longest dance recital. What timing! That left Josh to handle all the move stuff plus get our zillion pieces of luggage, booster seats, partridge, and pear tree from the piso to the hotel. It required a specialty taxi, as the normal ones couldn't handle that sized load.

I will bury this thought in the back of my mind and not consider its implications as to how we will get all of that, and all of us, checked in to our flight on Sunday morning.

Sunday-- so soon! Say it ain't so!

Also making things more interesting, my dearly beloved has spent Monday through today on a class trip to Poland. So it's been me and the kids for this week of school and Happy Meals.

Some thoughts:

- you tend to get weird looks from people in a hotel when they watch you take your kids out in the morning or bring them back in the afternoon wearing school uniforms. I understand; it's weird to me, too. Though it's the third time in their lives that we've been living in hotels and also still going to school so maybe it doesn't seem so weird to them.

- I love connecting rooms. Even better than a suite with one separate sleeping area, the connecting room situation provides double the bathroom equipment and separate televisions.

- the kids were shocked to hear English coming out of the television when they happened upon the BBC channel. They truly have been immersed in Spanish this past year and a half. Their conversations between themselves have become a curious mix of both languages. I still love hearing it.

- This morning we peered out of our 8th story windows to watch the new King of Spain drive down the street on the way to his coronation at the palace. What luck to be staying on the route.

- the hotel has a rooftop terrace with a lovely swimming pool-- we've been taking dips after school to get out of the room. The weather has been great!

- weds afternoon at pick up was tough for Alex. She had to say goodbye to a couple girls who were leaving early for summer vacation. I can only imagine what I will find at pick up tomorrow, our last school day here :(
I'm thinking of sending Josh, because when she cries I do, too.

- during the kids' doctors appts they did urine dip tests to fill out some paperwork for sports physicals. For reasons unknown* Derek's showed a trace amount of blood. This necessitated that over the next several days, I had to travel through the city carrying samples of morning pee in my purse. It was lovely.
Thankfully all were clear, and basically just contributed to more things on the to-do list.

*possibly his refusal to leave his penis alone for two seconds

- I love Madrid! Maybe because I knew it wasn't forever, the hard parts of city living rarely got to me. I suppose we're leaving at just the right time-- before the food got too old and the crowds became too much. Better to leave while you still love it, right?


Anyone? Bueller?


- hi family in michigan! See you soon! Dad, don't forget us at the airport. Jessie, have my niece soon. Mom, did I mention that it's 10 days in the hotel and we're not doing laundry here? Hasta pronto...

The next blog post should be coming at you from the States, with pictures from our last weeks here hopefully. Uploading photos is a bridge too far for hotel weefee.

*Excuse any typos and the weird "blog post" heading at the top, I typed this out on the iPad and had to wait until I was in the lobby to post. It's not letting me make changes for some reason. For all the glory of the rooftop pool, we're staying in one of the last wifi-in-the -room holdouts.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hodgle Podgle

This could be my penultimate Hodgepodge in Madrid. Or maybe the ultimate if I'm lazy while in the hotel. So, join in Hodgepodgelings!

1. I've read several posts and status updates recently describing end of year school field trips. Do you remember taking school field trips as a kid? Where did you go and do you recall a favorite? For any parents responding today, have you ever chaperoned a school field trip, and if so where?

I remember a zoo trip in second grade, my first overnight trip in 5th grade, and then starting in junior high we would go to Black Rock Retreat in Pennsylvania for three-night camps each year.

The most vivid memory I have of those trips is sitting in the back row of a big van going to Black Rock for the first time and a classmate next to me accidentally turned and elbowed me hard in the chest. I was just starting to grow my boobies and it hurt so bad I thought I was going to die.

I did not.

Aaaaaand you're welcome for that little memory gem.

Parent chaperones are unheard of here in Spain-- we asked and they looked at us as if we might be mentally impaired.
Then again, we asked in Spanish. Maybe we asked if we could take a shower in the bidet or something. Who knows?

 2. What's something you're tired of seeing online?

How long do you have?

The Facebook Braggarts: The hidden brag, the humble brag, the blatant brag. Just shut up already, nobody cares that Penelope is doing calculus in kindergarten. I've got you beat-- my kid can armpit fart in his sleep.

Everyone who is sure that All The Foods are killing them, based on extensive internet research.

Anything that starts with "Dear ______" which is not actually written to that person. That company is not your facebook friend. And that intro to a rant is so 2012.

People who you cannot disassociate with Their Cause, since they cannot go a day without a post about it. Thanks, Jane Doe, now you've made me hate breastfeeding. And I used to like it.

People who ask for advice by saying, for example, "Best Restaurant near Central Park, Go!" as if everyone in their internet circle is just sitting around dying to give them advice.

Comment sections on any article ever written.

I think I should stop before I get carried away...

3. June is the month for roses. Which of the following expressions would you say has most recently applied to your life-'everything's coming up roses', 'there's no rose without a thorn', 'came out smelling like a rose', or 'wearing rose-colored glasses'? 
There's no rose without a thorn-- We've had a great run here the last couple of years with incredible locations and experiences and the thorn is having to say goodbye.

 4. When grilling outdoors do you prefer gas or charcoal? Who does the grilling at your house? What's the last thing you ate that was cooked on a grill?
I guess gas, because it's faster. Josh usually does the grilling, but it's been a looooooong time. We don't have a grill here, and we didn't bother to fill the propane tank in California either. And he was in Afghanistan for the 6 months before California...

Looking forward to some grilling this summer!

 5. Are you afraid of the dark?

 6. Share a favorite song with a number in it's title.

February Seven by the Avett Brothers.

7. "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."(C.G. Jung). Do you agree? Why or why not?

