Monday, October 27, 2008

Hurry! Buy it NOW!

Before we moved to Rota, I communicated with other military spouses who had previously lived here and the advice was always the same in regard to shopping... If you see something you even THINK you might want, you'd better snag it when you see it because it won't be there when you go back. I couldn't imagine things to be quite so drastic. I mean, come on... Hoarding? That sounded like an exaggeration to me.

I'd always thought people who hoarded things had some issues. They either had an addiction to spending, were scared that their favorite shampoo was going to stop being manufactured or they were just plain selfish. Whatever the reason for their hoarding, they had some major problems.

Well... my point of view has dramatically changed. If I learn but one lesson while living here at Rota, it's to hoard the things I like and use, even if I rarely use them. You see, the supply of items for the commissary and NEX are limited here, and it seemingly takes forever to re-stock them. It's as if we're at the end of the food chain.

Need an example? I've been here since mid-August. I forgot to pack more of my Mary Kay makeup remover, therefore it got shipped with our household goods, leaving me without any. There are no Mary Kay consultants here, nor does Mary Kay ship overseas, so I was forced to find something else to use until our household goods arrive. No big deal, right? When I went to the NEX to purchase makeup remover, I found they were out of stock. I've checked back every week since mid-August and they're STILL out of stock. There aren't enough of specific items to satisfy the needs of the population of people residing here. All it takes is for Sally Sue to discover the NEX has makeup remover this week and POOF! It's all gone because Sally Sue bought the entire stock.

Need another example? I bought these little sports ice packs for my boys' lunch bags when we first got here. We gave one to a kid who needed ice for an injury in a soccer game and never got it back, which normally wouldn't be a big deal because these things aren't expensive and I could just go get another one, right? Not here! I looked for WEEKS before finding these ice packs again. When I found them, I bought the replacement ice pack as well as two more... just in case.

Some items are seasonal, such as pumpkin pie filling. One can only get it now until probably Christmas. If I want pumpkin pie at any other time of year, that's too bad because I won't be able to find it on the shelves. I must buy it now, and be sure to buy enough to last me a while.

My kids like Gogurt and it's great to put in their school lunches. What has been the trend for me here is that the commissary rarely ever has Gogurt, at least not when I'm in the store. If I see it, I'm forced to buy 2-3 boxes at one time. If it's close to the expiration date (and it always is), I freeze them.

Computer printer items are evidently coveted by all who reside here because they are hard to come by as well. We searched the shelves for quite some time before we were able to find business cards. Some people have computer printers that require ink cartridges the stores here do not carry at all. Thankfully we aren't among that crowd.

Do you see what's happened to me here? I've become a hoarder of goods! I see something I like and know I'll eventually use and I don't just buy one or two of these items... I buy five or six (maybe more) because I don't know if that particular item will be in the store when I return in a few days. Hey, it's dog eat dog here! It's every man for himself! It's sink or swim! It's sh-- or get off the pot! I'm sorry... IT IS WHAT IT IS!

It's like I'm on a TV reality show, one where contestants are given a shopping cart and are told to put as much merchandise as possible into it during a designated amount of time. I feel I have to be on the offensive here at all times. I might need to start wearing elbow and knee pads and a helmet in the commissary and NEX, so that I'm ready to do battle with all the other shoppers. Now that I know the rules of engagement here, I can hold my own. Bring it on, fellow shoppers! I'm ready.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Maxine & Halloween

I was reminded just how much I love Maxine when she helped me out with my last post, so I'm continuing the Maxine kick a little longer. She just tells it like it is, doesn't she? Secretly, I wish I had a little more of Maxine's nerve and wit. I'd never be taken advantage of because no one would dare mess with me. Of course I'd also have no friends either. Hmmm... Guess I'll just live vicariously through Maxine.

Amen, Maxine! I couldn't have said it any better! Could you sign me up while you're at it?

Oh, come on, admit it! You know this is how you feel about some of the obnoxious, greedy kids who grace the entrance of your home at Halloween! You just don't SAY what you're thinking. Maxine does!

Maxine... gotta love 'er.

