Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Es la mezcolanza de Miércoles! Tu también puedes unir con nosotros en el sito web de Joyce.

Hazlo. Todo el mundo está haciéndolo.


1.What is something you'll never forget about the age you are right now?

The obvious answer for me would be living our Spanish adventure. I'm already nostalgic and we haven't even left yet.
When I was a teenager I wrote a list of things I wanted to do in my life. I wish I still had it because no doubt it would be amusing, if not embarrassing, but I do recall that two things on the list were to 1) live in a city and 2) learn another language.
I don't think I ever really expected to be able to do those things, so I'm even more grateful for this crazy, unexpected opportunity.

Another thing I'll remember about this age is that for the first time since I became a mommy almost 9 years ago, I've had a chance to get back to being me as well. For so many years, my identity has been wrapped up in those two little people who required so much of me to survive day to day. Now as they become more independent, I'm finding the time to do the same.

It turns out that "being me" entails: hermitting, reading, holding the couch in place, not improving my cooking skills, being blog negligent.

Ah, it's good to be me.

2. What's a household chore you've never done? How have you managed that???

This one was a little tricky. When your other half's job requires him to leave for months on end, you tend to find yourself doing things a little out of your comfort zone. But I can say that I've never cleared a clogged drain.
I can't handle the thought. It makes me want to vomit. Hair balls....I just can't.

I need to move on from this question before I start gagging.

3. Does nature shape our personalities more than nurture? Explain.

Yikes. That one might take more space than I'm allotted on blogger. And more brain cells than I care to use at the moment.

I wonder if it's even possible to know; you certainly can't separate one from the other. Generally speaking, I would say that nature and nurture work together to shape our personalities in an unquantifiable manner. I would also say that some individuals seem to be hyper-sensitive to one versus the other and it seems that either nature has overridden nurture or vice-versa.

4. Friday (February 28th) is 'Something on a Stick Day'...funny because Zoanna at A Penchant for Pens recently sent me a question for the Hodgepodge relating to this topic.  What's your favorite food eaten on a stick?

Definitely roasted marshmallows. In desperate times, I've been known to roast a marshmallow over a candle.

I learned this is best done with scentless candles, as the marshmallow will absorb the scent.

This has been a Public Service Announcement.

5. Which of your five senses do you treasure most, and why?

I think I take them all equally for granted, and can't imagine life without any one of them.
Not being able to see would probably be the most life-altering, with hearing right behind it.
I guess if I had to sacrifice one, it would be either smell or taste. I suppose not being able to taste would make dieting a little easier. If I couldn't smell, I'd probably live my life paranoid that I had stinky breath, and also compulsively apply deodorant.

6. What's the best music, theatre, or sporting venue you've been to? What made it great?

I don't got much culture, y'all. *smacks chewing gum*

I remember seeing Les Mes in the National Theater in Washington DC, and I loved the musical but can't remember anything about the theater itself.
Here in Madrid, I've enjoyed the intimate settings of the flamenco shows.

I saw Breaking Dawn: Part 2 in the Lighthouse Theater in Monterey, California.
Life altering.
Also, Cinemark Theater in Del Monte Shopping Center, also Monterey. They had a cheap 11:15am showing of Pitch Perfect that really changed my outlook on life.

7. It's the last week of the month...in five words or less bid adieu to your February.

Stop going so fast, months.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My 8 year old thinks she has a novio. That's Spanish for boyfriend.


At first, I just let it go when she came home saying that she liked José Luis.
He was the class president, and she said he was super listo y educado.
That means smart and polite.

When she continued to mention José Luis on a regular basis, I paused to clarify:

Me: So he's a good friend?
Alex: No, he's my novio.
Me: What do you mean?
Alex: I want to kiss him.
Me: Go to your room right now, young lady!

Only I didn't say that last part. I was too busy hushing her lest her father hear her and hunt down José Luis.

Me: What does José Luis think of this?
Alex (quoting him in heavily accented English): "You are not my girlfriend." It sounded more like Zhu air naut mai ghirlfreend.

Me: Ummm.
Alex: I don't care. He's still my novio.

