Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Tidings Begin

Christmas has come and gone and, as always, I'm left feeling as if it blew past me when I wasn't paying attention. So much preparation and then... POOF! It's over.

We were a busy bunch during the holiday season, and of course it's not completely over as tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I'll share with you some of the highlights of our holiday season, beginning with the base tree lighting ceremony in early-December...

Friends from our chapel sang Christmas tunes and were quite a hit. I always enjoy hearing these two sing together as their voices blend beautifully.

My hubby and some of our local Air Force friends gather during the tree lighting festivities.

This adorable little girl was to perform with her dance team, but the poor thing developed quite a severe case of stage fright and just froze in front of the crowd.

This is my girlfriend's precious little boy and also the object of affection for lots of people, me included. I get my baby fix whenever C's around.

These ladies work for MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation for those not familiar with the acronym) and they dressed in candy cane attire for the event. They looked cold, but very cute!

This guy donned a Christmas tree suit for the occasion. I think it takes a man very confident and comfortable with his masculinity to put one of these babies on.

This is just one of many Christmas-related events we attended during the holiday season. More to follow... and I still have to share some photos of previous trips to Portugal and Germany. I have so much to show you! In case I don't post again before January is here, allow me to wish you a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The age of innocence is fleeting

I knew this day was coming, and it's finally arrived. My oldest son, at the age of 13, has decided he's outgrown Santa. I knew this was the case as he'd been questioning the very idea of the great, magical bearded one for probably the last 2-3 years. In fact, I'm sure he stopped believing a while ago, but just didn't announce the news to the family for fear of having nothing under the tree on Christmas morning.

We were recently at a kids' Christmas party on base, and Santa was handing out the gifts under the tree, calling each kid up, one at a time, to sit on his knee and have his/her photo made. "D" wasn't keen on sitting on anyone's knee and he came to me to ask if he could opt out. Our truth-revealing conversation went something like this...

D: Do I have to sit on Santa's knee?

Me: Why don't you want to sit on Santa's knee?

D: I'm too old for stuff like that.

Me: What makes you say that?

D: I don't know.

Me: Don't you believe in Santa?

D: No, not really.

Me: Why?

D: Mom, I just don't think it's possible.

It wasn't so much what he said, but how he said it that made me realize he truly no longer believed. I knew it didn't matter what I said. His mind was made up.

Me: (Slightly panicked) Does your brother still believe?

D: I don't know, but I think so.

Me: Keep it alive for him!

D: Got it!

We talked about how the belief in Santa is a magical part of Christmas and we don't want to ruin that fun for other kids and their families, so he should keep his thoughts and beliefs to himself. I believe he gets it.

I know now that it's true... the age of innocence is long gone, and that makes me a little sad. I find myself wanting to turn the clock back and make time stand still. My little boy is a young man now, a young man with feet bigger than mine and 6 more inches on his frame than this time last year. He's growing up and leaving fairy tales, childhood games and pretending behind. How can that be?

Were his Christmases magical? Will he carry with him cherished memories of Christmases past? I certainly hope so, as I have such fond memories of Christmas as a child. Everyone should, don't you think?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Needin' a vacation after all the Christmas preparation!

Folks, Christmas is upon us! Are you feeling the joy or are you struggling to get everything done before Christmas Day arrives? We've been shopping and decorating and baking and writing newsletters and addressing cards and going to parties until we're nearly wiped out. And it's only 7 December!

Everything is such a production, you know? Take gift buying, for example... you have to figure out what to give the recipient, which can be very difficult, especially when some recipients give you absolutely no idea what they'd like to receive. (If you're on the receiving end of one of our gifts and you think I'm talking about you, I probably am.)

Next you have to set out to find the gift you're looking for, and when you live in Spain, my friend, it can really be challenging. First of all, shopping here is just plain different than shopping in the States. There aren't as many options. I rarely find what I'm looking for. Thank God for online shopping!