Don't forget...

... to turn your clocks back soon. The time change is this weekend here in Spain. If you don't live in Spain, I can't help you with your time change, but I'll bet it's coming up real soon. How's that for being helpful?

You know I love when the time changes in the fall. That whole "fall back" thing is cool because that means we get an extra hour of sleep, and sleep... well, sleep ROCKS! Of course I've forgotten to change the time before and ended up arriving at the wrong time to church the next day. Hate it when that happens! Makes me feel incompetent and embarrassed, but then, I feel that way a lot lately since moving to Spain. We won't go there today.

Instead, we'll just look to Maxine to hear what she has to say on the subject of turning your clocks back...
You gotta love Maxine!

9 Words Women Use

As clever as I'd like for you to believe I am, I cannot tell a lie... the following is not my own creative compilation of words women use and the underlying meaning behind each of them. This is an email I opened this morning and although I've read this before, as many of you may have as well, it just cracked me up all over again and I thought I'd share it with you, in hopes that it might bring forth smiles and chuckles in the midst of your day. Some of these are so on the money. We women really are a complicated breed sometimes, aren't we? I'm wondering if I should print this out for my husband's future reference. Hmmm...

(1) FINE: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

(2) FIVE MINUTES: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. FIVE MINUTES is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

(3) NOTHING: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with NOTHING usually end in FINE.

(4) GO AHEAD: This is a dare, not permission. DON'T DO IT!

(5) LOUD SIGH: This is not actually a word, but a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A LOUD SIGH means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about NOTHING. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of NOTHING.)

(6) THAT'S OKAY: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. THAT'S OKAY means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

(7) THANKS: A woman is thanking you... DO NOT question or faint. Just say, "You're welcome." (I want to add a clause here - This is true, unless she says "Thanks a lot" - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say "You're welcome" ... that will bring on a WHATEVER.).

(8) WHATEVER: Is a women's way of saying SCREW YOU!

(9) DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT; I GOT IT: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking "What's wrong?" (For the woman's response, refer to #3.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

He's growing up...

Our older son is growing up entirely too fast. I've noticed just how tall he's getting and now he's got this peach fuzz on his upper lip and a little acne every now and then. He's becoming a young man and I'm wondering how that happened. Seemingly I blinked and he sprouted into this tweener. He'll be a teenager next year and that blows me away.

A couple of weeks ago I went to give the big man a hug and he shrunk away a little. He's never been an overly affectionate kid in that he'll allow hugs and he'll hug back, but he doesn't initiate them, unlike our younger son who is perfectly comfortable with giving and receiving hugs and always has been. I asked our big man if it was okay that I wanted to hug him and he said, "Yeah, but just not in public." Okay, I understand that and I respect his feelings, so I only give hugs in the privacy of our own home.

Last week our boys' elementary school invited parents to come have lunch with their kids. My husband and I made arrangements to be available as we realize these moments are significant, for the boys and for us. Soon enough they'll be in middle school and these precious opportunities will be few and far between. Our kids are growing up so fast and we just want to be present for every event, whether it's attending an awards program, a ballgame or simply having lunch with our boys.

So we showed up at school at the appointed time, anxiously anticipating lunch with the boys. We knew we'd have to divide and conquer because the boys had lunch at the same time, but sat in different locations, so my husband would join one of the boys and I'd join the other. Our younger son has a real "daddy thing" going on these days, so I knew he'd probably want to eat with my husband. I'm cool with that because I know he doesn't get to spend as much time with his daddy as he'd like, and he sees me all the time.

We spied our older son first and I went over to say hi and to check with him to see if it was okay for me to have lunch with him. I happened to notice none of the other kids at his table had parents accompanying them. It occurred to me that D might not feel comfortable being the only kid with a parent hanging around, so I asked him privately if it would be okay if I joined him or would he prefer that I join his brother instead.

My sweet son looked at me and said, "Either way is fine."

I got the distinct feeling that D just didn't want to hurt my feelings, so I told him I wanted him to decide what he really wanted. I asked him point blank, "Would you like for me to sit with you during lunch or would you prefer I have lunch with your brother? You can be honest and you won't hurt my feelings. Am I cramping your style?"