This has been going on for months.
The other morning she told me she had a dream that a large staircase popped up in the middle of the school patio, and Jose Luis was in a chair at the top, and she climbed up the stairs and kissed him in front of the whole school. And they got married.

She was quite offended when I suggested that maybe she had not actually dreamed that and instead was just trying to make daddy upset.

On Valentine's Day, her teacher asked if any of the children had novios. She raised her hand. José Luis did not. He hid under the table.

One day, JL was very maleducado at school and was removed from office as class president.
This did not deter Alex.

Great. Now she likes the bad boys.

The latest part of this saga is that Alex is thrilled to bits to report that the new class seating chart finds her right next to her beloved.

I guess I'll just have to move her across the ocean to fix this.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sin título


Let's talk about the weekend, shall we?

On Friday afternoon, which also was the Día de San Valentín, we had a parent-teacher conference with Derek's teacher. She confirmed that he is the most fantastic boy in the universe, and then we had an hour and a half to kill before pickup time.

So we headed over to Copas Rotas for some cheap wine and tapas.

This guy was my blurry date.

He wasn't blurry in real life.

Well, until the third copa.

(I'm kidding Mom. Stop planning my intervention.)

And my hair is a hot mess. I want to say it was windy.
I'm not sure if it really was, but I want to say it anyway.

That was the extent of our Valentine's Day celebrating.

On Saturday it was rainy and we stayed in. Alex took a lot of pictures with her camera.
This one troubles me.
New Rule: If you're still wearing footie jammies, then your hip should not do this:

On Sunday, Derek had an ice-skating birthday party for which he had been counting down the days. There was much excitment.

Although this picture doesn't necessarily show it.

Derek and María are good friends. She used to be Derek's mouthpiece in school-- if he needed anything, was injured or sick, had a question, etc., María would speak for him. She's a little mama.
Now his teacher has to ask him to stop talking.

His amigos helping him skate. How cute is this?

And now a new week is here.

Monday morning metro.

After drop-off, I had a coffee and a donut. Because it's Monday.

And I had to take pictures, because I only have 4 months left to take pictures of everything. And I mean everything.

Good Morning, Atocha!

Hello Cibeles!

Top of the Morning to you, City Hall.

I even took a picture on the bus.

And now I'm home.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Right now, at the top of my Facebook newsfeed is a new post in which a guy from my high school wrote as his status:

"how do you get rid of foot fungus"

I literally had to sit on my hands to stop myself from typing any of the following responses...

1) Gross

2) I'll let you know after I get this raging case of gonorrhea under control.

3) When dealing with personal health issues, keep the following equation in mind: Google > Facebook

Sorry. I had to get that out.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

La Vida Fría

I think today might win the prize for worst weather day we've had since arriving to Madrid. It's just plain icky-- cold, rainy, windy.

The kids were in heaven.

Ever since they received their very own umbrellas for Christmas, each cloudy day brings them to the windows, hoping for rain. So they happily puddle jumped their way to the metro, and from the metro to the school.
I decided after dropping them off that this weather was an indication that I should forgo my planned errand of grocery shopping and instead curl up with a cup of hot coffee and keep the couch in place.
It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

But after the second cup, I recalled that we scraped the bottom of the barrel with pancakes and eggs for dinner last night, and I should probably at least run to the market around the corner for something a little heartier for our meal tonight.

Yesterday my dad sent me a picture of my favorite soup simmering on his stovetop-- it was a recipe from my friend Ashley that I had passed along to him and Cindy after we had it when they visited us in Monterey.
And suddenly no other thing would do for dinner on this cold, wet day than my favorite soup.

So I abandoned the neighborhood market plans and instead headed to the embassy. I've tried the soup before with the sausage from the stores here and it didn't work-- only the hot and spicy crumbly American links will do.

Mmmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Totally worth returning home with
freezing fingers, looking like a drowned rat. I hope.
I do have the ability to ruin even the most basic recipes. Pancake balls, anyone?

On Saturday we took the kids to a dinner and Flamenco show. It was a lot of fun! Josh and I went to flamenco once before, but when I saw a good deal for it on Groupon, I snatched it up.

Forgive the fuzzy photos, they didn't allow flash, and I didn't realize we had the camera set to low megapixels.