Once you've purchased a gift, you have to wrap it, right? I used to love to wrap until recently. It's quickly becoming one more step in "THE PRODUCTION." I'm mailing the gift and sending it across the ocean. It's already a hidden surprise in a box, right? Why do I need to wrap it too? I know I should make it all pretty so the recipient feels special, but the cost of shipping alone should be enough to make the recipent feel special. Boxes, bubble wrap and packing tape ain't cheap!

And to top it off, every stinkin' box has to have an accompanying customs form. Have you ever had to fill out one of these babies? Filling out one isn't such a big deal, but it gets rather old after the fifth form. I'd rather have a poke in the eye with a very sharp stick than to fill out those forms. And of course if you live overseas, you have to mail your boxes very early if you want them to reach their destination before Christmas. When most people are still just thinking about their Christmas gift lists, our boxes have to be in the mail.

I've been relying heavily on online shopping for the last two Christmas seasons. I'm sure my family thinks I must be the laziest person there is, but in the interest of saving time, energy, money, and more importantly my sanity, I've decided to purchase online and have the gifts sent directly to the recipients. Sometimes gift wrapping is an option, and sometimes it's not. Many people are receiving gift cards this year. If you're one of those people, please know I love you, but I simply had no clue what to buy for you. You can take your gift card and "Get yourself something nice... something REAL nice" (Quoting Cousin Eddie from "Christmas Vacation") on me.

By the way... who takes care of the gift purchasing in your house? I take care of it around here, and while I've willingly accepted that responsibility, I wonder what would happen if I didn't do it. Hey, maybe that will be at the top of my wishlist next year...

Marva's Christmas Wishlist:
1) Someone else purchases all of the Christmas gifts this year

Gift buying is just one of the many responsibilities we have during the Christmas season. There's also the baking. Do you feel like you've baked for an army? We need to bake for the single service members here, which I think is a great idea since these folks are far from home and without their families. Showing them a bit of Christmas cheer is a nice thing to do, but how many cookies do I really need to bake before I've adequately passed around the Christmas cheer? Four different groups have asked me to provide cookies. And my oldest son helped make cookies for a group last night. I'm going to be so tired of baking that I won't have the desire to bake for my own family. The Scrooge in me wants to know when someone is going to bake me some cookies.

This year it took us only a day to decorate for Christmas. It should have taken us a week as we have more decorations than any family ought to have and now we're both in need of traction after our marathon decorating day. There are the outdoor lights and decorations to put up as well as the tree and indoor decorations. I have to literally remove most of our everyday home decor in order to make room for the Christmas decor. We have bins upon bins of decorations. Whose fault is that? I have to admit the fault lies with me as I love Christmas decorations, but only when I'm shopping for them, not while I'm doing the decorating.

We're still in the process of printing out our family newsletter that we always send along with our Christmas card. We got a new computer recently and we had to install some new software. Let's just say that we needed some technical support last night when we started printing out these suckers. One year we didn't send our newsletter to many of our family members and friends because we figured they pretty much knew what was happening in our lives and that they might be bored with it. That backfired in a big way and we had to "renew subscriptions" so to speak. I don't understand it... it's not like the newsletter is particularly clever or creative, but for some reason, people want to be on the receiving end.

Anyone who sends out Christmas cards knows this is definitely a lengthy process. You have to pick out the cards you want to send, decide whether to include a family photo and subsequently take care of those details (frequently a HUGE headache), determine how many cards you need to send out, type and print out the family newsletter (if you're in to that kind of thing, and obviously we are) buy the stamps (if your local post office has them), address the cards (We print out labels on the computer, which is always a lesson in patience and perseverance), stuff the envelopes with cards and newsletters and maybe a photo, affix the stamp as well as labels for your return address as well as the recipient's address times 300.

