Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dad's the Gift

The following article made front page news in "Stars and Stripes" today and I wanted to share it with you. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all military kids received a birthday gift as special as Gabriel Hurles'? Read on...

The youngster was so engrossed in the cupcakes his mother brought to his class on Wednesday that he didn't notice the enormous wrapped box off to the side.

"That's one big, giant present," a six-year-old classmate told him. "See what you got, Gabriel."

Gabriel peeled back the wrapping paper to find the surprise of his young life – his father, an Army mechanic back in Nevada on leave from his second tour in Iraq, the Nevada Appeal reported.

"It's my dad!" he announced to his classmates at Sutro Elementary School in Dayton, near Carson City. "Hi, Daddy."

Army Spc Casey Hurles, 23, hadn't seen his son since he left in June. When he learned his leave would coincide with his son's birthday, he hatched a plan to hide out in the big box.

"It was such a rush of emotion," said Hurles, who said he got butterflies in his stomach while waiting in the box.

After Hurles sat down and ate a cupcake with the birthday boy, teacher Dawn VanSickle presented him with a banner from the class that read, "Welcome Home. Thank you for your service."

VanSickle said she was happy to arrange the reunion in her classroom.

"One of the first things (Gabriel) shared about himself was that his dad was in Iraq and that he was waiting for his dad to come home," she said. "He talks about his dad all the time."

Hurles, who joined the Army four years ago, is a mechanic in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. He completed one tour in Iraq and is seven months into his second tour. He expects to finish sometime this summer.

Gabriel said he looks forward to playing with his dad over the next two weeks but understands why he has to leave again.

"He has to work," Gabriel said. "He works in the war."

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Spanish Baby

One of my new girlfriends here is pregnant, due to have her baby in just a couple of months or so. She and her husband already have two girls and are expecting a boy this time around. How exciting!

My friend was having a conversation with her oldest daughter (a 2nd-grader) when the child blurted out, "I wonder what it'll be like having a Spanish brother!"


My girlfriend had to explain that just because they live in Spain, doesn't mean her baby brother will be Spanish. He'll be an American, just like the rest of the family.

Then my friend's daughter says, "Will he be able to speak Spanish?"

Well, I guess we'll all have to wait and see, won't we?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Valentine Treats

As discussed in a previous post, Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and I'm making preparations. While I still don't know what I'm giving my hubby (besides the Smilebox slideshow I shared with you), I do know which valentines my kids are giving their classmates. I also have some ideas for treats to give to friends and neighbors. Hey, I know Valentine's Day is still more than two weeks away, but when you live in Spain and your options are slim, you have to plan ahead! Thanks to Current Catalog, I'm on my way to being ready for the upcoming holiday.

Interested in seeing what I'm working on? I'll show you...

These are the valentines my boys will be giving to their friends at school. Have you ever noticed that there are seemingly lots of cute valentines that are "girly" in nature, but not as many that appeal to boys? It's always a challenge to find appropriate valentines the boys actually like. The guitar valentines work very well for them this year since they're so obsessed with Guitar Hero. The kit includes an adhesive foam dot that "closes" the guitar, leaving a space to slide a mini Hershey bar. The only thing I would recommend, however, is using a small piece of double-sided tape to adhere the candy bar to the inside of the guitar, otherwise it tends to fall out, and you want these suckers to make it to school intact, right?

Here are some of the other really cute, unique valentines I found online at

Aren't these adorable? I would give these to girlfriends, but my boys wouldn't be caught dead giving these to ANYBODY!

These puzzle cards are pretty cute too. The front is a heart design, and on the back the sender writes a message on them, then separates the pieces and puts them in the envelope. The recipient has to put together the puzzle to determine the message inside. These could easily be made at home, don't you think? But at the low, low price of 12 for $3.99, and the fact that I wouldn't have to do this myself, it seems like quite a bargain.

These are fortune teller valentines. Remember making these as a kid? No? Okay, I guess I'm ancient because I certainly remember making them. Anyway... they're cute, but once again, they're fairly "girly."

Of course if you're feeling generous, you can give regular-sized Hershey bars and cover them in these cute valentine wrappers. There are a couple of wrapper designs from which to choose. By the way, I like the dark chocolate Hershey bars, in case you're wondering.

I actually bought these to give friends. Yes, I occasionally give out valentines. What's wrong with that? Is there an age limit on valentine giving? I think not. I've already started putting these babies together.

The kit includes 12 gift tags
and 90 mini candy bar wrappers, which are stickers, therefore they easily adhere to the candy bars.

Naturally I had to purchase the candy bars (Thankfully they're easily found here!) and use my own baggies (I had some on hand, but they can be found at places like Wal-Mart or AC Moore) and ribbon.

As you can see, there are five wrapper designs.

No worries... I'll show you close-ups of each.

