Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kitty Cat Woes

Puzzled as to what this might be? I'll save you the time and trouble of guessing. These are cat prints on my car, a very common occurrence here. By the way, we don't own a cat.

This particular morning the cat prints are visible from one end of the car to the other....

Yep, across the trunk, up the back window, over the top of the car, down the front window and across the hood were cat prints...
Luckily cat prints were all we found. We have friends here with cat prints as well as some very distinct scratches on their new car. These same friends have issues with a neighbor's cat that "sprays" practically everything in their back yard. How nice is that?

We're not sure if there is one particular cat roosting under our carport on top of our car. There are many wild cats that roam the area, but there's also one domestic cat with a collar that comes to visit on a regular basis. So far we've refrained from setting up surveillance cameras to find the guilty party responsible for cat prints on our vehicle, but the minute we find scratches, we may find ourselves out shopping for the necessary equipment to make that happen.

You know, I like animals... I really do! I just don't like them on my car, or prefer them making nasty messes around my house. If that's mean and particular, so be it. If you don't mind cat spray at your house, that's certainly your prerogative, but I seriously don't care for that, nor do my poor friends. I believe I can speak for them in saying that they'd prefer your kitty spray at your house, not theirs. Some things aren't meant to be shared with neighbors, and I believe cat spraying falls into that category.

Although we currently do not own any pets, we've been pet owners in the past, and will be again one day. We would never go out of our way to provoke, taunt or injure an animal. Cruelty to animals is not our game. Please know that and take me at my word. I assure you, your sweet, precious Fluffy is in no danger at my house. No matter how many times we find cat prints on our car, we would never take any kind of action against the culprit, but that doesn't mean we don't think about it. *wink

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Do you remember Schoolhouse Rock!? For those of you who are scratching your heads and wondering what on earth I'm talking about, allow me to clue you in...

Schoolhouse Rock! is a series of animated musical educational mini-films that used to air during the Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s and 80s. There were a myriad of topics covered including grammar, science, economics, history, math and even politics.

We've been seeing Schoolhouse Rock! here from time to time and the boys have gotten a big kick out of it. They can't believe my hubby and I are familiar with the songs. It's funny how the lyrics came back to us after so many years.

Here's the latest Schoolhouse Rock! mini-film we've seen. (Remember to stop my music on the sidebar before clicking on the video below or you'll just hear a whole lot of racket and be really irritated with me.) Let me know if you remember seeing this on TV. Did you sing along? By the way, I'm sorry if this song is now in your head for the next 24-48 hours.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Land Mine

Can you guess what's pictured here?
How about here?
And here?
Yep, you guessed correctly each time... DOGGIE DOO!

Why am I showing you photos of dog poop? I just wanted to give you an idea of the land mine through which we frequently navigate to and from Spanish class five days a week. Lovely, ain't it? There are lots of things to love about Spain, but this certainly fails to impress me. I don't understand why people don't use pooper scoopers here. I'm sorry, but there simply isn't one single solitary good reason anyone could give me that would excuse dog poop on the sidewalk... NOT ONE!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Trouble Tree

I received the following in an email this week, and I believe it came at a great time for me. Everything is fine, but occasionally I need to be reminded of what's important and who's in charge. So thanks to the person who sent this my way... it was a blessing. Maybe it'll be a blessing to you as well...

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start.

While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching tips of the branches with both hands.

When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

“Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.

"Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there ain't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."

I don’t know who first told this story – no one seems to know – but he or she must have been a very wise person. Putting boundaries around our problems is a really good idea – it prevents our difficulties from spilling over onto other people (especially loved ones), who can’t do anything about our problems. Why burden them if they can’t help us?

So, plant yourself a trouble tree outside your front door -- or a potted trouble plant, if you live in an apartment – and use it whenever you come home.

Be grateful that you have loved ones to go home to, even if your loved one is simply your beloved dog or cherished cat or prized goldfish.

And when you pick up your troubles on the way out each morning, be grateful that they’re not as heavy as they were the night before.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A nosotros nos gusta conducir nuestro coche en España!