Yes, we send nearly 300 Christmas cards. My rubber stamping friends who make their own Christmas cards have my respect and admiration. I'd have a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome if I made cards for 300 people. Not happening! So people, if nothing else, this should point out that you ought to feel extremely privileged if anyone sends you a Christmas card, as many people no longer feel the need to do so and have gone the route of online cards and newsletters for various reasons to include going green to save the environment, ease of convenience, and saving money. Their decision is probably based a little more on escaping the whole process of sending cards. It's time-consuming, expensive and can be a real aggravation, especially when you run into technical difficulties.

Are you going to any Christmas parties this year? I've been invited to 8 parties that I think of, just off the top of my head. Don't get me wrong, it's great to be included and to have places to go, and parties are generally fun. Parties also require a great deal of time and energy too. You have to be concerned with what you're going to wear, which may require a shopping excursion or two, not to mention a trip to the hairdresser and/or the dry cleaners. If you have younger children at home, you have to consider a babysitter and food preparation in your absence. Luckily we're beyond the babysitter stage, but we still have to think about what the boys are going to eat when we're not here. We need to teach those boys to cook for themselves!

There's also the host/hostess gift one feels the need to purchase for parties. If you're going to a kids' party and Santa will be there, you can bet your child will be receiving a gift from the bearded guy, which really means you'll need to shell out another $10 (or less) for a gift for each of your kids. And of course you have to take food with you everywhere you go as every event is a potluck. If your children are school aged, you'll probably be needing to purchase teacher gifts and possibly treats for their friends as well. Calgon, take me away!

Do I sound like Scrooge? I suppose I do, but honestly, my giddy up 'n' go has gotten up and went. I need to ask Santa for more energy, an attitude adjustment and a whole lot of Christmas spirit.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Listening to some new tunes

I just got this new CD in the mail and I'm lovin' it! Mark Bishop is a southern gospel singer and a former classmate of mine from Kentucky. I've told you this before, but I'll tell you again... Mark and I went to school together from 1st grade all the way through our senior year in high school, and I'm just so impressed with his talent. Looking for some good Christian music that tells a great story? Visit Mark Bishop Music where you can purchase your very own copy of Mark's latest CD.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving... Maxine style

Thanksgiving is this week, and lest we forget to be truly reflective upon the many blessings in our lives, let's hear what Maxine has to say on the subject...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Relay for Life

My family and I recently participated in our first Relay for Life, an event about which I'd had very limited knowledge. I knew it was held to raise money for the American Cancer Society as we'd previously sponsored friends and family when they'd participated. Relay for Life has an interesting history, as I've come to know, and I wanted to share a little of it with you, along with photos and commentary regarding my own experience.

"Relay For Life is the main volunteer-driven cancer fundraising event of the American Cancer Society. While it originated in the United States, the Relay For Life event is currently held in 21 countries worldwide. Although the main objective of Relay is to raise money for cancer research and cancer patients, the event is held to spread cancer awareness, celebrate the lives of survivors, remember those who lost their lives to cancer, and unite a community in the fight against cancer." ~ Wikipedia

"In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed—running marathons.

In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt's friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course.

...Months later he pulled together a small committee to plan the first team relay event known as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer. In 1986, 19 teams took part in the first team relay event on the track at the colorful, historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000. An indescribable spirit prevailed at the track and in the tents that dotted the infield." ~ American Cancer Society

There's your Relay for Life history lesson for the day. That might have been more than you ever really wanted to know about Relay for Life, but I'm all about learning something new every day, and of course, what's the point in learning about new stuff if you can't share it with someone else, right?

Our little military base here at Naval Station Rota in Spain held its second annual Relay for Life event just a little over a week ago and we were there. I got recruited to join a team of friends with whom I rubber stamp and scrapbook, and in turn, I recruited my family. Since we'd joined the team late in the game, there wasn't a lot of time to raise funds. We sent out emails via the American Cancer Society website asking for donations, and we participated in a team bake sale fundraiser.

