Monday, August 25, 2008

European Destination - Part I

Hola! It’s official… We now live in Spain and I still can’t believe it. What a journey it was! We flew out of Dulles (in the DC area) to Madrid on Saturday, 16 August, and arrived the following day. It was actually a great flight. The boys were awesome, keeping themselves entertained with their Game Boys and/or portable DVD player. We took off close to 9pm and managed to get a little sleep on the plane, which is unusual for me because I don’t normally sleep well on planes.

We arrived in Madrid the following day at about 9:30am local time, 3:30am EST time in the U.S. Needless to say, we were exhausted! We had a 2-hour layover in Madrid, but we’d been told it could be confusing to make the connecting flight, and that was certainly the case. We found our way around okay, but for whatever reason (We never did figure it out) we were “not in the system” for the connecting flight, therefore we missed it altogether. What was really frustrating was the rushing around we did, trying to find someone to help us. The language barrier wasn’t the problem as everyone working a counter spoke English. The problem was that we were being sent from one counter to another, and not really getting any assistance.

I finally had a mini-meltdown right there in the airport. I’d say I was embarrassed, but at that moment in time, I was tired, frustrated, confused, hungry, thirsty and suffered from PMS. Looking back, I feel sorry for my poor husband. He was doing all he could do to help make things go smoothly, but missing the connecting flight was totally out of his control. I cried a few tears of fatigue and frustration and tried to hide those tears from our boys, but my little man noticed right away that I was struggling. He asked me what was wrong and I told him I was tired, frustrated, hungry and thirsty (I left out the part about being confused and suffering from PMS since those things need not be shared with little people). Without missing a beat, he opened up his backpack and handed me his water bottle. Talk about feeling humbled! My child was holding it together better than I was.

We finally got ourselves booked for the next scheduled connecting flight and they didn’t make us pay extra since we had proof that we’d paid for it, and luckily the flight was only three hours later. I found the chairs in the airport very uncomfortable, therefore I sprawled out on the floor to try to catch a few winks. I told my husband that I realized I probably looked like a homeless person, but I didn’t care. It’s amazing at how you can simply lose all dignity when you’re physically, mentally and emotionally drained.

We boarded the connecting flight and things were looking up. We were almost there! I sat between my husband and some man who had what appeared to be blood under a few of his fingernails. I suppose I would have found that to be somewhat alarming under normal circumstances, however, I was too tired to give it much thought during the flight. What I did give a lot of thought to was the fact that my knees were literally jammed into the seat in front of me. I rather like being tall most of the time, but not when sitting in a seat on an airplane. My legs were aching and I never did find a comfortable position during the 50-minute flight. I just kept telling myself, “It’s only 50 minutes. It’s only 50 minutes,” like I could will myself to be comfortable. It didn’t work, but 50 minutes did pass by and we landed in Jerez de la Frontera, our journey almost over. We still had luggage to locate and a 20 to 30-minute drive to the base… Stay tuned for the continuation of “European Destination.”

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's done

Finally our household goods are crated and loaded on a truck. Wednesday was an incredibly long day! First of all, the movers didn't arrive until 10:30am, a couple of hours later than we'd anticipated. They didn't bring a handcart/dolly, so they used ours until one arrived later in the day. We wondered what they would have done if we hadn't had one for them to use. Aren't they supposed to be the professional movers?

They only sent three movers too, so that slowed down the process considerably. Luckily as the day wore on and other movers were finishing up their jobs, they trickled in to help out our crew. At one point there were nine people hauling stuff out of the house and loading it onto the truck, and we were still there until after 9:00pm. We don't have that much stuff! I know crating household goods takes longer than simply loading it all onto a truck, but this is what these folks do for a living, right?

We remained calm and relatively patient, but it wasn't easy. It had gotten to the point that I just wanted to start hauling stuff outside myself. I wanted to shout, "Git 'r done, people!"

Like I've said before, moving is an exhausting business, whether you've packed and hauled boxes or simply watched. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. If you've ever been through one of these military moves, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, the best way to describe the feeling is to compare it to sitting in a hospital, waiting for news or visiting with someone for hours on end. You haven't actually done anything physical, but the sitting and waiting (and even worrying) simply wipes you out.

Yesterday we went back to the house to do some cleaning and laundry (the washer and dryer are still there as they belong to the owners). I cleaned out the refrigerator/freezer, pantry and the kitchen cabinets. The movers won't pack certain household items for good reason (i.e. candles, lightbulbs, etc.). I gave some stuff to the neighbors because I hate to just throw things out when someone else might be able to use them.

