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.