Translation = We like driving our car in Spain!

I know I really like driving our car in Spain. In case you hadn't noticed in photos from previous posts, the streets are quite narrow and parking is a challenge, even in the larger parking lots. Some vehicles, such as our beloved Yukon XL, just aren't conducive to navigating around the local towns, thus we purchased a smaller vehicle a few months ago so that we could eliminate that problem.

We didn't have our hearts set on any particular type of car, however, there was one that caught our eye. It was available, it was surprisingly roomy (We're tall, so we have to have leg room!), it was a pretty good deal, we were able to communicate with the English-speaking salesperson (Very important!) and we really had fun on the test drive, so... we bought it!

Allow me to introduce you to our car...... a 2007 BMW 335xi, a dealer demo never previously owned.
Do I know how to operate the many gadgets on our car? Heavens no! Will I learn how to operate them? Probably not. But do I like driving this car? You know it!

This car is incredibly comfortable. Hello! It has heated seats! Whoever thought to install heated seats in a car was a genious, I tell you! I love the fact that I can navigate the narrow streets and park almost anywhere (There are still places I won't attempt to park here!). It's a smooth ride and I like that it's a standard because our boys will be learning to drive in the not-so-distant future and I think it's important to learn how to drive a stick shift. Our car is also a good-looking piece of machinery, which is also nice. Oh yeah, just one more minor detail... This car has some POWER! Of course we can't open 'er up on base, but when we get 'er off base where it's legal, we're not letting any grass grow under us.

I'm thinking of naming the car because I like it so much. Since "el coche" (the car) is considered a "masculine" noun in Spanish, I suppose I need to think of an appropriate masculine name. Although it's not a Spanish-made vehicle, I'm leaning toward a Spanish name because we live in Spain. Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MAF = Mission Aviation Fellowship

Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness.”

This scripture is the intensely expressed desire and vision of our friends Dave and Vanessa Peters. This very special couple is training to become Christian missionaries through Mission Aviation Fellowship. Admittedly I was not aware of this mission prior to our friends' involvement, but have since learned more about what MAF does.
Here's the MAF mission statement....

"Our passion is to see individuals, communities, and nations transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We promote this transformation by positioning Christ-centered staff in strategic locations worldwide utilizing aviation, communications, learning technologies, other appropriate technologies and related services. In accomplishing our mission, we collaborate with churches, subsidiaries, partners, and networks."

More impressive info regarding MAF...

"In its global efforts to overcome barriers, MAF operates the world's largest fleet of private aircraft used for the public good.

In fiscal year 2008, the MAF fleet of 55 aircraft executed 36,831 flights, logged 2.7million miles, transported 120,343 passengers, and delivered 10.3 million pounds of cargo all on 1,700 rough, unimproved dirt and grass airstrips as well as waterways.

These flights support Christian workers, evangelists, teachers, medical personnel, as well as relief and development workers. MAF planes haul food, seed, and livestock; transport the sick and injured; deliver doctors, medicine, and relief supplies; and carry the materials for a better life to people who need it most-people others cannot reach."

Here's the entire Peters Family. We met these folks when we were stationed together in Dover, DE. Dave has served his country as an Air Force pilot and Vanessa as a military spouse before answering the call to serve with MAF. Now Dave, Vanessa and their children are all preparing for their first missionary assignment. They have yet to find out the precise location of their assignment, but they do know it will be somewhere in Indonesia.

I'm simply in awe. I think it takes very unique, special people to answer God's call in such a profound way. I'm honored to know this family and I very much look forward to hearing more about their experiences as new missionaries.

If you would like to know more about MAF, you can visit the website here. If you would specifically like to know more about the Peters Family, click here.

Should you feel led, please pray for the Peters Family as they continue to seek God's will and spread His word.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Did you hear me? Did you hear me?

We were getting ready to leave the house on Friday morning for Spanish class when a base worker arrived to do some painting outside. My husband answered the door while I hurriedly finished putting on my face in the bathroom. I overheard the entire conversation, which was short and sweet, but a conversation nonetheless.

