Thursday, January 30, 2014


So it's time to come clean. I've hidden a lot of things from the interworld. Like the fact that I've had a housekeeper for the last year but kept it under wraps because it's totally unjustifiable given my current quantity of free time.

You may also recall that I reluctantly came out as a Twihard when I picked up the books about 5 years after it was cool to enjoy them, and also about 15 years past the age of the target audience.

(I recently acquired them in Castellano *gratis* so the next time I get the urge for some teenage angst I can also be improving my Spanish.)

((gratis means free))

(((there's a free bookstore in Madrid. I love it and am building a small Spanish library for when we leave here)))

And now I shall confess that I enjoy the movie Pitch Perfect more than any married mother of two should. I may have watched it once or five times. I may sing along. I may be thrilled that they're discussing the sequel.

I also may love Anna Kendrick, who not only stars in Pitch Perfect, but was also in the Twilight movies. She's funny. And she acts and sings.
I feel we have a lot in common, because although I don't have any actual talent, I do consider myself to be a trifecta of awesomeness.

1) I can do handstands and play 4 songs on the ukulele (These each only count as half a point of coolness, so I had to put them together.)
2) I speak a passable level of Spanish with which I can exist in Spain without being laughed at on a regular basis*  (*All rights reserved to determine the definition of regular basis.)
3) I frequently have relaciones sexuales with a hot fighter pilot.

This one, in particular.

(The one standing up, the other one belongs to my friend.)

Take that super cute and talented Anna Kendrick.

Well, I suppose she wouldn't have much trouble accomplishing one of the things on my list if she really wanted to.

I mean, I know a lot of fighter pilots. I'm sure one of them speaks Spanish and could tutor her.

So there you have it. If you'd like to recommend a book or movie to me, just ask the nearest 16 year old for a suggestion and then pass it along.

And if you're feeling as if your inner teenager needs some attention, watch Pitch Perfect.
Except don't watch it with your children. I can't be responsible for that.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I checked the mail, and the Hodgepodge

So after my riveting last post regarding the mail-checking process of US military personnel stationed in Madrid, Spain who are not posted at the ODC or NATO affiliated base, which is currently applicable to 2 people in the world *pause for breath* I'm certain you were all waiting to see what happened.

This is what happened-- After proofreading my post the thought of actually going through with all of those boring steps bored me and I didn't go.

But I did go the following morning and I am pleased to report that I had THREE packages waiting for me. Woohoo! I hit the mother lode and was then unable to do any shopping at the little store in the basement of the Embassy because I had no more free hands.

Since it's obvious I'm lacking for blogging inspiration, how lucky am I that it's Wednesday Hodgepodge day at Joyce's blog!
She asks the questions, you provide the answers. All are welcome to join.

1. It's been said that one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day?  Do you think that's true? Do you find that an easy exercise most mornings? What's something positive you told yourself this morning? If you missed that boat, what's something positive you could tell yourself tomorrow?

Yes, there is indeed one small positive thought in the morning that can change my whole day. But it's only true of one very particular thought:

That alarm is not for you.

If that thought is true, my whole day is better.

I'm not a morning person. Right now I have it really good-- the kids' school doesn't start until 9am, so I get up at 7:30 and slide right from my bed into Alex's where I wake her up with snuggles. Five minutes later, I slide out of hers and into Derek's. Repeat the snuggles.
If we are able to get a house on base in Alabama next year, their school will start at 7:55.
I want to cry a little when I type that.

2. There will be karaoke at the next party you attend...are you in? Or will you be faking a sore throat?

Is there also wine at this party?

Two words: Nineties Rap.

3. January 29th is National Puzzle Day...what's something you've found puzzling lately?

I live in Spain and don't speak great Spanish. It might be more expeditious if I make a list of what I don't  find puzzling.

4. Jigsaw, crossword, acrostic, logic, sudoku, word search...what's your favorite, and when did you last work one?

I'd say logic is my favorite.
We recently bought the game "Rush Hour" for our family and we've all had fun* trying to get that red car out of the traffic jam.

*Sometime in my house, fun looks like me throwing tiny cars and saying naughty things.

5. Recently a writer by the name of Amy Glass ruffled feathers with a post she wrote saying she looks down on young women with husbands and kids and she's not sorry. Among other things she says women will be equal with men when we stop saying housework and real work are equally important.  You can read the whole piece by clicking here.

What say you? Do you think men and women are equal in the 21st century? Why or why not?