When I think of everything that irritates me about others, I come to the understanding that I am very easily irritated.

Stop bothering me, world!

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Our super-sporty Corolla passed her inspection today and has been taken away to be sent across the Atlantic. She is quite the jet-setter. Her 13 years have seen a lot of the world. I know, because we had to clean all the thirteen years of dirt and grime off of her to send her back.

And by "we" I mean the people we hired to do it.

It was a relief to get that checked off the list, which now only has about 99 things on it.

I got 99 problems, but the car aint one. Maybe that should have been my song with a number.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Here we go again.

I've got a sad girlie on my hands, again.
The move is hitting home and I predict a difficult three weeks ahead of us.

She was wiping away tears on the walk from the bus to the school this morning, and again I'm at a loss as to how to make it better.

I've tried the reasonable responses to her questions--

"Why does Daddy have to have a job that moves so much?"
"Can't he just get a regular job? He could be a postman or a taxi driver."
"Why did we even bother making friends here anyway if we just have to say goodbye?"

I answered her questions, but she didn't really want to hear it.
Her sad heart was not interested in hearing about military regulations, visas and citizenship, or how our world gets bigger when we let other people into it.

Even as we walked past a man sleeping on the street, her brain could recognize that we should count our blessings, but her heart didn't want to hear about it. Not just then.

So I just said, "I know. It's really hard."

Their little Spanish school friends are not used to forever goodbyes, so it's been more of a topic of conversation at school. Alex is making rainbow loom goodbye gifts for her amigos.

Derek is also expressing how he wants to stay here, and will miss his friends. This is new territory for him, as he's been too young in the past to really have those feelings.

Derek's English teacher left to go on maternity leave, and so he's had a new teacher who happens to be an American. She asked him where he was from in American and he didn't know how to answer her. After school he asked me where he was from. Definitely a military kid! Even funnier is that I wasn't sure how to answer him! Idaho, N. Carolina, California...

I knew that moving would get harder on the kids as they got older, but I was really thinking more of the high school years-- not elementary school! Hopefully one day we can all look back on these experiences together and realize what a opportunity we've had to live life in so many places.

I'm guessing that wont be happening during the next three weeks. So I'll be doing lots of snuggling and sympathizing...or maybe looking into getting Josh a taxi license.


Here are a few more pictures, and I have no idea why they show up small, but I think if you click on them they will get bigger.
Or maybe they will disappear.
I wouldn't know.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May-in-Review Hodgepodge

It's the HodgePodge-- you know the drill.

1. What news story are you following right now?
Lots. Checking a couple of different news websites each morning is part of my daily routine.

I'm following the story of the Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to death for her Christian faith, and who just gave birth to her daughter in prison. Praying that international pressure will help her situation.

Also, I'm super frustrated with the case of American Saeed Abedini, the pastor who is being held and beaten in an Iranian prison for being a Christian. My heart goes out to his wife and two young children in Idaho.

I'm waiting to see what's going to happen with the U.S. Marine in custody in Mexico. I enjoy oversimplifying things, but I think it should go something like this:

"Hey, Mexico. We give you a lot of money. Give us this guy or we wont anymore."

 2. What's the last thing you wanted but didn't get?

An answer to this question.
3. May 28th is National Hamburger Day...when did you last have a hamburger? Other than your own kitchen or BBQ grill, where is your favorite place to go for a hamburger? And for all you non-meat eaters out there...when you're invited to a cookout what is the one side dish you hope is on the menu?

Spain can't do a good hamburger. And we lack a grill here. I am really looking forward to grilling out this summer and visiting some of my favorite restaurants in the States. Red Robin is a favorite with us, and they refill your fries. And now my mouth is watering.
Spanish food is good, but sometimes you just need the flavors of home, especially after a year and a half away.
4. How have your priorities changed over time?

I am in an ever-present struggle to keep an eternal perspective in a very temporal world. Some days I do better than others, but I want to make decisions and have reactions based on the question: "How important will this be on the day that I die?"

The list of things that don't really matter grows longer every day: Where I live, what kind of house I have, how fashionable are my clothes, what grades do my children bring home from school, how much money do we have, what kind of car do I drive...almost everything under the sun.

What's left is loving each other well, time spent together, enjoying our blessings, and a chance to try again tomorrow.

Parenting provides an immense number of opportunities to put this to the test. I assure you that before I was a mom, I was quite certain that my mad mom skillz would net me some super well-behaved children who were always polite and got along wonderfully.
I realized after a while that I was really just trying to get my kids to put on a show in front of other adults, and I wasn't really dealing with their heart issues. What a challenge it is to really and truly try to root out the natural selfishness that is deep inside all of us. We are daily in the trenches of this battle, because it is a priority.
Not that they appear as perfect angels, we lost that battle long ago, but that their hearts move toward love for others.

5. What's a favorite memory with your grandparents?

As a military kid, I didn't get to spend much time with my grandparents, so it was always a treat when they would come to visit. My "Nauny" would make up bedtime stories with characters with our names, give us 'slips' of her coffee, and generally we would just laugh a lot together.
We also made many a trip to Michigan to visit all of the grandparents and I always remember that being fun, and getting spoiled.

 6. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being fantastic!), how good are you at multitasking? Share an example.

0. I just can't do it. I even have to go into a separate room when I talk on the phone, because my mind can't keep up with a conversation when anything else is going on around me.

 7. How would you summarize your highs and lows for the month of May?

Like a roller coaster. May is our last full month living in Madrid, and in addition to feeling the weight of an impending move, we also had lots of events on the calendar.
Josh and Alex went to Paris, they both had birthdays, Alex had her class trip, I was teaching Sunday school for the month, Josh has been plugging away at all the time-consuming details of getting us from Point A to Point C, with a long layover in Point B.