My son looked at me and sheepishly said, "You can just sit with M."

WHAT?! So I really WAS cramping my son's style! Oh, the pain a mother feels when she knows that her very presence embarrasses her child! Can you believe that? After all I've done for this kid and he blows me off like that! I'll just go have lunch with my OTHER son, who WANTS me around!

Oh, wait! I couldn't allow this to bother me because I told him he could be honest and that I wouldn't be hurt, and while I do understand, it does hurt a little. I know this is all part of maturing. Kids go through phases where it's not considered cool to hang with the parental units. Hopefully it's truly just a phase, that he'll eventually come around and not be ashamed to be seen with us in public.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can't a girl hang out in her jammies?

I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer hang out in my pajamas all day long while residing in base housing here in Spain. Base house living and lounging in pajamas simply do not mix, and it's quite a sad realization for me. Don't jump to conclusions and get the wrong impression of me. I don't spend EVERY day lounging in my jammies, but there are those days when that's exactly what I feel like doing, and if I don't have anywhere I have to be, I will often indulge my desire to hang out in my pajamas until my heart's content. Alas, that will no longer be an option as long as I live here.

You see, every single time I decide today is the day I'm going to hang out at home in my jammies, some Spanish maintenance man (and in today's case... THREE Spanish maintenance men) arrive unannounced at my door to work. I'm telling you, it's like Grand Central Station around here! I never know when one of these guys is going to show up as it's seemingly impossible for them to give people advance notice of their arrival time. This is seriously cramping my style!

Anyway... let's just say it's more than a little awkward to answer the door in my pajamas with my hair standing on end, only to find someone on my doorstep wanting to come in to do some kind of maintenance work. Of course, if I looked like a hot Victoria's Secret model in sexy negligee, it wouldn't be so bad, but unfortunately, I am not a vision to behold in my granny gown.

I'm thinking if these people would call ahead and give me some notice, I might be a little more presenatable when they get here. But hey, if they can't give me a heads up, they may just have to suffer the consequences.

Monday, October 20, 2008

There's something about a man in uniform...

Both of our boys are Scouts, the older one having already bridged to Boy Scouts and the younger one remaining in Cub Scouts. Kids in uniform are so cute, aren't they? When ours have on their Scout uniforms, they somehow become more serious and all business. And yes, there have been those times when I've considered having them wear their uniforms to school on a daily basis as a result of the change it seems to bring over them the minute they put THE UNIFORM on.

Parents don't usually accompany Boy Scouts to their meetings, therefore the opportunites to snap pictures of our older son are few and far between these days. We do, however, get to see our little man all dressed in Cub Scout garb a little more often. Check him out... Here he's practicing reading his line as his den prepares to post the colors for the pack meeting.

Here he's helping post the colors. I love the fact that Scouts are taught to respect both the American and Scout flags.

I believe he's reciting the Scout Promise here, but I'm not 100% sure, so don't quote me. I also know that when this "peace sign" is made at den meetings, it means everyone needs to get quiet. It's fairly effective too, so I've considered implementing this technique at home as well.

See? Look at how he's sitting and paying attention! I'm telling you, there's something about the uniform.

Look at how serious these boys are about the assignment they've been given! Why is that? You guessed it... it's the uniform!

Here's our little man having fun at a recent bowl-a-thon, the big fundraiser for Cub Scouts.

Do you see the concentration in little man's face? He's serious about this bowl-a-thon business.

He's poised and ready! Okay, he didn't realize that it didn't matter how many pins he knocked down since all of his sponsors gave him flat donations rather than giving him a certain amount for each pin. No matter! Our guy was in the zone, baby!