I suppose I'm one of those people she looks down upon, but I can't say that it ruffles my feathers. I'm laughing all the way to the coffee shop. ;)

We all value different things and prioritize life choices through our own worldview. One of the things she wrote in her article is: "You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids."

But she can't define for me what it is to be exceptional, or who I want to be exceptional for. 

6. What's a product you've noticed in the grocery store that you'd like to try, but haven't yet?
Adult diapers. It's just that I haven't needed them yet, but think of the convenience! Skipping bathroom breaks could increase your productivity if you're a big coffee drinker, and imagine the road trip implications...

7. The author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was born this week back in 1832 (January 27th). Which character from his celebrated novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, would you most like to meet, and why? Here's a link to the character list if you need help on this one.
Due to lethargy, lassitude, and indolence, I regret that I am unable to form a cogent remark pertaining to the subject.

True fact-- I had a lovely teacher in high school who had this phrase posted at the top of the blackboard, and if she called upon you and you didn't know the answer, you had to stand and repeat that sentence.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

There are so many names now to define your style of eating. Every once and while, a facebook friend will call upon others in their eating cult group for advice.

It looks like this:
Hey, fellow clean-eating friends, where can I find...(insert something I would have to look up here)?

If I am not one of those friends, have I become a dirty eater?

Are you paleo?

No, but I sure am pale-o. I mean, it's January for goodness' sake.

I saw a new one today-- primal eating. This conjures images of upper-middle-class Americans filing their teeth into points and stalking prey in the forest.

I'll need to go google it now so I can erase that image from my mind.

Thanks for the questions, Joyce!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Let's check the mail.

It's 12:30 on a Monday.
So far I've drank two cups of coffee, done a load of laundry, and the facebookings.

Facebook can be a letdown when you live in Europe and all of your "friends" are sleeping.

This reminds me that I wrote a whole blog post earlier this month in which I made New Year's resolutions on behalf of my facebook friends. It was funny. But in the end, it was a little too snarky to hit "publish" on and so I didn't.
You know what they say-- If you can't say something nice....

Now I'm trying to work up the energy to check the mail.
You think I jest.

These are the steps involved:
1) Make myself presentable. This is no easy task.
2) Collect my metro pass, embassy badge, wallet, and keys.

Number of times I have arrived at the embassy without my badge: too embarrassing to disclose.

3) Descend from my apartment. Chat with our portero Carlos.
4) Walk two blocks to the bus stop. Wait for the 9, 19, or 51.
5) Get on the bus. Attempt to remember to get off at my stop while simultaneously remembering that if I sing out loud with my earphones in, other people will hear me.

Number of times I've forgotten to get off at my stop: too embarrassing to disclose.

6) Get off the bus. Walk three blocks downhill to the embassy back entrance.
7) Show my badge.

If I've forgotten my badge, this is when I curse myself and leave in defeat.

8) Walk through the guard building, through the parking lot, and swipe my badge at the door.
9) Go in and push the elevator button. Wait a short lifetime. Wonder when they're ever going to fix the second elevator that's been out of service for months. Contemplate that I'm waiting 5 minutes to go down one floor but have no stair options that aren't locked.
10) Go down one floor. Chat with José the mail guy. He corrects my Spanish for me.
11) Open the mailbox we share with 4 other people, look for a package. If there is no package, experience disappointment. If there is a package, but it's not addressed to me, experience jealousy. I do a lot of internet shopping. And a lot of waiting.
12) Filter through the envelopes for anything with our name on it.
13) Lock the box. Go upstairs. Leave from the back door, walk through the parking lot, go back through the guard building. Walk one block to the bus stop. Wait for the bus.
14) You get the idea.

And that is why I have to work up the energy to check the mail.
I would like to install a small camera into our mailbox so I can see if I have a package before making the trip, because I assure you that going for a bank statement hardly seems worth it.

Happy Monday.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Every time I open my blog I think to myself that I should change the pictures on the header because they are really old.
And then I go about my posting business and promptly forget about it.
Until the next time I open the blog.

January is flying by. I have a strong suspicion that all of the months between now and July are going to do the same. I just want to enjoy the time we have left here and not think too much about the next move, but there's so much planning involved in relocating overseas that it's not very practical.

It's been life as usual for us-- school for the kiddos and Josh, and whatever it is that I do.

(Hint-- it's not a lot.)