So we've been happy, busy, sad, and frustrated by turn.
Así es la vida.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

We're moving over to the hotel in 2 weeks and 1 day. The hotel has a gorgeous roof-top pool, and it dawned on me that I will be required to don a bathing suit.

For the benefit of those who will be around me, I thought maybe I should try to tighten up the middle section a bit.
After all, I have not set foot in a gym since I lived in California. Which happened to be the year of our Lord two thousand and twelve.

Now, I don't plan to go crazy, I just thought maybe I should take a few minutes each day and do some crunches and maybe some pushups for the 'ol bingo wings.

I started on Monday.
I woke up on Tuesday morning at 4:30 thinking that I should have started a little slower. I am so out of shape!

This is what life in Spain will do to you ;)

But I still recommend it highly.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Stuff and Nonsense

I must begin by telling you that despite my worst fears and what I felt were significant odds, my daughter made it back from her class trip! And with all of her stuff, too!

She was full of stories about how they were allowed to stay up until 11pm each night, and that at lunch they could have unlimited Coca Cola, and at dinner unlimited Fanta.

I am certain this made the teachers' days much more...lively.

There was bed jumping and pillow fighting, hiking, kayaking, archery, museum visits, and she also judiciously used her spending money to buy...candy.

She took lots of pictures, to include the square-seat on the toilet, the television in her room, the bathroom sink, and stray cats.
She reported that she had so much fun that it felt like she was only gone for one day and no nights.

I'm happy to have my whole family back under the same roof, even if that makes the space a little noisier.

Moving on.

The countdown is at 28 Days. Twenty-eight. Ventiocho.

This is painful. It's like pulling a Band-Aid off slowly.

A super-sticky generic brand bandage.
On a hairy part.

Today we walked around the touristy area of town to pick out our Madrid magnet. We like to collect magnets from the places we visit or live. Because it's the cheapest thing to collect and when you're in the habit of moving about the country and/or world, it's best not to collect expensive breakables.

I was too busy thinking about how much I'm going to miss the city to enjoy it. And Retiro was its usual haven of green-ness and great people watching. The temps dipped back down into the high 60s-70s this past week and I'm happy to enjoy a little more spring before the heat hits.

Don't worry, I'll move past my depressive state soon enough. And certainly there are things I miss about "home" that I'm looking forward to this coming year. Mostly food related.

Today was the last Sunday in May, and so my last time teaching the children's class. I would tell you I'm sad about that, but I try to keep it real around here.

Ha. I kid.
Kind of.

Let's just say that if working with groups of children was my calling in life, I'd probably do best if the group could all speak that same language. Also, if the children would maybe listen. That would be cool, too.

We'll chalk it up to a learning adventure and further evidence that I did not miss my calling to be a teacher.

In other news, we got our photos back from our rainy-day photo shoot.
I am not photogenic.
The temperature dropped suddenly and we had to change the plan for our supposed-to-be coordinated outfits at the last minute.

Also, it's a good thing we stopped at 2 kids, because I'm not sure how bigger families manage to get any pictures in which everyone is looking at the camera and doesn't have crazy eyes.

All that being said, it's about the memories not about perfection. Right?


This is one of the last shots we took, and if you look in the water behind us you can see the raindrops.
This is the side of the Palacio Real.

I will drag out the photo reveal by adding a new one every post, until such a time as I don't like any more pictures of me.
I will, however, throw a stoned-looking Josh under the bus if I look good.

Heh Heh.

Look at these little boogers!

I have no idea why it let me make the top photo bigger but not this one. Technology also is not my calling.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Home through the years

Well hello there, interworld.

The Emotions. They are all running amok today. I accidentally glanced at my calendar, which is a terrible thing to do when you're in love with the city you're living in, but you can't keep living in it much longer.

I was already in a fragile state, because my little girl's bedroom was empty this morning and although she is a bear in the mornings, it's still so very strange not to have her here.

Alex left yesterday on her class trip to Cazorla, Spain which is a whole 4 hour drive away. We received a text letting us know they had arrived safely, which allowed me to cross off one thing on my prayer list-- leaving only a hundred more.

Some more important than others, as I'm not sure "Please God, give her the wisdom to remember to take showers" is a big-picture concern.

I did not have a whole lot of time yesterday to dwell on her being away, because it was "International Night" at Josh's school and I was running around all day preparing my chili and rice krispie balls* and all of the other little things that were required to help the evening go as planned.

*The Spaniards didn't know they were supposed to be square, so no one was the wiser that I can't even make rice krispie treats look the right way. Win for the home team.

I slipped out of the event around 9:00 to get Derek home and to bed, and imagine my dismay when I pulled out my phone on the bus home and saw that I had missed three calls. THREE. From the same number, which I recognized as a number from the kids' school.

I may have panicked a little bit, until I heard the message. Apparently the school has each child call home to check in.
I felt so bad that I had missed the calls, but it was so loud in the room for the international night that I just didn't hear the phone ringing.

Her voice sounded so little and sweet. Because she's far away.
At home it sounds sassy.

And it was her birthday, and I didn't get to say Happy Birthday one more time!

Fast forward, I gave Derek a fast bath, put him to bed, and settled in on the couch to relax.
Then my phone rang again at 10:30-- It was Alex! Apparently they just keep on trying until they get through.

I asked her why she wasn't in bed, and she answered that they didn't have to go to bed until 10 o'clock which for obvious reasons made no sense. But judging from the noise in the background, it didn't sound like any rules were being enforced.