So we left our house and neighborhood for the last time yesterday, and we were a little melancholy. Actually, I think my husband was just relieved, but the boys and I were a little melancholy. Of course I'm melancholy about everything right now and you know why... PMS. You know what's going to happen... I'm going to manage to hold off starting my monthly cycle until the moment we board that airplane. How pleasant!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Moving Mania

I just realized today is my 200th post. Maybe that means it's a lucky day or something. I guess we'll see. Anyway... on to the real reason I'm here posting today...

We stayed in the hotel last night and it was actually very pleasant. We had dinner at Houlihan's, the restaurant in the hotel, and it was very good. We had to walk through the hotel lobby in order to get to the restaurant and there was a camera crew interviewing someone from a group of foreign soccer players staying there. I did my best to avoid the camera as I looked like something the cat dragged in. Trust me, I was quite a sight! It would be just my luck to end up on national television when I look my very worst. It's Murphy's Law... You know, you go to the grocery store in your sweatpants with no makeup and hair standing on end, 'cause you're just going to grab a gallon of milk, and lo' and behold, you see 10 people you know.

I stayed up WAY too late watching the Olympics last night. I couldn't help myself. I'm so infatuated with Michael Phelps and his athletic prowess and swimming ability. He makes Aquaman look like a girly man, doesn't he? It was totally worth staying up late to watch him take home two more gold medals and smash another couple of world records. It's all in a day's work for Michael Phelps. He da man!

I'll just say it here... Ear plugs are the bomb! When you have four people sleeping in the same hotel room, it can get a little noisy. Of course I think I make most of the noise, but I don't know that when I'm asleep. Our little man is a heavy breather when he sleeps, so I needed ear plugs to drown out the racket, and I slept very peacefully. God bless the individual who invented these puppies!

Before retiring for the evening, my husband arranged for me to rent a car right there at the hotel. How convenient the whole deal was! He was able to reserve a vehicle for me online after hours and then I just had to go downstairs this morning to sign the paperwork and get the keys to the car. The whole reason we're renting a car for a few days is because my husband still has to go in to work for outprocessing and of course this morning he needed to be at the house to meet the folks loading our household goods on the truck. It was going to be too early for the boys, so we decided a rental car would be beneficial during these next few days before we move. Well...

I go downstairs to pick up the rental car and all is going smoothly until the girl (Yes, GIRL... She looked like she was 12!) escorted us to the Altima we're renting and showed me the proper way to start the car. It uses one of those keyless start buttons, but you have to push in on the brake and... let's just say it confused me because I'd never driven a car like this before. She showed me what to do, I thought I was good to go and she left me in the parking lot to be on my merry way. I proceeded to hook up Betsy, our GPS, and then I attempted to start the car. Nothing happened. I thought I remembered everything the attendant showed me, but for the life of me, I couldn't get the doggone car to start. In the meantime, I'm starting to pour sweat because it's HOT in the car and the boys start to complain they're hot as well. I had to go back inside and confess to the girl and all the young hot chicks working there that I was a moron and needed another tutorial on how to start the car. I'm sure they all had a good laugh at this "old lady" after I was gone. I finally figured it out, and none too soon, as I was about to have a mini-meltdown. Did I mention in my last post that I'm currently suffering from PMS?

Now we're at the house and the moving folks are loading the truck. The boys are begging to have a neighbor friend over to play on the Wii. I'm not in to watching someone else's kid while my house is in total disarray and everything is chaotic. If that's selfish of me, then so be it. Hey, I have an excuse. I have PMS! Nothing else matters right now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moving & PMS... not a good combo!

Well, tonight is our last night in our house. Tomorrow night we'll be in a hotel as all of our household goods will be packed up, linens included. I need you to know how much I'm going to miss my bed for the next couple of months, until our stuff catches up with us in Spain. We did mail our pillows, so that'll be some kind of consolation, but I digress...

While I'm excited about our move and what awaits us on the other end of our journey, I'm a little sad about leaving the house that has been our home for the last two years. This house isn't our home; we've just been renting. Even still, it's been "ours" for the last two years and we'll miss it as well as our neighborhood. Our boys have made some good friends on our street and I know they'll miss them too.

Moving and change are inevitable in our world. The military has taken us lots of places and we've enjoyed them all for various reasons. I always look forward to moving to new places and meeting new people, but leaving is always a little emotional too. I leave every place wondering if we'll ever be back (to live or visit), if our local friends will keep in touch with us once we're gone, if we'll ever see any of those friends again... It's a lot for me to take in sometimes, particularly because I'm very sentimental, and even more so this week because I have PMS. Yes, I realize that's a little too much information, but I've already said it, so there you have it... the ugly truth!

I just love having PMS during emotionally charged events/situations (Note the sarcastic tone). I honestly can't be held accountable for my actions this week due to the fact that PMS has me in its grip. I'm just hanging on here, folks, trying to keep it together. I suppose I could use that to my advantage, huh? Hmmm... PMS ought to be good for something other than making my life and the lives of those around me absolutely miserable!