Cafes, shopping, having a maid. I should be on Real Housewives of Madrid.
It's a shame it can't last, but a year and a half is a good run. I feel like now I can sympathize more with rich, lazy people. A group that desperately needs sympathy, no?

We've had a lot of opportunities to hang out with Spanish friends lately, which is good for practicing language and learning more about what life is really like for Spaniards. We spent New Year's Eve with some friends who have a little girl in Derek's class. In Spain, it's tradition to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight for good luck in the new year. I thought it sounded easy until I tried it. Turns out that eating a grape a second is actually quite tricky. If I have bad luck this year, it's because I started laughing and spit one out.

Today as I ran up and waved at the bus driver to let me on the number 9, I was thinking of how much more at home I feel in the city these days compared to when we first arrived. Back then, if I was running to catch a bus and the driver had already closed the doors, I would wait meekly for the next one. Now I do what everyone else does, and bang and wave like a crazy person.

I've been passing along information to the family that will come to the course next year, which is probably why I've been thinking more about what life was like when we first arrived. It doesn't feel like it could possibly be time to think about leaving. Or that when we land back in the States, it will have been a year and a half since we were last there. Time is certainly a funny thing to wrap your mind around.

Hey, it's Friday! Yippee :)
After school, we usually play in the plaza with the other kids, and tomorrow we have 2 birthday parties to attend. One is an ice-skating party with some American families, and the next is for three girls from Alex's class who are having a karaoke party.
I wonder if the moms can participate....and if they have any 90's rap songs available.

I'll let you know.

And now I must go, because I have...you guessed it...a coffee date. Arúgula on Velázquez has the best croissants, FYI. But today I'm thinking I might go with a tostada con tomate. Decisions, decisions.

Happy Weekend.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dos Mil Trece

It's a new year, with plenty of new things in store for our family in the next 12 months. Six of those months we will spend here in Madrid, and the following 6 in our new "M"-- Montgomery, Alabama.

...and all of the sudden nobody wants to come visit us anymore. Ha.

 Yes, our next address will find us back in the US of A, for another all-too-brief assignment of 12 months.

Josh will be attending another military professional development course. Code name SAASS, which stands for...something.
I believe this next assignment will set us on a course for 4 years in a row with a move.

North Carolina to California-- May 2012
California to Spain -- Jan 2013
Spain to Alabama-- July 2014
Alabama to ??-- July 2015

Whew. I'm tired thinking about it. I feel like we just unpacked.

But instead of looking ahead to 2014, I thought I'd ponder a bit over the year that's just ended. Mostly because it's been one of the best years to date!

 In 2013...

1) We lived outside of the US for the first time ever. What an experience! Not always easy and sometimes lonely, but the good has outweighed the bad by a landslide.

2) We learned (ish) a new language. Take it with a grain of salt, because I would not claim to be fluent in Spanish, but I now have a group of friends who don't speak English and we get along just fine. I'm sure I miss out on several jokes and tidbits along the way, but we can pass an evening together with lots of laughter and conversations, which still blows my mind.
But not as much as number...

3) My tiny infant babies speak a second language! It's just incredible to watch them play with friends and realize that an outsider wouldn't know right away that they're foreigners. Their first trimester grades at school were a huge improvement from last year, and they're being graded as if they were native speakers. Hearing them speak Spanish is quite possibly the cutest thing since Theo and Beau went viral.

4) I learned to play Gangster's Paradise on the ukulele.
So there's that.

5) I can still do a handstand.
So there's that, too.

6) Josh wrote a monografía (thesis) on the Goldwater Nichols Act. I proofread it, and managed not to fall asleep very often.

7) We got our money's worth from our Abonoparque passes by going to the amusement park, zoo, and cable car more than anyone ever in the history of Madrid.
Or at least it felt like that.

 8) We lived in an apartment for the first time ever, and also had a housekeeper for the first time ever. Yes, a housekeeper who came once a week despite the fact that I don't work and the kids were in school for 8 hours a day. And she's also our babysitter, and she also cooks for us when she comes to clean.
Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam.

I feel guilty, but as they say, "When in Rome..."


9) After three deployments and lots of hours flying fast aircraft, Josh almost died going on a morning jog. But he didn't.

Triple Bam.

10) Let's finish strong... I spent 2013 being the most horribly inconsistent blogger in da world.

Um, sorry about that.
Here's to doing better in Dos Mil Catorce, and thanks to those of you who are still out there in the interworld checking in on us!

Wishing you all many blessings in the year to come...may you all learn to play old rap songs on a shrunken guitar!