We spoke just briefly, but it made this mama's heart happy to know that she was safe and having fun and excited to go have a pillow fight.
And I got to say Happy Birthday one more time.

In honor of Alex's 9th Birthday, I shall present you now with a themed photo montage of:
The Many Houses of Alex.

Like many military children, my girlie has been uprooted and transplanted often.

We brought her home from the hospital to this base house at Sheppard AFB, in Wichita Falls, Texas. We had just moved into the house that month, because I enjoy doing exhausting things while very pregnant.

She celebrated her first birthday here, and was a Texan for about a year and a half before our first move.

Our next stop was for Josh's training in the F-15E, at Seymore-Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, North Carolina. We lived in base housing again. We had only one afternoon of snow that winter, but we took advantage of it. Alex turned two in this house.


We left North Carolina for Idaho with our little guy tagging along en utero. We moved into our Idaho house with two weeks to spare before he made his arrival. This is the location that Alex has spent the most time, celebrating her 3rd, 4th, and we just squeezed in her 5th birthday as well before leaving. She attended pre-school here.

Then, because we like to drive cross-country as often as possible, we went back to Goldsboro, North Carolina. This time we rented a house off-base and enjoyed our time in the Maple'hood. Alex had her 6th birthday in this house. Well, technically in Disney World, but this was our house at the time. She went to Kindergarten here, and then we homeschooled first grade.

A little under 2 years later, we were off for our favorite state-side location: Monterey, California. Happy days here! Alex had her 7th birthday and attended a half-year of second grade.

Which bring us to house number 6 for her-- an apartment in Madrid, Spain. Alex has now had her 8th and 9th birthdays here. She attended half of second grade, and will have completed third grade by the time we leave.

Dear Alex,

I can't believe how quickly you're growing, and all the places you've been in your short life! I just want you to know that Daddy and I are so proud of you and how you've handled these frequent changes. I know that it's getting harder and harder to leave friends behind. I wish there was a way for us to make that part easier. It's hard for us, too.
Alex, I know that you didn't want to come to Spain. You didn't want to learn another language. You were scared to go to school here and we shared lots of tears in the first few months. Baby, look at you now! I hope you are as proud of yourself as we are of you. You stuck it out! And now you speak fluently in another language, you've made friends, and you've experienced things most people never have the chance to do.
We'll have your 10th birthday in Alabama, and your 11th somewhere else. But no matter where we are, you'll be "home" for your birthdays because home is family, not a place.

We love you more than you can know, and pray that God will bless you as you grow!
Love, Mama

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hokey Pokey

You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...

I feel like I'm living the hokey pokey these days. We leave Madrid in 6 weeks to fly back to the U.S. and we're at that point in the preparations in which it is impossible to be completely present here.

We're living in the familiar limbo of the "pre-move" that doesn't allow us to belong to any one place. We're in Spain, the kids are in school, Josh is at work, I am...on the couch.

And yet our thoughts and plans and calendar are divided between here, Michigan, and Alabama.
I'm signing permission slips for Alex's class trip here, filling out registration forms for the summer day camp the kids will attend in Michigan, and printing off sports physical forms so Derek can play fall soccer in Alabama.

I've had friends mention before how lucky we are that when we change locations, the military "moves us." And they are right, to a great extent. The movers will show up and put all our things in boxes, and then take those boxes away. The heavy lifting is cared for by someone else.

The prep is another story. We will have lists upon lists and carefully separated piles will appear throughout the house. But even that is simple enough.
Keep= Everything we need to live for the next couple of months + suitcases+ car booster seats
Send in early shipment= Enough pillows/linens/kitchen necessities to "camp out" in an empty house
Regular shipment=Everything else minus the European electrical items we're passing along to the next family.

And then comes the easier-to-forget things:
- pick up dental records
- re-register the expired license plates on the van sitting in Michigan
- plan our 'summer school'-- Derek doesn't know how to spell in English!
- get physicals for the kids now, because by the time we get to Alabama we wont have time to wait for an appointment before the sports season starts
- fill any prescriptions that will expire while we're in between locations-- like Derek's epi-pen

We're looking at our flights out and realizing that we might need to change things-- the connections are tight, Josh might now be the one driving the van down to Alabama, the kids and I need new dates on the last leg of the trip.
We're talking in circles with the housing office in Montgomery about a move-in date, the time change means phone-tag, Skype will drop a call at the least opportune moment.

We'll need new cell phones once we arrive in the States. If you've met my husband you know this will require more than a simple trip to the store. Josh's boss from Germany is flying in on Tuesday, we're meeting for dinner, we don't have a sitter. I'm teaching Sunday school this month. We have to make the engine, interior, trunk, and spare tire on our 13 year old vehicle look, and I quote, "like a brand new vehicle" in preparation for shipment. Alex has a birthday next week-- buy a cake mix.

Do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around...

If you need me, I'll be making lists.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beep Beep

We live on a busy street. During traffic hour in the evenings, there is plenty of noise outside and it just so happens to be windows-open season around here.

Madrileños use their horns with reckless abandon, and it's completely normal to double park and then when the blocked-in people need to move, they just sit in their car and hold the horn down until someone runs out to move the double-parked vehicle.
There are sirens, motorcycles revving their engines, dogs barking, and general city life.

There. Now I have set the scene.

A little bit ago I was sitting here on my couch, because it's what I do, and after a few minutes I registered an annoying beeping noise, and then immediately disregarded it. It's traffic hour.
Must be a delivery truck backing up.

10 minutes later I'm thinking that someone really stinks at backing up, but who am I to judge since I have to give myself a pep talk to even drive forward in the city.

5 minutes later I realize that all of my neighbors probably hate me, because it was time to flip the pork tenderloin. Oven alarm.