Good-bye house... good-bye neighborhood... good-bye favorite family restaurant... good-bye church... good-bye school... good-bye DC traffic... WAIT! That's a good thing! Good-bye awesome hairdresser... good-bye shopping malls... good-bye girlfriend... I need a tissue! Did the packers already pack the tissues? WHERE are the tissues? I NEED A TISSUE!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The moving saga continues...

Our life is consumed with our move right now. Yesterday we packed our clothing for the plane ride. Today we'll pack our toiletries and gather up other items we might consider mailing to our next destination. Why do that now when we don't leave until Saturday? Movers come tomorrow to start packing up the bulk of our household goods, and when you've moved as often as we have, you know from experience that whatever isn't nailed down, will get packed, even your trash - REALLY! We'll put everything we don't want the movers to pack in our guest room, close the door and put a sign on it to let them know they don't need to bother with the stuff in that room. It's just easier for all concerned.

We've finally sold, given away and trashed pretty much everything we can until the last of our belongings leaves the house for good. Then we'll focus on the items that weren't packed, which are usually things like food items, candles, lightbulbs, batteries, cleaners, etc. We'll try to pawn those things off... uh, I mean donate them to someone in the neighborhood. I usually just throw out half-used condiment containers and such. Who really wants someone else's half-used mayonnaise? You don't know how long they've left it sitting on the counter after last week's BBQ, or who's stuck their dirty fingers in the catsup. Yeah, some things are just not meant to be shared.

Today was our last day at church and that was a little emotional. I'm such a crybaby anyway. I managed to cry a couple of times this morning, and I so hate doing that in front of large groups of people. I'm not a pretty cryer. Some women look beautiful even when they cry (I HATE that, don't you?), but that wouldn't apply to me. I get the Rudolf nose and splotchy face and my lips start to feel dry and cracked from the salty tears. And then there's the whole runny nose thing. No, it's not even a remotely attractive sight.

I'm starting to feel like I just want to be in our new location and skip all the good-byes, explanations and tears. Moving is draining in every sense of the word for me - physically, mentally and emotionally. I feel like a rag doll at the end of it, simply devoid of all energy. In fact, all this talk about moving makes me want to go (YAWN) take a nap. Maybe I'll sneak upstairs and do just that. Sshhhh... don't tell anybody and they won't miss me for a half hour or so.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why can't I be Samantha or Jeannie?

As you know, we're in the midst of moving, having had packers at our house two days this week and expecting more packers three days next week. I don't mind moving to new places, meeting new people and such. What I abhor is the physical exhaustion that is associated with moving. Mind you, it's not as if I'm actually packing the boxes; it just feels like I am.

We like to prep our house before moves... purge and get rid of unwanted items by either selling, donating or trashing them. I LOVE getting rid of stuff! I could totally be on the "Clean House" TV crew. I suppose it's one of the perks of moving with the military. The more we move, the more I feel as if I could live with less. We have our fair share of stuff, don't get me wrong, but we're minimalists compared to lots of other folks we know. I don't enjoy unpacking and finding a spot for every little thing. The less we have, the less there is to unpack. So we've been purging for a while, giving away lots of stuff, selling some items on craigslist (which is AWESOME!) and trashing the rest. It feeds my soul, I tell you!

Our express and storage shipments have left the house, so next week will bring packers for two days, and the truck will be loaded on the third day. What we have to do between now and then is decide what we're packing to take with us on the airplane ride to Spain, and then of course do the packing. That means laundry needs to be done and decisions need to be made. It's difficult to decide what to pack because I'm afraid of not taking something I'll really need, but then again, I don't want to schlep too much stuff around the airport either. Decisions! Decisions!

Then we have cleaning to do. Ugh! I simply don't want to do it. I'm tired now and I haven't even started to do all that needs to be done. I just want someone to do it all for me, or else I want to have the ability to magically get it all done with little or no effort on my part. If I could just be Samantha from "Bewitched" or Jeannie from "I Dream of Jeannie," I'd be set. All I would have to do is wiggle my nose or blink my eyes and POOF! My chores would be history. Heck, I'd already be moved into my house in Spain and not even have to worry about the plane ride. Our household goods would unpack themselves. What a nice little escape from reality I just had! Now... back to the laundry...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Nude beaches in Spain

A girlfriend of mine asked me if I'd seen this phone commercial yet. She's seen it several times and every time she sees it, she thinks of me because of the fact that we're moving to Spain soon. I hadn't seen it.

My oldest son, almost 12 years of age, approaches me a couple of days ago with this very serious look on his face and says he wants to ask me something. I'm wondering what on earth is on his mind, so I tell him to go ahead and ask me anything. He tells me about this same commercial and asks me if ALL beaches in Spain are nude beaches. Check out this video!