I guess I should explain why I even considered participating in Relay for Life from the get-go. Cancer is very prevalent in my family. All three of my now-deceased grandparents had cancer, two of their deaths a direct result of the disease. Two uncles passed away from cancer-related reasons. My dad also lost his battle with cancer just two and a half years ago. There are many more family members and friends who have fought cancer, some winners against this terrible disease, and others who weren't so fortunate.

Here are a few snapshots of Relay for Life 2009 at Naval Station Rota, Spain... The event started with a lap walked by cancer survivors.

The name of our team was "Mary's Benevolent Crew II" and this was the site where we sold slices of pie the night of the event. The theme of Relay for Life was "Happy Birthday," thus the fiesta decor you see here.

My hubby and youngest son put up our tent. Yes, we camped out! The boys slept a little, my hubby got maybe an hour's worth of shut-eye, but I got no sleep. It was a bit noisy for me, even with earplugs. Sleep wound definitely come much later though.

Once it got dark outside, there was a special luminaria ceremony to remember loved ones whose lives were lost due to cancer. These are the luminarias we decorated and lit in remembrance of our family members.

Photos of loved ones were attached to some luminarias, while there were displays of artwork on others. I wrote words that described our loved ones on each luminaria.

My oldest son helped his Boy Scout troop light the luminarias, which lined the center of the track.

Each team represented a different type of cancer, and ours was liver cancer. Here's our informative poster, created by yours truly with a lot of help from the American Cancer Society.

For 12 hours teams walked around the track. A member of each team had to be on the track at all times, therefore our team took turns, one or two people walking for 30 minutes until being relieved. Here's my hubby taking his turn. One guy, a marine no less, walked the entire time, never taking a rest.

Banners and signs such as this one were posted all around the track.

I really liked this banner using handprints to spell out "Relay for Life" and depicting the bull's head inside the ribbon... very Spanish!

There were lots of competitive events going on throughout the night... a best-looking cake contest followed by a cake walk, most team spirit, a one-mile race, etc. My hubby and I represented our team in the Amazing Race and came in second. Here one of our male team members dressed up as a woman and represented our team in "Mr. Relay." Participants walked around the track with a purse collecting donations and the "woman" with the most money at the end won.

Our team entered a hovercraft in the "Race for Cure." Each team had to make a vehicle of some kind in which to race one lap around the track, all the while holding an egg on a spoon. The first team to the finish line without dropping the egg won.

It was cold enough to don winter coats and sit by the fire pit, which is exactly what M did.

Our team sold breakfast burritos at around 5am. The lady in the purple jacket was our team leader.

These folks are our neighbors, and the woman has actually organized Relay for Life here at Rota for the last two years, something she feels very strongly about as she and her husband lost their son to cancer a few years ago. Their involvement in this event has been inspirational for many people.

The thing is, cancer has touched us all in one way or another and I felt the need to do something positive in response. I wanted to do something that would be meaningful and possibly make a difference in someone's life. Relay for Life provided me the opportunity to do just that and I feel blessed to have been a participant.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Techno challenged individual = ME!

I'm technogically challenged. I know that. I accept that. That has been established. My problem is that my computer monitor currently has a blue hue and I don't know how to make it go away. No doubt I'm responsible for pressing some button I shouldn't have, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how to make my screen a "normal" color again. Why do these stupid things have to happen when my husband is away on a trip?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Coming up for air

Has it really been a week since I last posted? Looking back over the last few days, I'm wondering what I've done with my time. Do I have ANYTHING to show for the time that has passed? Let's see...

The hubby got back from his trip just in time for a Cub Scout bake sale that we stayed up very late baking for, only to discover the following morning that it had been cancelled. That's always a great way to start any Saturday morning, don't you think? I don't want to talk about that anymore. Let's move on, shall we?

Both boys had their last soccer games of the season and one team met afterward for a pizza party to celebrate. They were undefeated in that they won every game except one, which resulted in a tie. My other son's team was equally consistent, just in the opposite way... they lost every stinkin' game.