I didn't recognize the sound since it so rarely used.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Our world travelers returned from France having accomplished all of their goals-- the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, boat rides on the river Seine, other stuff I can't remember, crepes, ice cream, and croissants.

PTB sent Alex some birthday money a little early so that she could take it to Paris for souvenirs, or as I like to call it, junk.

What is it about kids that they just want to collect stuff and leave it out all over their rooms and drive me crazy? I can't even throw away the cardboard roll at the center of paper towel-- every last one is needed for some special craft that I will never be able to throw away.

I learned my lesson the hard way. They saw something they made in the trash and the guilt trip was unreal. Big tears and "I worked really hard on that" and all that jazz.

 Now I follow this three part plan:

1) Purge "Crafts" when the children are not home.
2) Put said handiwork into a trashbag, and hide that bag in the house for 5 days.
3) If no one has noticed the missing items after 5 days, dispose of the trashbag outside of the house. OUTSIDE is key.

That way, if they return home from school and immediately notice the absence of that painted paper towel cardboard roll rocketship* then you can get it back out and mention that you'd needed to admire it up close in your room for a bit.

*term used loosely

Where was I? Oh yes, Alex adding to her collection of stuff.
She returned with a pair of rather large dangly Eiffel Tower earrings, a free standing Eiffel Tower model, an Eiffel Tower key chain, and a t-shirt of-- you guessed it-- the Eiffel Tower.

The t-shirt isn't actually that bad.

Josh emailed me a photo while in Paris of Alex showing off her new earrings.
Later, he emailed me a photo of Alex showing off her new t-shirt.

In both photos it looked as if Josh was neglecting to remind Alex that I had indeed packed a hairbrush.
It made me smile a little, because it's such a typical Dad-on-his-own-with-daughter thing.

I love that they made that trip together, that Alex will have those special memories of having gone to Paris with just her and Daddy, and that I married a man who loves to invest time in his children.

He planned everything with her in mind-- which museums he thought she'd like the most, using a waterboat for transportation, taking her to a light-show one night, even taking along a museum scavenger hunt to make it more fun for her.

I got a good one!

Selfie at the top of the tower

Fact: We have not finished looking at all of their pictures from the trip, but I just scrolled through quickly to find some for this post.

So I have no idea what exactly this is supposed to be representing, but I am not surprised that they decided to take a picture...and you're probably not surprised that I posted it.

Meanwhile, Derek and I took advantage of our time together and the wonderful weather to have a picnic in the park, watch the Lego movie, head to the mountains with some friends, and snuggle on the couch.

Oh, and he made a bunch of crafts.
I'm off to put them in a bag...

Monday, April 28, 2014

In which looking at my calendar freaks me out

Stuff is gettin' real here, folks.

Too real.

Our time in Madrid is dwindling rapidly, and the time we do have left is filling in with all sorts of goings-on.

Fact: I like my calendar empty.
Fact: It is not empty anymore.

I shall bore you with the details:

So, we just recently got back from London, which deserves it's own blogpost, and will certainly get it. Hopefully within the year.

We'd had family photos scheduled for a few days after we returned, but we had to reschedule because the forecast called for rain all day. So we rescheduled for this past Saturday.

The kids were back to school for a shortened week following Spring Break, and Alex had a birthday party on Friday night.
The kids went to see Rio 2 in the theater followed by dinner and cake at a nearby Burger King.
Being the lame mother that I am, I made Alex say her goodbyes after the movie and we skipped the other festivities because the movie got over at 9:30. And while even the youngest of Spaniards are primed for dinner then, this old American needed to get her beauty sleep because we were having our photos done the next day.
The good news is that there was a forecast for a rain-free day.

But as we all know, forecasts can be wrong.
And it was.
It drizzled all over our picture taking outing. (It was another Photo-Tour in the city, so taking it inside wasn't really an option.)
But it was a really good deal on Groupon, so we didn't spend much and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we got a few good shots of the family despite the drips.

This week ends in the Madrid holiday "El Puente de Mayo" which means there is no school on Thursday or Friday.
Josh and Alex leave for the daddy-daughter Paris excursion on Wednesday afternoon, so it will be me and my little buddy on our own for the free days.

Once the adventurers return, we have two weeks of normal before Alex leaves on her class trip. That will be followed up by two final weeks of normal, before the movers come.
We'll move into a hotel for our last 10 days in Madrid, and then someone will have to physically drag me onto the airplane.

Somewhere in those weeks are a "International Night" at Josh's school in which I have to bring typical American food to share, and a class trip for Josh to Poland.

Someone did not get the memo that I hate cooking, and also socializing. Do Rice Krispie Treats seem American enough? ;)

Once I'm onboard the plane, I will attempt to be positive. There are, of course, lots of things to look forward to about returning to America.
They include, but are not limited to:

- Seeing our family. Pat the Bunny was the only one able to make it over for a visit, so it will have been a full year and a half since we've seen everyone else.
- A new niece! Josh's sister will be having her baby girl right around the time we arrive to Michigan, so I will get some newborn snuggles. They are totally the best when you're not the one getting up at night.
- Free drink refills.
- American food, and I don't mean Rice Krispie Treats.
- Blueberry season in Michigan (The kids and I are going to stay for a bit to visit while we wait for our household goods to arrive to Alabama)
-Being able to communicate easily.
- Friends for neighbors!!

Our friends, the Putmans, are going to be in the same course as Josh. They already live on base in Alabama and were able to sweet talk the housing office into getting us the house next door. How cool is that?!