Basically the workman and my husband exchanged greetings and then the workman told my husband what he was here to do. My husband explained that we were going to school and pointed out the areas that needed painting.

The workman went to get his supplies and my husband rushed back to the bathroom, wide-eyed and excited.

He said, "Did you hear me? Did you hear me? I said a whole sentence and he understood me!"

You totally had to be there, but let me tell you, my hubby was so cute! He was so proud of his newly acquired Spanish language skills. Yep, we're actually learning and it's paying off already.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Interesting Flowers

These flowers are growing in our yard at the base of one of the palm trees. I'd never seen flowers like these prior to moving here. There were only a few these when we first arrived, but they've started to spread and are really quite pretty.

I don't know if they're some kind of daisy, but that's what they appear to be. They have white petals with purple centers, and they're lavendar on the underside.

I spied a critter on this flower and managed to snap a quick photo before it flew away...

This is one of the blooms.

See the flowers now? They "close up" in the late afternoon/early evening, and they don't "open" again until the next morning. Need a closer view? Check it out... I'd love to have a whole garden of these beautiful flowers!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rednecks ARE universal!

This, my friends, is a coat/hat rack in a local restaurant, one that primarily serves Chinese and Tai food. So... it's an Asian establishment in a Spanish city, but from the looks of the décor, this restaurant could very well be located in, say, the southern part of the United States (a.k.a. "The South"). Hey, I'm not looking to offend anyone here. I'm a southerner! Seriously... I'm 100% convinced I could fine several of these babies within a 50 mile radius of my hometown in Kentucky. I'm just sayin'...

Monday, March 9, 2009


Apparently a fire pit is a must for outdoor gatherings here, as seemingly all of our neighbors have one. We've had a small chimenea for a few years, very similar to this one... ... but it's wimpy compared to the neighbors' fire pits, so of course we ran to the NEX and bought ourselves the last one on the shelves. Yes, I know, it's like keeping up with the Joneses, only in our case we're keeping up with not only the Joneses, but the Smiths, the Scotts, the Grapes... You see where this is going? So now we have our very own fire pit.

I love sitting by a fire, don't you? There's something so cozy, comfortable and mesmerizing about a fire. I'm drawn to them, and our children are too, but for different reasons.

Our boys like to burn things. Is that normal? They run around the house, inside and out, searching for things to burn. I'm wondering if we're raising a couple of pyromaniacs.

"Mom, I never wear this shirt anymore. Can I burn it?"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

We've come a long way, baby!

The hubby and I have one week of Spanish under our belts and we've been thinking we're pretty dadgum smart. Basically we now know how to say our names, greet someone, conjugate a few irregular verbs as well as a whole bunch of regular verbs, say the Spanish alphabet, count to 100, and write in simple sentences. We've learned lots of vocabulary too, and like I've said before, every little bit of Spanish instruction we've previously had is coming in extremely handy.

On Friday our instructor gave us homework to complete over the weekend. The assignment included some relatively simple exercises where we had to choose the correct verb form in a group of sentences and then match up subjects and predicates to a different group of sentences. It wasn't long before I'd finished the exercises and found myself feeling quite confident in my work.

The other half of our homework wasn't as easy, but I was sure I could zip through it with no problem. We were given information about which to write a short paragraph. Wow! I couldn't believe how far we'd come in just a week's time! We must really be picking this stuff up quickly... or so I thought.

The information for my paragraph consisted of three key words ~ Pepe, taxista y Madrid (Joe, taxi driver, and Madrid). I really want to learn how to form the sentences myself, without the aid of the computer translator, but what I've rapidly discovered is that we've only touched on the whole verb conjugation thing. We've just learned the present tense form of verbs thus far, which means we still have to figure out the past and future tenses, as well as determine which verbs are regular and which are irregular. Okay, I'm not feeling as sure of myself now. In fact, my confidence level has taken a significant hit. We've come a long way, baby... but we've also got a long way to go!