Side bar... My son is HIGHLY embarrassed about anything to do with nudity. This is the kid, when in the National Museum of Art in Washington, D.C., took one look at a "nude" statue and asked, "Is that REALLY necessary? That's disgusting!"

I told my son I was sure there were a few beaches in Spain where we'd find people in swimsuits. He was so relieved! And of course I was relieved to know he was relieved. It's too soon for my boy to be googling over naked bodies!

Monday, August 4, 2008

When are we moving again?

It's all starting to happen. Our first shipment of household goods is scheduled to be packed and loaded for Spain sometime today. Tomorrow someone from another moving company comes to inventory the bulk of household goods that will be packed next week to be shipped weeks down the road. Thursday will bring yet a different moving company to pack and load the items that will go to storage for two years.

Are you confused yet? I know my head is spinning a little from all the details... different dates, different packers, different shipments of household goods. Slow this carnival ride down!

Our boys are trying to take in all this information too. The 11-year-old doesn't seem to be too concerned with all that's going on, other than the fact that he's going to miss his friends. He's not complaining, nor is he despondent, but he's not doing somersaults either. He's just doing his own thing, oblivious to all the planning and preparation. The 8-year-old, on the other hand, is simply confused and continues to ask the same questions over and over until we want to pull our hair out.

Now when are we moving again? Okay, so when do we go into a hotel? And when do we get on the plane? Give me strength! If he's asked these questions once, he's asked them a hundred times. I almost wish we hadn't told him any details so he wouldn't continue this never-ending game of 20 questions.

Both boys seemed fairly untouched regarding this move until asked to help pick out beloved personal items to pack in the express shipment. What a chore that turned out to be! They were terribly confused about what to put in their backpacks for the plane trip and what to put in the express shipment. It took way longer than expected. It was painful, people!

Hopefully we can get through the next couple of weeks without having to resort to taking mood-enhancing drugs or drinking to excess. Have mercy!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

How did this happen?

We had dinner on Friday night with the daughter of friends who were neighbors of ours when we were newlyweds in Dover, DE (the first time we lived there). They lived just next door and had two girls living at home, one of whom would become our exclusive babysitter when our oldest son was born a year later. How convenient it was, having the babysitter NEXT DOOR! We didn't know how blessed we were at the time. Trust me, we do now!

Anyway, this daughter of our friends has changed a bit; after all, it's been almost 13 years since we moved next door to her family. She's now a BEAUTIFUL young 20-something-year-old, on her own, living in the DC area and going to grad school. She's in a serious relationship with a MAN who's 30 years old, for heaven's sake! (We even got to meet her special someone on Friday night.)

Our Jessica has become a WOMAN and I want to know one thing... HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Lord have mercy, I'm getting old!

Friday, August 1, 2008

I wanna be a thoroughbred

Being the Kentuckian I am, I take pride in the beautiful horse country for which my home state is known. What's really sad, however, is the fact that I'd never really appreciated the horse business and knew virtually nothing about it. I can now say that has changed since our recent trip home to visit family.

My dad was able to get us on a couple of tours, one at Keeneland Thoroughbred Race Track in Lexington and the other at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway. We went to Keeneland first, and although they weren't currently racing while we were visiting, we did get to go to the track and watch the horses work out and train.

We were so impressed by the horses' beauty and strength! Check out these magnificent animals...

Before leaving Keeneland, we had breakfast at the track kitchen, which was a real treat, and then we headed over to Three Chimneys Farm in Midway. This horse farm is quite the place!

Three Chimneys is basically a thoroughbred breeding farm. It's absolutely gorgeous and the horses residing there are treated like royalty! The winner of the 2008 Kentucky Derby, Big Brown, will be residing at Three Chimneys and there are lots of other well-known horses also on the premises, including Dynaformer and Smarty Jones. These horses no longer race, but are bred with hopes of siring future successful racehorses.

Here are a couple of pictures of the grounds at Three Chimneys...

Here's Smarty Jones, the resident hot shot. He's the undefeated Kentucky Derby winner and has retired as the fifth richest American Thoroughbred of all time. He's ALL THAT and more...

And here's Dynaformer, the big stud of the farm. He's been the Top Five sire for five of the last six years and sired 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. You too can have Dynaformer bred with your mare for $150,000. He's got some seriously strong swimmers!

We toured the farm and learned LOTS about how horses are bred. We were shown the "reception room" where the mares are brought to the farm to be prepared for breeding. The reception room is where they meet "the teaser," who... ahem... flirts with them and gets them ready to "receive" the stallion. Is this a horse farm or a horse brothel? TMI already! I almost wanted to cover the ears of my boys!

Here are a few more shots of the beautiful countryside surrounding the farm...

Yep, I wanna be a thoroughbred and live at Three Chimneys in my next life. Good food, good digs, good view and lots of action! (wink wink)