Saturday afternoon we attended the base-wide Michael Jackson "This Is It" premiere. We were there to support our Relay for Life team, which was having a BAKE SALE. Yes, friends, here in Mayberry we have multiple events every weekend. Unfortunately there wasn't a very good crowd for the event, thus our team didn't exactly make a fortune. I had so many cookies and brownies left over. I proceeded to eat them, all of them, one after another, until I came to my senses and took them to my husband's office.

Tuesday I went to an OCSC meeting/bingo. I actually won something, which is such a surprise because I normally walk away empty-handed at these things. I won a set of two crystal wine glasses, which I needed every bit as much as I need a hole in my head. Do you have any idea how many wine glasses we own? Let's just say we have a few.

Tuesday afternoon we had a meeting with our Relay for Life team, where we got the scoop on the many various activities that will take place during the relay. I'm now officially overwhelmed.

Later Tuesday night I went to a friend's scrapbooking party. She's a consultant and I love the product line her company sells. That was a lot of fun, but I was tired and PMSing (Sorry, I know that's probably TMI, but that's the reality of the situation).

I've also had to turn my attention to some Christmas details. My stateside family has been asking for wishlists for our foursome here in Spain. Is it really that time of year already? Seriously? So I carved out some time to do that. I also uploaded photos online and made calendars to send to family for Christmas.

This week has been dedicated to preparing for the Relay for Life event, which starts tomorrow afternoon. I made an informative poster about liver cancer, the type of cancer our team represents. I wasn't aware that each cancer is assigned a specific color, and I'd nearly finished my poster when my hubby asks the question, "Hey, isn't there a certain color you're supposed to use?" I thought about having a temper tantrum (Remember, I'm PMSing and tantrums are to be expected right now), but instead I sucked it up, and re-did the whole doggone thing.

I've also made a cake to enter in some kind of team competition, as well as a pie since our team will be selling slices to raise money. I may never bake again after this week is over.

Our entire family is participating in Relay for Life and we're camping out all night at the event, something I can honestly say I'm not 100% excited about. It's getting cold and I haven't been sleeping well and did I mention I'm PMSing? My reasons for participating in the relay are varied, and I'm committed, but I'm also tired and we're not even there yet.

Oh yeah, in the midst of all that has been going on this week, we managed to take a family photo to send out at Christmas. That was a challenge as we had to wait for the sun to be in the right place in the sky so we could get a good view of the water from our backyard. I can't begin to tell you how ecstatic I am that this is a done deal. The photo has been uploaded to Snapfish and our holiday photo cards have been ordered, something new for us as we usually send out traditional Christmas cards. Next we have to get crackin' on the annual family newsletter. Sigh...

Tomorrow morning we have parent/teacher conferences with both of our boys' teachers. Later we have to pack up everything but the kitchen sink to take to the football field for Relay for Life, set up camp and let the games begin. Oh yeah, we also have a farewell dinner to attend on Saturday night too. I hope we don't fall asleep in our soup.

We have church services, followed by a chapel council meeting for me on Sunday. Monday I'm planning on making lunch for my hubby's office staff. And by the way, the hubby leaves again on Tuesday, returning on Friday afternoon, just in time for the Scout camporee, which lasts all weekend.

Okay, you're all caught up on what's happening with me. What's happening with you? Are you busy and running with your tongue hanging out too? Come on, fill me in. Gotta run... laundry is calling, as usual.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happiness is...

Okay, I was admittedly quite crabby when I was typing my previous post. I'm feeling a little better now, but I'm still not 100% perky. I'm hoping that focusing on the things that make me happy will help bring me back to a truly joyful state of mind. Here goes...

Happiness (for me anyway) is...

1) feeling inspired

2) a clean house (especially when I'm not the one doing the cleaning!)

3) certain smells, such as cinnamon, fresh-baked bread, fresh-cut grass, my favorite Yankee candles, vanilla, baby powder, my husband's cologne.

4) a rare date night with my husband that doesn't include a couple hundred of our closest military friends. No offense to our military friends, but sometimes a girl just wants her hubby all to herself... no shop talk and no sitting across the table from one another making conversation impossible.