Here are the various ribbons choices I had on hand. I have no idea where one would go to purchase ribbon in Spain, but then I haven't needed any, therefore I haven't looked around. Of course there's ALWAYS my favorite method of purchasing most anything... the internet!

Here's my finished product. You can choose to add more candy, but I decided to divide the 90 wrappers by the 12 gift tags, giving me 7 pieces per bag with 6 pieces left over for me to devour. You didn't really think I was going to buy all that candy and give every single piece away, did you? Get real! You obviously don't know me very well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Hello, my name is Marva and I'm a "24" addict. Honestly, there really should be a support group out there for people like me. I LOVE this show! "24" is in its 7th season, but the funny thing is, I had never previously watched it until a few months ago when friends loaned us three seasons of "24" on DVD. My husband and I literally had "24" marathons, watching back-to-back episodes, night after night once our kids went to bed. We'd wake up exhausted the next day due to lack of sleep, but we were hooked and couldn't help ourselves.

The new "24" season has started after a year-long hiatus due to a Writer's Guild strike. Thankfully the show airs on AFN (Armed Forced Network) or we'd be seriously looking into getting ourselves a slingbox.

Kiefer Sutherland is the lead actor in the role of Jack Bauer, counter-terrorism agent. Each episode unfolds in real time, covering one day in the life of Jack Bauer, thus the name of the show... "24." Bauer deals with some bad characters involving assassination attempts, nuclear attacks, torture, sleeper cells, etc. Poor Jack has a hard time keeping love alive as a result of the life he leads. He doesn't really have many friends either, which is understandable, 'cause let's face it... people tend to die when Jack's around.

I'm not much of a TV viewer these days due to the fact that AFN is seriously lacking in interesting shows. They do the best they can, I'm sure, and they do offer some great movies and awesome commercials, but primetime TV doesn't normally cut it for me. Ah... but now there's "24" (and American Idol) and I'm cuttin' AFN some slack. We tend to view U.S. primetime TV shows a day later, and for us, "24" currently airs on Tuesday nights.

I can hardly wait 'til later tonight when I hear the voice of Jack Bauer saying, "Previously... on 24!" Bring it on!

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm obsessed!

I have a new obsession, as if I don't have enough already. I love the many, many different styles of windows and doors here in Spain. Why am I obsessed with these kinds of things? I'm sure I don't know, but I suppose there are worse things to be obsessed with, right? This seems like a fairly harmless obsession. It's not like I want to break in anyone's door or window. I just think they're unique and interesting. Wanna see a few? Maybe you'll become obsessed with them too.

I think this might be my favorite window so far. I love the flower box, don't you?

I think the Spanish tile is absolutely gorgeous! This is my girlfriend's door, and no, she doesn't live in base housing. Big surprise!

I like the tile around this window too, but the carnations are the really big splash for me. I don't think I've ever seen carnations growing like this.

Do you see why these beautiful windows and doors appeal to me or do you think I should seek help for my obsession? There's probably a support group for people like me out there somewhere!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Creativity Corner

I'm not overly creative, but I do love a creative outlet. I particularly enjoy rubber stamping and scrapbooking, among many other "crafty" hobbies. Hey, a mom's gotta have a few of her own extracurricular activities. We can't survive on cooking, cleaning and chauffering alone!

Our base house is small, but it's bigger than most, so you won't hear me complaining about the size. Okay, you won't hear me complaining VERY OFTEN about the size. We have a room that most people use as an office and it also contains a closet that everyone uses as a pantry, so this room serves a couple of purposes. We've decided to use it as a pantry/craft room for me. Just last weekend I organized all the supplies I could possibly fit into this small space. The rest of my stash is in bins under our bed.

This is my work space... a portable dropleaf table on wheels. On that table are my pens/pencils, stamp pads, idea books, etc. I also have some of my single rubber stamps on the adjustable shelves on the wall. I managed to squeeze a floor lamp in this room since the overhead light isn't quite bright enough.

Here are the rest of my single stamps hanging on the opposite wall. What I mean by "single" stamps is that these are individual stamps I've purchased over the years that don't belong to any kind of set. On top of the stamp shelving units is a blank display board that I normally use to mount cards and other creative paper crafts that inspire me and give me ideas for future projects. The piece of furniture under the stamps is an old dresser that belonged to my husband when he was growing up. It makes a great supply cabinet! On top I have boxes of older photos I plan on eventually putting in scrapbooks, plastic bins with photos, paper and stickers of projects already in the works, and a filing tray for holding items that need to be organized. And of course to the right of all of this is our extra shelving unit for grocery items that won't go into the pantry.

This is just a little closer view.

I bought this wall hanging for my new space, for even though the room isn't "big enough to whip a cat in" (A phrase used most often from my childhood, and no, we never whipped cats), it's just right for me. "LIFE IS GOOD" reminds me that life really is good and that I have much for which to be thankful. Now let's hope the creativity will begin to flow!