It totally makes it worth it that we're trading in an incredible 2000+ square foot, 4 bedroom/5 bathroom apartment in the best part of Madrid, with lofted ceilings and balconies over Calle Velázquez, for a 3 bed/2 bath, < 1500 sq feet ghetto house that could easily make a "worst base housing the Air Force has to offer" list.

If you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to have to go cry now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I was going to try to catch up a little on all of the happenings that have been happening, but it's Wednesday so instead I'll hodgepodge.

You know the drill-- hop over to Joyce's blog to join in!
Or don't!
But don't say you weren't invited!
Or do!
But you'll be lying!

1. April 22nd is Earth Day. Are you inspired by nature? In what way?
I'm not sure if nature inspires me to do* anything, per se, but I'm definitely amazed by nature, more so now than when I was younger. Seeing the world come to life again each spring, and the beautiful way the leaves turn colors and fall in autumn testifies to the Creator-- the order, the beauty. Sometimes it's too much to take in.

*Fact: There is very little that inspires me to do anything. Unless it is sitting on the couch.

2. Down to earth, four corners of the earth, move heaven and earth, not have an earthly chance, or salt of the earth...which earthly idiom have you most recently encountered? Explain.

 Hmm. I think I'll choose "move heaven and earth" since we are exactly two months away from getting on an airplane and moving away.

Sniffle Sniffle.


Full on ugly-cry.

Temper tantrum.

You can't make me, Air Force! I don't wanna! You're not the boss of me!

(Except yes, they can. It don't matter. And they kind of sort of are.)

3. Share one piece of advice you might give a newly engaged couple.


Ha. I kid. I jest.

Kind of.

Weddings are nice, but they only last a few hours, so I will give a piece of advice for marriage instead. 

Have a lot of sex, they say it's a good workout.

Okay, okay. I'll be serious now:
Have a lot of sex.

Not because it's a good workout, but because when you're connecting physically, it makes it hard to disconnect mentally/emotionally/communicatively (Inventing Words 101).
And with our internet world in which we're in constant communication with everyone else, sometimes it's hard to stay in touch with the person sitting on the other end of the couch.
So put down the computer and the phone, and get busy.


4. When did you last engage someone to perform a job, task, service, home repair, or improvement? On a scale of 1-10 (ten being the best) how would you rate their work and/or your satisfaction with the job or service provided?

We had our sprinklers turned on and adjusted on That House in Idaho. I assume they did the job, because we got the bill. Consider me satisfied. (Insert funny reference to answer #3)

5. When did you last find yourself engaged in small talk? Are you awkward or an expert or somewhere in between?

I chat with the other moms at pickup time after school most afternoons. It's a good opportunity to practice my Spanish and it's been the way I've made a few friends here in Madrid. There is a very high probability that I am awkward and just don't know it, because once I start rattling off, even I don't know what I'm saying.
I'm guessing there's a 75% chance that at some point this past year, I've nodded and smiled when someone told me that they had a death in the family.

Life in another language is complicated. 

6.  What was the last historic place you visited?

We happen to have just returned from a trip to London. We saw all sorts of historical schtuff.
I did not succeed in my mission to locate Prince George and squeeze his cheeks.

7. The world would be a better place if we just__________________________.

 Went back to that time in history where the chubby women were considered the hot ones.

Come on! Art museums are full of paintings of women with actual hips and muffin tops. Why not now?


8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Last year we didn't let Alex go on her end of year class trip, because she'd only had a few months in school and we didn't think she was ready, language-wise, for an extended (4-night!) trip away from us.
Also, who does that in second grade?!

But we told her that this year she could go.

And so my first baby is going to leave me behind for 5 days and 4 nights, starting on her birthday, no less.

And I was going to spend a lot of time being upset about that, until I saw the price tag and found something else to be upset about.

Also, Derek's class has an end of year trip as well but if you think for a hot second that I'm sending my tiny infant baby boy away for two nights with people who may or may not adequately understand the equation of Peanuts=Death, then you would be wrong. WRONG. He is a baby. BABY.
Who would tuckle him in? Who would snuggle him awake?

Not gonna happen.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Pictures

I've got loads to catch up on bloggy-wise, but until the monstrosities head back to school on Tuesday, these pictures from our afternoon walk through Retiro will have to do.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In which a giant flying demon empties its colon...on me.

Let's have a story, shall we?

Last weekend was quite lovely indeed, with beautiful spring weather. We had a friend in town staying with us, and we all went to nearby Toledo on Saturday because we like to.

Toledo is quite nice.

We ate more mazepan. This brick lasted about 7 minutes.

On Sunday, we got up early to attend the first service at church because I've been wanting to go to Madrid's big flea market and we needed to get back home quicker.
We were thwarted in our effort to attend church by a pesky little half-marathon that boxed us in to our neighborhood, so we abandoned our plans and just left earlier for El Rastro, the flea market.

It's known to have pickpockets who target tourists, so I made sure to only carry a few euro in my purse, I left my phone at home, and made sure Josh had the keys and money secured in his front pants pocket.

Our delightful children bemoaned their fate of having to shop at an "outside junk store." In their defense, it was incredibly crowded, and from their height they mostly had views of other peoples bottoms. Eventually, when they self-proclaimed to be on death's doorstep from starvation, we decided to split up-- I would take the kids home for lunch and a rest, and Josh and Frances would go find a spot for a lunch out.

Josh walked us to a metro station, and we said our goodbyes. Three minutes later, I realize that I failed to get the housekeys from my dearly beloved.
We raced back out of the metro station, but to no avail. We didn't know what direction he'd gone in, so we were on our own, keyless and phoneless. And hungry. With only the 5 euro that I had in my purse.

So we decided to turn it into an adventure and see how we could live off the land* with 5 euro until such a time as Josh would return to the house. We decided to stay close to home so we could check in at the apartment from time to time in case he realized that we were keyless.