Yep, there's something about a man in uniform, whatever his age.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Learning, Lunching & Laughing

Wednesday I was invited to join several ladies for lunch in nearby Sanlucar. I'm always game for going out to lunch, especially when it's with a fun group of people. We took two vehicles since there were too many of us to ride in one, and I rode in my girlfriend's SUV. Uh... note to self... this is the reason why SUVs aren't recommended for driving in Spain... We had the hardest time finding parking and even this parking space was difficult to fit into because SUVs are not only long, they are wide, and they take up a lot of space, therefore my girlfriend parked her big rig up on the curb to avoid sticking out too far into the street. We laughed so hard! All I could think about was the fact that I was thankful I wasn't driving our Yukon XL.

One of the ladies in our group is Spanish and originally from the local area and she took us to this place... Here we tried several tapas (translation = appetizers) and as you can see, there were lots to choose from...

While we were inside choosing our appetizers, these Spanish men decided they wanted to have their picture made with some of us. Who were we to turn them down? So here we are with our new Spanish boyfriends...
Seemingly every bar/eating establishment in Spain has jamon (translation = ham) hanging from the ceiling. They love their ham here and it shows! It doesn't do much for me personally, but I've gotten accustomed to seeing it everywhere, so it's no big deal anymore.

And, of course, in Spain it's all about the bull, baby!

I actually really liked this appetizer. These are tortilla de camarones (translation = fried shrimp patties). You may be wondering what the little black dots are scattered throughout this dish. Well, I understood they were definitely NOT pepper, but rather the eyeballs of the shrimp. True or false? I don't really know and I don't really WANT to know.

These are chocos (translation = squid) and I admittedly chickened out on trying this dish. I'm sorry... I simply couldn't go there! They may have been delectable, but I frankly didn't care to find out. I also tried a few other foods... red peppers & onions, cooked fish eggs, cheese and some bread and I topped it all off with a Coca-Cola. How Spanish of me, huh?

These folks provided some musical entertainment during our lunch. Some other people came by our table trying to sell us beaded jewelry and we politely turned them down, however, I asked to take their picture and they quickly turned away. I probably offended them, unknowingly of course, but it didn't seem to deter them too much as they came back to our table a couple more times.

I'm taking this picture of my new girlfriends...
... and here I'm posing with my new girlfriends...
Learning, lunching and laughing lots were the main courses on this day and I enjoyed every minute. Where are we going next week? You game? I'm game!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Housing maintenance people, why do you test me so?

It must be my lot in life to wait. It seems like I'm in a constant state of waiting, whether it be for my kids to finish soccer practice, my husband to come home for dinner or from a TDY, or in today's case... the housing maintenance people to show up.

I realize these maintenance folks are very busy and that they're probably on the receiving end of housing residents' anger and sarcasm more often than they deserve, and I'm truly sorry for that, however, sometimes it's just so dadgum frustrating waiting for them. It never seems to fail that they want to schedule an appointment when it's completely inconvenient for me, particularly when I haven't been given a choice of time slots.

Yesterday I discovered a hanging "thingie" (Note the very technical term) on my door knob saying someone had been here to fix my leaky toilet and I wasn't at home. Hmmm... Do you think perhaps that was because no one called to say they were coming? If they'd have let me know, I'd have knocked myself out to be around, but instead I found the little note basically saying, "WE were here. Where were YOU?"

I try my best to be available when workers say they're going to be here. I can appreciate their busy schedules and I'm such an accommodating client... I REALLY AM! I will totally rearrange my day to make things work out, only to be disappointed when no one shows... like today.

These folks left a note on my door last week saying they'd be here today between 10:30am and 11:30am for a routine check on the electric panel box, however, I waited until 11:50 and no one ever came. Parent were invited to eat lunch their kids at the elementary school today, and that was important to me, so I had to leave the house. I left a note on my door in the event someone actually came by, but there was no sign of anyone having been here upon my return. So now what? Am I supposed to call the maintenance office to reschedule? Will they call me? Sigh... Housing maintenance people, why, oh why do you test me so?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Missing Autumn

Autumn is my favorite time of year, hands down. I love the crisp, cooler weather and the beauty of the colorful tree foliage. I love ANYTHING pumpkin and the harvest decorations adorning homes, both inside and out. I love Halloween (and candy, I might add) and seeing kids having so much fun in their costumes.