Now back to the Spanish paragraph, my special seat and the hat I wear so well...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Learning Spanish

My husband and I started a Spanish class this week. Oh, you're not fooling me! I know what you're thinking... "Of all the fun things they could possibly have chosen to do, why on earth would they choose to take Spanish classes?" Tell me I'm wrong!

We've found ourselves feeling awkward and more than a little uncomfortable in Spanish social settings because we can't understand a word people are saying! It's not that they never speak English, because they do, which is incredibly generous on their part. It's just that when they're speaking to one another, they totally fall into their native Spanish, which is completely understandable. So what are they saying? I haven't a clue and that's tough for someone like me. I need to know what's being said. What if they're talkin' smack about me? I'd wanna know, wouldn't you?

Seriously, I want to be able to follow conversations better and have the ability to converse with the Spanish in their native tongue. After all, we are in their country. I realize I'm not going to become fluent anytime soon, but if I could just carry on a simple conversation, I'd feel on top of the world.

There are only three students in our class... a Navy guy, my husband and me. We're in class approximately three and a half hours per day, five days per week for six weeks. Our instructor is very warm and friendly, and quite possibly the most patient person on the planet. Can you imagine teaching Spanish to three knuckleheads who really don't know which end is up? She's awesome!

As a result of the small, intimate number of students in this class, there's a lot of interaction between each of us and the instructor, which in turn helps us learn quicker, or at least I'd like to think so. I have to pay very close attention because the pace at which our class moves really keeps me on my toes. Instruction is probably 95% Spanish, which of course means our teacher speaks to us in English only 5% of the time. I never would have dreamed I could comprehend anything in a setting such as this, but it's actually starting to click. I'm learning!

What drives me crazy about Spanish is that most words have a feminine and masculine quality/connotation assigned to them. Why? Why? Why? And guess what? There are "exceptions to the rule" in Spanish, just like in English. And here I'd been thinking Spanish made more sense because it had steadfast, cut and dried rules. Um... no, that's not always the case.

And then there are the verb conjugations... ¡El cielo, me ayuda! (Translation = "Heaven, help me!") I wake in the middle of the night conjugating verbs. I was commenting about this very thing to the language school director and he said that was good because it meant my brain was thinking as I was sleeping, putting things in my "Spanish memory bank." That's great... really, really great... but I wish my brain would work a little more silently and allow me to rest at the same time.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I only wanted a trim

I want to allow my hair to grow out a bit, but my bangs were getting long and hanging in my eyes, which totally gets on my nerves as it's often very humid here. It's so not a good look for me, therefore...

I got my haircut yesterday, an event I used to really look forward to and thoroughly enjoy before moving to Spain. Here it's a little different situation. There's definitely a language barrier in that I don't speak Spanish and the hairdressers don't really speak much English either. The thing is... they're pretty much the only game on base.

I enjoyed having someone else wash my hair (Isn't that the most wonderful feeling?), but the cut and style are another story. I'm apparently unable to make myself understood. I only asked for a trim and my hair is easily an inch and a half to two inches shorter, not at all the look I was going for. And the style? Hmmm... very outdated and I left rather resembling a bird. Yeah, I know it's only hair and it'll grow back, but I'm struggling to find my happy place once again. You know how we women are when it comes to our hair!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Furniture Polish vs. Air Freshener

I went to a baby shower on Saturday and had to leave the boys alone for a while since my hubby was out of town. No problema as my oldest is quite capable of taking care of himself and his brother in my absence. As I was departing the house, I told the boys they could earn some extra cash if they were interested in doing some dusting and vacuuming while I was gone.

Now... I didn't really expect to come home to a clean house. To be perfectly honest, I didn't expect to find the boys doing anything other than playing Wii, a computer game, or perhaps watching a movie.

I was wrong.

My oldest, who loves extra cash, had actually heard what I suggested and decided to get busy. He dusted some of the furniture, albeit not as thoroughly as I would have liked, however, I've never really given him a complete tutorial, so I'll cut him some slack on the quality of his work. He tried.

What I didn't realize, until much later, was that my son used air freshener instead of furniture polish. No wonder the furniture still looked "cloudy" afterward.