Huevos Rotos-- yum! It's a common Spanish dish of eggs and jamón over french fries.

Alex seemed to enjoy the show, although by the end she was looking sleepy. Derek practically fell asleep on my lap, and flamenco is not quiet. Guess we haven't changed them into Spanish kids after all, as the children here have no problems staying up to all hours of the night.

I was about to make a caveat about how non-photogenic I am, but maybe this is just actually what I look like.
But it was raining, so that's my excuse for my hair.

We had stage-side seats. I quite like flamenco, the music is hauntingly beautiful.

On Sunday I taught the kids' class at church again, and survived. We played "Pin the Jonah in the Whale" which was a big hit. I went with my usual Spanglish for the lesson. I might have been laughed at a time or two.

Watching the weeks slip by on the calendar, I've felt a pressing need to start carrying a camera with me everywhere. I'm still so amazed at this chance to live here in Madrid, that I want to record everything-- even the regular stuff that we do everyday.
Alex got a camera for Christmas, so I grabbed hers on the way out the door to pick them up yesterday and snapped some pictures at the bus stop on the way home.
It was windy.

Pretty sure Alabama wont have many bus stops like this ;)

Have I mentioned that I love our lives in Madrid?
A time or ten?
Okay, just checking.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Well look at me wearing my hodgepodge pants two weeks in a row.

Would YOU like to hodgepodge with me? Just visit Joyce's site to link in.

And with no further ado....las preguntas de esta semana.

1. Are we always responsible for our actions? Are there any exceptions?

Well, well, Joyce. Jumping right into the deep end, are we?
My answers- Yes and Yes

Naturally we must each be accountable for the things that we do, or don't do. And yes, there are exceptions.
1) Sleepwalking. If you do it in your sleep, it's not entirely your fault.
2) Straight up crazy episode. Losing your mind does happen, it would seem.
3) My husband's constant propositioning of me. I mean, how can I blame him? I'm the complete package.

[I could not type that last one with a straight face]

2.  Has anyone from your home town become famous?

Um, helloooo? If you're reading this, then you're on my blog. You know, my very own webpage. Do you think just anyone can have one of these?
There are at least 5 people who read this site whom I've never met in real life. Do you know what that makes me?

Yep. Famous.

[Alternate answer- No.]

3. January was National Slow Cooker month. Do you own a slow cooker/crock pot? Did you use it last month? What's a favorite dish you make using a slow cooker or crock pot?

My crockpot is taking a year and a half long vacation while we live in a country that just can't take the heat.
Of my crockpot.
Plugged into it's European sockets.

So no, I haven't used it in quite a long while. But I'll be checking around the old 'podge to jot some down for when we get back. You can't beat the feeling of having dinner "done" at 9am.

4. How do you feel about private companies collecting data about you?

Well I feel as though I should be upset. But I just can't scrounge up the energy to bother about it. I mean, I post everything about my life here on this World Famous Webpage. They can collect their little hearts out, and maybe we'll become friends.

Of course, you're probably asking more along the lines of purchases made, websites visited, etc.
In that case, "they" have probably figured out that I'm cheap and I'll click on anything that says Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are going to make beautiful vampire babies together.
Or that Taylor Swift has a new breakup anthem. Or Anna Kendrick's twitterfeed. Or Suri's Burn Book to get my fill of celebrity babies (They are just like regular babies-- only better!)

I'm not ashamed very much.

5. The Games of the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off with their opening ceremony this coming Friday....will you be watching? Which Winter Olympic event would you most like to see in person? Have you ever been to Russia? Any desire to go, Olympics or otherwise?

I will probably catch some of it, assuming that Spain's free access channels will air coverage. Like most people who prefer sunburn to frostbite, I enjoy the summer Olympics more than the winter ones. Plus, I've always planned to be an Olympic gymnast. I haven't decided yet which year will be mine. Maybe 2020? It has a nice ring to it.
Although I've always been intrigued by the amount of personal grooming it would take to wear one of those leotards.

Maybe the winter Olympics aren't so bad... the athletes do tend to wear more clothes.

