***

***

Is it Bedtime yet?

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

Summah

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

Update

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?

Right?

Anyone? Bueller?

Ugh.

- 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?
Nope.

 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?

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.