*term used loosely

So we took the metro back to our normal stop, and headed to the nearby market. After all, when you're trying to feed 3 people with 5 euro, you're not going to go to a restaurant.
We bought a package of sandwiches, and a bag of potato chips. Alex voted no to a bottle of water, saying we could get that for free from a park fountain.
The kids were all about our grand adventure at this point.

We took our food over to Retiro and dined on a bench, one sandwich per child, each paying their tax of one bite each for mama. We ate chips. We drank free fountain water.

The astute reader will notice that Alex is wearing the same thing two days in a row.
That's a thing we do.

Also, in trying not to wake our guest on Sunday morning and having forgotten to remove clothes from Alex's room, it was my only option.

Fact: It's more pleasant to be locked out in beautiful weather.

Fact: It's also quite pleasant to be locked out with that guy. Because he's usually almost always most of the time quite pleased with life.

After finishing our food, we counted our remaining money-- not enough for 2 popsicles from the park vendor. But it might be enough for popsicles from the market.
So we walked back by the piso, verifying that Josh was indeed not home yet, and then back to the market. We had just enough to cover a box of 6 popsicles.
We made our way to a nearby bench and began to enjoy the treat.

I sat next to Alex, with the popsicle box between us, and Derek to the right of Alex.

I realize the picture makes me look like a liar.
You know how most sharks have to keep swimming in their sleep to stay alive? Derek's like that. If he's not moving constantly, he will die. 

Just when we were discussing how fun it is to be locked out when you have enough money for popsicles, out of nowhere somebody threw something at me.

Mud? Vomit?

I didn't know, but it came at me with such force that I looked about to determine from whence the assault had come.

I may also have said some naughty words.

But there was no one about.
I began to piece it all together.
There, on the popsicle box, was a bunch of bird crap. Bird crap that landed with such force that it exploded outward and covered my neck and chest.
And my popsicle.
And Alex's popsicle.
And Alex's hand that was holding her popsicle.

Derek was unscathed.

The sheer quantity and quality of the load of crap led me to believe that this must have been the rare flying ostrich-hawk-eagle-vulture-elephant-bird hybrid of Madrid. And I think he'd had Mexican food the night before.
And possibly a recent enema.

The fun was over. I was locked out of my house, covered in bird crap. I began wiping the nasty stuff off using leaves ripped from a bush while muttering phrases that I shouldn't repeat.

I collected my wits, made Derek throw away his popsicle as well just in case, took our three clean popsicles from inside the poop-box, and walked back to the park.

If you think the walk of shame is what happens on college campuses, you've never walked 2 city blocks covered in vomit-like bird feces and have people look at you as if you don't realize you've been bathed in caca.

We went directly to a fountain that I practically took a bath in to rid myself of the poo.
We ate our popsicles, we went home, Josh arrived 2 minutes later.

I took a shower.

The end.

I hate birds.

Friday, April 4, 2014

In which I share many unimportant thoughts.

In list format.

1) Checking Derek's pockets before doing laundry gives me the heeby-geebies.

2) The Madrid equivalent of a US dollar store is referred to as a "chino." I don't think the intent is to be racist-- I was told that there is some type of special tax implication between Spain and China that allows the Chinese to operate these shops cheaper. Therefore the products are less expensive and also of dollar-store quality.

3a) The Rainbow Loom epidemic took its time arriving to Spain, but now it is here and no one does a fad like Spanish children. The kids have bought the gomas (rubber bands) from the chinos. However, they are mostly sold with just a bag of rubber band and a half-sized weaving instrument-- no loom included. So the kids use markers, pencils, and even forks to create their bracelets. However, as any good looming parent knows, the more complicated bracelets and charms require a loom.

3b)My sister sent Alex a loom for Christmas, and so my children were totally the cat's meow this week because we had made snakes on the loom. I tried to make a 'Snakes on a Train' joke on the metro, but they didn't understand the reference. Now Alex has started a "store" in which her friends count out the right amount of gomas, send them home with Alex, and she makes them a snake. I don't think she really understands the concept of a store, because there is nothing in it for the loom owner/operator, but she's having a swell time so who am I to interfere?

4) Yesterday I bought (from a chino) a couple of plastic storage containers with separators. Alex's for her rainbow loom bands, and Derek's for his special Lego pieces that are always impossible to find in the bottom of the tub. I anticipate hours of separating fun this weekend. Win-Win.

5) We have our plane tickets now for leaving Spain, which makes it seem very real. I would like to give them back because I don't want to think about leaving yet.

6) We're going to London in a week and a half.

7) Josh, the responsible one, spent some time the other evening backing up old photo CD's onto our external hard drive. I have never wished more for a time machine so that I could go back and tell earlier Erin these things.
-No. No, you cannot wear that.
-No, you cannot eat that because you are the largest pregnant woman known to mankind.
-No, do not allow anyone to take your picture during that(those) month(s).
-Also, get a haircut.
-Not that haircut!
-Maybe just a little eyebrow tweezing is in order.

8) It's taking every ounce of self control I have to not delete photos from the external hard drive.

9) I'm really going to miss my maid when I go back to the real world.

10) I have to go now because I am hungry.

Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm boring.

I started a blog post on Saturday but didn't finish it. So pretend it's the middle of Saturday while you read this...

We are having a lovely Saturday thus far, despite the rainy day outside. Or maybe because of it. If it were nice and sunny I might feel guilty about not having showered by 1:30 in the afternoon. And now that I think of it, not having brushed my teeth.

I'll be right back.

Where were we?