No, I haven't been to Russia, and I don't want to go. I don't look good in furs.

6. Share a good or bad sports related memory from your childhood or teen years.

I never participated in any team sports until junior high school.
Then I tried out to be a cheerleader, or athletic supporter if you will. Like a jockstrap.
I was kind of a disappointment to the idea of a cheerleader, what with my perm, mouth full-o-metal, and my coke-bottle glasses, but I had fun.
Later I played softball and joined the swim team for a couple of summers.
I would like to go on record to say that although I was not a super talented athlete, I held my own. Therefore the utter lack of coordination that is my darling daughter did not come from me.
I don't want to point fingers, but JOSH.

7. What's a must have song for you on a work out play list? If you don't work out, run, swim, bike, walk, or anything else that could be construed as 'exercise', then what's a song that motivates you to at least get up off the couch?

Let's call a spade a spade here. I haven't "worked out" since the day I arrived in Spain. I tried to go for a run once, but I got distracted by my pressing need to breathe and so I stopped.
But I have done a ton of walking, as that is what city living is all about. I use my iPod every day as I meander around Madrid, and I've been slowly adding to my music collection as I hear friends recommend different groups or songs.
Hopefully I can get some good inspiration from the other Hodgepodglings today.

I recently bought an album by Muse, and although it's not my typical choice in music, I've really enjoyed it.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Josh and Alex both have birthdays in the month of May, and this year they are going to celebrate together with a very special daddy-daughter trip....to Paris! Can you believe that?

Josh really wants to see Paris, and I'm more of a "let's see what the couch has to offer instead" kind of gal, so we thought this would be a neat opportunity for Alex to make special memories with her daddy while Derek and I get time together at home.

And that's a Hodgepodge wrap.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's Tuesday Exclamation Point

I forgot to mention in my last post that I also enjoy Taylor Swift.
Now my conscious is clear.

The kids had last Friday off school, and it was nice to have a three-day weekend.

On Friday evening, we had a family over who have become good friends. They taught us a card game using a Spanish deck and we taught them euchre.
Not sure we could have chosen a more complicated card game to explain in our rather inadequate Spanish, but we had fun nevertheless. The kids ran around and played until they were giddy with sleepiness.

Saturday we enjoyed a grand day of nothingness. This is my favorite of all kinds of days. Sleep in, drink coffee, go to the park, realize it's really windy and go home 15 minutes later, watch a movie, play board games, go to bed. Bliss.

On Sunday Derek was a little under the weather so Josh stayed home with him while Alex and I went to church. I'm teaching the children's class this month so I needed to be there. I couldn't remember the last time I had driven, but it's just like riding a bike. Ha.

Teaching the class is kind of tricky, because although we attend an English-speaking church, many of the kids don't speak or understand much English. But they all speak Spanish, so I make a clumsy effort to teach in Spanish and they all enjoy correcting me. Maybe too much.

They are also a rather...rambunctious...group, so I've got my work cut out for me. This week I tried to stay one step ahead of their energy level. We played hot potato, and whoever ended up with the potato had to answer a question from the lesson. If they got it wrong, they had to do 10 jumping jacks.
We're going to turn this into a bootcamp.
The good news is that February only has 4 Sundays.

And what I mean by that is that it's simply a delight to be with the children.

The Superbowl came and went. Josh gave some serious thought to staying up to watch it; it was on from around 1-5am here. But then his course rescheduled an exam for Monday morning so he decided against it. Instead he went in, took his test, and then snuck out to come home and watch it before someone told him who had won.
We didn't have one team we were rooting for more than the other, we just wanted to see a good game.
So you probably know how that turned out.

Today I went to the Embassy and there was no good mail. But I made up for it by stocking up on American junk food from the store there. I barely restrained myself from the Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey.

When I was a freshman in college, I had the dorm meal plan. If you had an extra meal left at the end of the week you could exchange it for a pint of Ben & Jerry's from the snack bar. Now this girl didn't miss many meals, but you'd better believe I never let one of those extra meal credits go to waste. It's a good thing that I was stuck in the farthest dorm from most of my classes-- I was able to walk off the Chunky Monkey.

And the Cherry Garcia.

And the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

And the...