I love Thanksgiving and the meaning behind the holiday. I love foods that we associate with autumn... hot soup, chili, turkey dinners and the like. I LOVE AUTUMN! I also miss autumn because it's just not the same here in Spain. Don't get me wrong, being at the beach anytime of the year is great, but it can't take the place of autumn in places like Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee... anyplace where I can experience all of the things mentioned above. So, those of you who live in locations where you have the opportunity to enjoy these things, please do so and enjoy them a little more on my behalf.
This is how I feel about missing autumn in the States...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You've got to be kidding me!

I was browsing through a catalog a couple of days ago and came across this particular item that simply floored me. It's called a "Thumb Thing," and evidently it's purpose is to make holding a book with only one hand much more comfortable. The directions say, "Just slip the tip of your thumb into the opening, and the bright plastic gadget's 'wings' hold down the opposing pages with ergonomic ease. Thumb Things are perfect little helpers for reading in bed, at the beach, or on the subway."

Just how much more lazy can our society possibly get? Seriously. If you need one of these gadgets just to read a book, you have some issues. Get some help.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The solution to insufficent TV programming in Spain...

Our TV programming in Spain consists of the Armed Forces Network (AFN). There are LOTS of military-related programs and delayed sports, but not a lot of anything else. Let's just say there isn't much of a variety and leave it at that.

The boys aren't too thrilled with TV here, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. We figure it prevents them from becoming total couch potato TV-aholics, right? We were right... They aren't total couch potato TV-aholics, however, they have become addicted to other electronic gadgets. When we were in the midst of moving, the boys watched movies on the laptop computer. Then they used our portable DVD player on the plane ride to Spain and have continued to use it here as well.
Game Boys are key when we're someplace that's not overly kid-friendly, such as an assumption of command. Boring!

The newest obsession in electronics has been the Wii, which the boys acquired at Christmas last year. The latest, greatest addition to the Wii collection is this...
This, my friends, is Guitar Hero, and I fear life may never be the same in my house again now that it lives among us. The boys are rockin' out to music I knew in high school, which is so funny. They can't understand why I know this music because they don't realize it's OLD. They just think it's because I'm COOL! Hmmm... maybe Guitar Hero will turn out to work in my favor after all.

Mickey D's = Comfort Food

Yesterday we made a trip to the mall to browse the aisles of Toys R Us and Carrefour in Puerto. The boys have a few birthday bucks burning holes in their pockets, and their mentality is "I must spend every dime I have." They're also compiling Christmas wish lists at the request of grandparents, so our little field trip was two-fold.

The boys didn't find anything they couldn't live without during our shopping excursion to the mall, however we did scoot inside McDonald's for some good ol' familiar grease. Mmmm...

All four of us ordered the same thing, mainly because we're ordering in Spanish and it's simply easier for everyone to get the same meal. My husband did the ordering. He walked up to the counter and told the young man working the counter that he didn't speak Spanish (You know, to give the guy a heads up that he's really going to have to pay attention to our pitiful attempt at speaking his language), and then he proceeds to order. When my husband finally finishes ordering, the guy looks at him and asks, "You want drinks?" in ENGLISH! We looked at one another and cracked up. I asked the guy how we were doing, ordering in Spanish, and he said we did a good job.

What I want to know is how the McDonald's dude knew we spoke English. Are we that transparent? Do we have signs on our heads that say "I'm American" or what? Frankly, I think that's profiling, don't you?

Anyway... I digress. Here's what we had for lunch... Cuatro cuarto libre con queso y patatas fritas (Translation: Four quarter pound cheeseburgers and French fries)

Oh my goodness! I think I can already feel my arteries hardening, but that's okay. I'm already committed and anxious to dig in. Life without beef? I don't think so!
French fries? Spanish fries? Who cares?! They're DEEP FRIED POTATOES!

Meat and taters in any form is pretty doggone good in our opinions. Gracias, McDonald's! Te amo!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The question of the day...

Ever go to the bathroom and do your business only to discover there is an empty toilet paper roll next to you? Hate it when that happens! And yes, I would really like to know... What WOULD MacGyver do?