5) going to the movies. Popcorn is an added bonus and necessary to enjoy the whole movie experience.

6) online shopping. It's necessary here and I seriously don't know what I'd do without it.

7) gift giving. I love selecting the perfect gift for someone. I would much rather give than receive.

8) surprises. I love being surprised and even more, I love surprising others. It doesn't have to be a major thing either. The surprise can be a bouquet of flowers "just because" or something yummy made at home.

9) receiving mail, both snail mail (Cards, especially handmade ones, and handwritten notes are such wonderful pick-me-ups and are seemingly a dying art) and email (I prefer a personal email to a forwarded one).

10 when people take the time to "clean up" forwarded emails before sending them my way. I so appreciate that!

11) redneck jokes. What can I say? They're part of my heritage.

12) comfort food. I enjoy them a little too much, but sitting down to a good meal made up of my favorite foods is heavenly.

13) coffee with either one good friend or a group of girlfriends.

14) clothes that fit. This one's a huge challenge for me on many levels. Since I want to keep my happy vibe going, I'm not going to elaborate and risk losing it.

15) thoughtfulness.

16) inclusive people.

17) music of all kinds. I'm at my happiest when I'm listening to music that speaks to me.

18) motivation, followed by productivity.

19) creativity. I try to surround myself with creative folks so that I can steal their ideas. I do, however, always give credit where credit is due.

20) curling up with a good book.

21) decorating my house for different occasions. Just wish I had more time.

22) any time spent with people whose company I enjoy.

23) the kids having no homework on the weekends.

24) understanding my 7th grade son's algebra. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I feel like a million bucks.

25) feeling comfortable in my own skin. I'm not always there, but when I am, it's the greatest feeling!

26) when my kids say or do something incredibly thoughtful all on their own, with no prodding or suggestion from my hubby or me.

27) the privilege of being a parent.

28) the knowledge that God loves me, even when I'm a loser.

29) living my life with the men I love... even though I sometimes complain about moving, separations and trials. I wouldn't choose to be anywhere else or with anyone else.

30) knowing I have all I truly ever want or need, and then some. I'm very blessed.

I could go on with my list of things that make me happy, but 30 seemed like a good number at which to stop. Making this list was surprisingly quick and easy, and it was nice to focus on the positive, which isn't a great revelation for me, and probably not for you either. Everyone knows that focusing on the positive can change one's perspective and outlook. I sometimes forget that and need to be reminded. No worries... I'm in my happy place right now. I hope you are too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pet Peeves

Ever feel like you just want to set the world straight on a few things? I must be just plain irritable because everything gets on my nerves this week. Things that normally don't bother me very much are getting under my skin and making me a crabby old lady.

I looked up the definition of crabby, and this is what I found...

crab⋅by  /[krab-ee]
–adjective, -bi⋅er, -bi⋅est.
Informal. grouchy; ill-natured; irritable; peevish.

Yep, that's me alright.

My general crabbiness has caused me to sit down and actually take stock of the things that really tick me off. Instead of feeling guilty about my crabby mood, I'm embracing it today, as a form of self-help. Here's my list of pet peeves, in no particular order...

1) Leaving empty cartons, boxes, containers, etc., in the refrigerator or pantry. Is it REALLY that difficult to throw those things away?

2) Leaving dirty dishes in the sink when the dishwasher is RIGHT THERE! Come on! Work with me people!

3) Leaving clothes in the floor. Are they clean or are they dirty? Figure it out and respond appropriately... hang or fold them and put them away or put them in the hamper.

4) ALWAYS choosing to put clothes in the hamper rather than hanging or folding them because it's easier. Yeah, easier for YOU because YOU aren't the one washing the clothes!

5) Leaving cabinets or drawers open, even if they're only slightly ajar. That makes me crazy. You think I have OCD? In this case, yes!

