Is it Bedtime yet?

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.
-WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?!?!?

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.

Ew.
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.

*Josh

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.

*Josh

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.

*THIS IS WHERE SATURDAY'S POST ENDED

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

#saturday

Hi.

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.

#winning

#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.

#humility.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Ode to a Cool Ranch Dorito

I made the mistake today of going to the store in the embassy whilst hungry. Every processed, calorie-laden food was calling out to me. "Don't leave me here on the shelf! Take me with you!"

And so I did.

I made it as far as the bus stop before I had to open the Doritos. The first crunchy chip made me proud to be an American. Where snack food is done right.

Don't worry, I didn't actually write a poem to my chip. After all, I've written poetry on the blog before, and I think once was enough. Although it paid a lovely homage to a family that I tore apart, if I do say so myself.

And I do.

So. It's Monday, it's sunny and warm, I will be picking the kids up this afternoon with nary a jacket on, and I'm blogging with a bag of cool ranch doritos at my side.

I can ask nothing more from life. At this precise moment. Later I will ask more things of life.


We had a nice weekend. On Saturday we spent some time biking and skating in the park. When we came out of the tunnel entrance into Retiro, I felt like I was back on the diag at the University of Michigan on the first warm day of spring. There were people everywhere, laying out in the grass on blankets, having picnics, throwing frisbees...

You know, like the images they put on the university brochure, when they don't want you to think about what it will look like on the diag for the 75% of the school year where gray snow-sludge covers the paths and the idea of cute co-eds in short shorts looks more like gender-unidentifiable mummies wrapped up in parkas and the freshman fifteen.

Saturday night Josh and I had dinner plans with our friends, the Garcias. They agreed to eat "early" with us, since they know we're the strange Americans. So our reservation was at 9pm.
Ha! Early!
When Anna comes to babysit for us, she stays the night because she lives outside of the city center and the night busses run few and far between. So we didn't have any reason to rush our evening out. After dinner, we wandered around with our friends while they showed us some cool local spots. We hit a couple of places to stop for a copita, and finally got home at 3 in the morning!
It was my latest night so far in Madrid, but to see the streets full of people, dressed nicely, going in and out of restaurants, you would think it was 10pm.

At 1:30 in the morning we went up to the terrace of this building, because it's apparently not at all strange to be able to walk into city hall in the middle of the night to have an aparitivo y bebida.




Josh and I slept in the next day, went to the late service at church, and chilled out at home the rest of the evening. In a rare twist of events, the children invented a superheroes game and played together nicely for hours.

I have to write that down lest I forget it actually happened.

Now I feel the need to devote my full attention to the Doritos.

Goodbye.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Hudgepudge

It's Wednesday again, and it would appear I haven't blogged since last Wednesday. But thanks to Joyce for the motivation-- join up here and give your answers to this weeks questions.

1. The expression 'mad as a March hare' originated with a fictional character who is distracted and frantic. When were you last 'mad as a March hare' and what was it that made you that way?

Hmmm, distracted and frantic...
I can't remember the last time I felt that way. I do tend to get a little worked up when I'm trying to do several things at the same time. I'm no good at multi-tasking. Or sometimes when I'm running late I feel that way.

I think the Spanish people are rubbing off on me though-- they really don't seem to get worked up very easily. If they're running late, you'd never know it because they'll still be strolling at a regular pace. Several times, I've rushed the kids on the walk from the metro to the school because we only had a few minutes. Then I'd get them dropped off and while I'm walking down to the bus stop, I'll see some children in the same uniform slowly meandering up toward the school with their parents, seemingly unconcerned about the time. I think I'm too American to go that far.

And I appear to be off topic now as well.


2. Mardi Gras this year falls on Tuesday, March 4th. Have you ever been to Mardi Gras, and if so what did you think? If not, do you have any interest in going?  Purple, green, and gold are the colors of Mardi Gras. Which one is most prevalent in your wardrobe? How about in your home?

I've been to N'awlins a couple times, and one was during Mardi Gras. I was part of the Honor Guard in ROTC and we drove a big 'ole van full of college students from Michigan to New Orleans to participate in a competition down there. We did a routine which included tossing heavy rifles around.
Now that I'm older, I'm not sure what made me think having someone toss a heavy wood and metal object toward my face would be a good idea.
Oh, that's right. I think it was the promised trip to Mardi Gras...and the commemorative t-shirt.

I remember thinking it was a lot crazy, and also a little sad. Seeing so many "grown ups" totally wasted in the streets was a shock. I thought that kind of reckless, immature behavior was just for us college students.

As far as those colors-- I'd have to say that green is the most prevalent in both my wardrobe and my home.

3. Are you old fashioned?

Depends. I would say I am traditional in some ways-- I enjoy being a housewife/homemaker/domestic engineer/insert term of preference here. I like when men hold the door or give up their seats for women. I suppose those things seem old-fashioned now.
On the other hand, I love technology.

Yesterday we were without internet all day and I almost didn't survive. I got the shakes around noon from withdrawal. I thought I should maybe just go shopping or something, since it looked sunny out. But I couldn't pull up weather.com to confirm, so I just curled into the fetal position and rocked back and forth compulsively hitting 'Refresh' to see if we were back online.



 4. Do you carefully plan your vacations, or do you prefer the days to be more spontaneous?

Ugh. I plan them so much that I'm sick of the place before we even get there. Maybe in the future I'll try a spontaneous vacation, but for now when traveling with children it seems best to have a plan in place.
Especially when traveling overseas, it helps a lot to have read up online before, let's say, arriving to a poorly marked Italian train station. Planning ahead also saves money-- when we were visiting the different cruise ports on our trip last year, there were many places when I knew from prior research that the kids could travel via train or bus for free. If I hadn't checked it out first, we would have bought them tickets, because they don't advertise it well in the stations.

Just this week we booked a short trip to London during the upcoming spring break. I haven't had time to start the research phase yet, but rest assured it will happen.

 5.  March is National Sauce Month...what's your favorite sauce, and what do you most often top with this sauce?

Zip sauce, baby.
It's a steak sauce from Josh's family's favorite restaurant, Lelli's.
You must go to Michigan and try it.

 6.  What's something that easily brings a tear to your eye?

Watching military homecoming videos. Guaranteed cry. I wont even click the link if there's anyone else home at the time.
I'm not sure if I would cry just the same if I had no affiliation with the military, or if I cry because I've been there/done that, or maybe it's that I know I'll likely have to be there/do that again.

Whatever it is, crying is a sure thing.

Like a girl on her wedding night.

I meant that the girl is a sure thing, not that she'll cry.

Although she might cry as well.

I didn't though.

Cry, I mean. Of course I put out.

I'll stop now.


 7. If you could own any sports team, which one would it be and why?

How about Real Madrid? Anyone affiliated with those guys is more popular than the King. And I'd get to stick around my favorite city.


8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Today is the first day it feels like spring! (Glad I'm out of snowball range when I type that)
The sun is out and I celebrated by taking my new rollerblades for a spin through the park. I bought skates because Alex has been using hers and I thought it would be more fun if we could skate around Retiro together.

I learned that:
1) I'm out of shape.
2) My sense of balance is not what it used to be.
3) It's embarrassing to fall down in front of a pretty fountain and possibly a tour group.