This past week I have taken laziness to new heights, or depths, if you will. I had a birthday, and Josh spoiled me all week by picking up the kids after school despite the fact that other than dropping them off in the morning, I did absolutely nothing of importance with my days.
I logged a ton of couch hours. If couching could be likened to running, I'd be the ultra-marathon coucher.

Next week I shall change my lackadaisical ways and become a semi-productive member of society. I can't go all the way from non-productive to completely-productive, hence the "semi." Baby steps.

We received our orders, which is the paperwork that makes our upcoming move official, and allows us* to schedule movers, book flights, and other such stuff and nonsense.


I don't have a crazy amount of things to do in preparation. Much less thought involved than when we were moving over here to the great unknown. I usually like to get rid of some items that we don't need anymore because it's easier to do that on the front side of a move, than when you're trying to find all of your household items a place to live in the next house.
Today we* dropped off several bags of clothes that the kids had outgrown, Derek's carseat (did you know that if a tiny infant baby gets tall enough, he can sit in a booster?!?), and Alex's bike that she got too tall for. Our church has a ministry that gives the items to folks who can use them, so it's nice to be able to pass things along, and get them the heck out of my house.


One of my jobs is to find a hotel for us to stay in after the movers come and take away our worldly goods. We will probably be in a hotel for about a week and a half before we fly out of Spain. I'm on the hunt for a hotel with a pool, close to the kids' school, with breakfast buffet, and weefee. I spelled that out so you would pronounce it the Spanish way. No Why-Fye, Weeeeeefeeeeeee.

I will eventually have to shower today, because Derek has a birthday party to attend this afternoon, and I always sneak along in the shadows with one hand on his epi-pen. The kids are riding the teleférico to the top of the park, where there's an indoor play area.


Now it's Monday. No wonder I stopped that last post-- bo-ring.
Yawn fest.

Aaaaaaand Monday shall be the same.

Josh is in the other room talking to the computer screen as he watches the season finale of The Walking Dead. I never got into that show. It makes me hungry.

I've been getting rained on a lot lately. Spring showers and what not. The skies opened up on us as the kids and I were leaving school this afternoon. We had to strip off shoes and socks and tights as we came in the door because we were soaked.
Fun times.

We had porken for dinner. It's what we call a specific package of thinly sliced meat whose name we could not decipher back in the early days. It was definitely from either a pig or chicken, hence the term porken, and the name stuck once we finally figured out it is indeed pig-derived.
Apparently now that we're able to identify our meats, it means it's time to return to the U.S.

Also, I apologize for all of the eye-rolling that I did to facebook complainers about setting the clocks ahead for daylight savings. Because we just did it this weekend and I'm still recovering. Trying to get the kids in bed when the sky is still blue feels wrong. But not as wrong as how dark it is now when we get out of bed. Of course, nothing ever feels as wrong to me as getting out of bed.

Speaking of bed, ours has been making some weird spring noises. (Get your mind out of the gutters, folks, I'm talking about unprovoked spring noises.)
Maybe our lucky 13th anniversary gift to ourselves will be a new mattress.

Wow. I really could not have made this more boring if I tried.
My apologies, only I'm even more firmly entrenched in middle age now, and I fear my funny has left.

Friday, March 21, 2014



I was uploading photos to the blog (that you've already seen if you're my facebook friend. Which, face it ((pun intended)), everyone should be. As long as you don't post pictures of normal food like grilled cheese, or constantly talk about how terrible your life is, or leave vague comments that scream *desperately seeking attention*) but they got all out of order (the photos, sheesh! Keep up!) and now I'm just going to give you whiplash talking about them.

So there.

On Saturday past, we had an open house for Alex's class. There are three third grade classes, and the suckers in one group had to be there at 9. We got noon.


#truth= I don't understand the # crap. So when I use it, know that I'm mostly making fun of other people. And myself for not being #saavy

Here, in our random gallery of photos, is a shot of the staircase in the kids' school. Note, this staircase only takes you from the level of the front entrance and upward. There is yet another huge staircase that will take you down from the entry level.

This is how they make city schools work when you can't spread out. They don't have a playground either, but have several patios, one on the roof, that the kids can play in and get fresh air and sun. Or rain, perhaps. Possibly bird poo.

After the open house, we hopped on a bus to a plaza we hadn't seen yet. Found a little park, and a pretty tree. Spring, holla!

This was on the way to the open house. See how out of order we are?
Just waiting for the metro.

Back to the plaza, we found 2 of Derek's towers. You see, he had a field trip last year in which he rode around town on a bus checking off different types of architecture. Ever since then, all of the towers in the city are technically his.

After the open house, but before the plaza we had palmeras and torrija in the Uvepan around the corner from the school. Palmeras are the pastry the kids are eating-- they come plain or with white or regular chocolate. Torrija is only available in the spring, and Josh enjoys it. So we got it.

Back to the school.
The kids demonstrated their math skillz with their numerators. Whatever that is.
Don Fran teaches math and lengua (Spanish), and wears a suit every day.

ps the boy on Alex's right is José Luis de la Fuente Martínez.

We popped into Derek's classroom for a picture.
This is where all the magic happens.

Which is also what I say when I give people a tour of our house and we get to the master bedroom.

Beer Bike. You can rent this puppy and take it for a ride up Castellano and back down Serrano.
It seems...dangerous. Not only are it's riders getting toasted along the way and have nothing to actually keep them on the seats, but the busses and cabs don't care a lick and drive past them at full speed.

Where do I sign up?

Wait. I forgot that I don't like beer.

The city has a myriad of little parks in the medians of big streets.

And that was our #Saturday. On Sunday we drove a couple of hours to a town called Cuenca. It was another beautiful day, and will have to wait for another beautiful post.

Yes, my posts are beautiful.