6) Tailgating is so rude. Go around or BACK OFF, impatient people, or would you rather me slam on my brakes so you can hit me? I'm going the speed limit here in Spain so I don't get ticketed. I'm not Spanish, therefore the rules actually apply to me.

7) Rubbernecking sssslllllooooowwwws (slows) down traffic. Stop being nosy, pay attention to the road and drive, for the love of God! The rest of us have places to be too.

8) Leaving price tags on gifts is TACKY. Seriously, why do I need to know the exact amount you spent on my gift? Is it really a gift or are there strings attached?

9) The incorrect usage of apostrophes makes my eye twitch, to quote a friend of mine. Picky? Yeah, it certainly is, but I really am unable to help myself overcome this major pet peeve of mine.

Apostrophes are used to either stand in place of missing letters whenever two words are joined together (Example: "don't" = "do not") or to show ownership (Example: "spouse's", which is singular, or "spouses'," which is plural).

Ownership is where most people have great difficulty. A word of advice here, if I may be so bold... First determine if the word requiring an apostrophe is singular or plural. Singular means the apostrophe goes BEFORE the "s" and plural means the apostrophe goes AFTER. Now go write it down before you forget it. Go on!

10) Mispronunciations of certain words can make me crazy too, but I'm going to refrain from listing any specific ones here since I'm in a foreign country and have my own issues with pronouncing words. Besides, there are too many to list.

11) The misspelling of words is another serious pet peeve of mine, however, I'm learning to let this one slide because the older I get, the dumber I seem to become, and my spelling is starting to sufer. See? I told you! Okay, I can't help myself. I have to mention just one word... definitely. It's spelled D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y. DEFINITELY! Now go write it down and practice spelling it. You can get this... I know you can!

12) The misuse of words such as "your" and "you're." Do I really need to explain this? Really? Okay... "Your" refers to ownership as in "your car" and "you're" means "you are" (See #9 above).

Other words fall into this category too...

a) they're, their and there (Don't even get me started!)

b) whose and who's (Ditto!)

c) threw and through (Do you OWN a dictionary?)

d) bury and berry (I know, can you believe it?)

e) bought and brought (Yes, there IS a difference!)

I could go on and on, but I won't. Let's move on instead, to round out my baker's dozen of pet peeves...

13) The stacking of kids' sports teams in what is supposed to be a fun league is shameful! What are you trying to prove? Please don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. Admit it. It's obvious to everyone watching the games, so you're really not kidding anyone. Believe it or not, the kids on your team aren't benefiting all that much because they aren't learning new skills when they play against teams that they're able to crush game after game, nor are they learning what it's like to lose, which will eventually happen to them. Make it fair and fun for all. Who's the game for anyway, the kids or you?

There are my top pet peeves for the day. Whew! I feel better getting that off of my chest. Trust me, I could have listed more, but I don't want to totally go overboard and risk losing friendships. In my next post I'll list some of my favorite things, so look for a little more positive me. By the way, what are some of your biggest pet peeves? I've opened the door for you, so come on in and air your gripes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Credit Card Chaos

We use our credit card a great deal. In fact, we use it for nearly every purchase we make and then pay it off every month. I shop online, pay for groceries and gas, buy gifts, and use the credit card to pay for all of it. It's simple and normally works very well for us, except when someone tries to use our credit card, causing our financial institution to shut it down, cancel it and re-issue a new card, which is exactly what's happened, not once, but twice in the last 14 months.

My husband is currently on a business trip for a couple of weeks, and while he can use his government travel card for expenses related to the job, he cannot use it for personal reasons. He's in a location where he has access to some beautiful rugs he could purchase and bring back, only he doesn't have a personal credit card to pay for them.

I nearly embarrassed myself at the commissary when I went grocery shopping and realized at the checkout that I couldn't use the credit card. Luckily I had enough cash in my wallet to cover it. I have another credit card I can use, but I typically don't carry it with me because it's not widely accepted in Europe.

We'd placed an online order for some computer software, but it hadn't come in at the time that our credit card was cancelled. The company with which we placed the order doesn't bill the card until the item is shipped. Now the order can't go through because our financial institution can't and won't charge a credit card that has been cancelled. We'll have to start all over with the ordering process. And I wanted that software like yesterday.

It's great that our financial institution caught this scam in progress and were able to shut down our account before any real damage was done. I know there are people who have had to deal with stolen identity issues for years. I'm grateful we're not among those people.

I'm just hoping our new credit card comes soon as we've made some travel plans this month and really would like to have the ease and convenience of using the card rather than carrying large amounts of cash. As I said before, my personal credit card isn't widely accepted, so I'm not sure it would even be worth carrying along. This whole situation is so frustrating and inconvenient!

Why do people think it's okay to try to take what isn't theirs? The very people responsible for these credit card scams would probably be angry beyond belief if someone were to treat them in the same manner.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cub Scout den leaders are saints!

I took my youngest son to his Cub Scout den meeting last night. Normally this responsibility would fall to my husband, however, he's out of town for a couple of weeks, therefore I get to take M to Scouts while he's away.

Our den is quite large with 11 boys on the roster, and all but one were present for last night's meeting. These 10 boys, some accompanied by younger siblings (because many moms and dads are single parenting this week), can make some serious noise. My head began to throb within minutes of arriving. I had to fight the urge to yell, "SHUT UP!" Can you imagine how that would have gone over? Don't worry, I managed to stay silent, but it was definitely a struggle.

The boys are all sweet kids one on one, but some personalities do not mix well as they feed off of one another's behavior, and before you know it, they're out of control. It was utterly chaotic and I found myself wanting to discipline other parents' kids, parents who were right there and not doing anything about the obnoxious, rude and disrespectful behavior their boys were exhibiting.

Our poor den leader truly deserves credit for even attempting to take on this group of wild boys. Frankly, I'm concerned for his sanity. If it were me, I'd have to resist the urge to drink heavily before AND after den meetings. I told him I was gonna go home and pray for him after the meeting. He needs all the prayers he can get!

All I can think about is the fact that I have to go back to the den meeting next week too. Have mercy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oops... I nearly forgot to show you a few photos taken the last day of my in-laws' visit. Okay, so they left here almost a month ago. I guess I'm a little behind.

We took my in-laws here, to Gonzalez Byass Bodega. I won't show you tons of photos as we've been to this bodega three times now and I've posted photos every time.

We did see something this time that we hadn't seen before and that's the grapes hanging above.

Here my in-laws pose in front of the jumbo-sized Tio Pepe bottle, always a favorite photo opportunity.

I thought this was a nice view.

After the tour we had tapas (the Spanish version of ham, cheese and crackers) and tasted sherry. Well... some of us tasted sherry. Some of us were driving and weren't able to partake.

See who's not partaking? One guess... ME! I suppose I could go on allowing you to believe I was sacrificing tasting the sherry for the sake of my family's enjoyment, however, that wouldn't be the whole truth and nuthin' but the truth. Here's the real scoop... I was taking some medication at the time that didn't interact well with alchol, and (Shhh, don't tell the Spanish!) I don't really like sherry very much.

Upon leaving the bodega we decided to walk around Jerez for a little while. I always see this scene a little differently every time I visit, therefore I must take a photo each time. The statue is a likeness of the man who founded Gonzalez Byass Bodega and the structure in the background is a cathedral.

We ended up stopping for a late lunch here.

This gentleman entertained us as we ate and people watched.

Poor angel! I wonder how many times a bird has pooped on her head?

This dude and his horse have been dumped on a few times as well.

I'm not sure what the significance of this structure is, but I thought it was pretty. And you know what I do when I think something's pretty... I take a photo of it!

I believe my hubby's parents enjoyed their visit to Spain. We stayed in the local area, but showed them some interesting sights and embraced the culture. They left us for Paris where they had a wonderful time. Now I'm wondering who will be next on our list of visitors. Hmmm....