Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mr. Jangles, we love you!

Why am I showing you a photo of a baby toy? Well, it's a very special toy for a very special someone.

This is Miss B. She's my niece. Remember her? Isn't she adorable?

I ordered Miss B some Discovery Toys for Christmas and "Jangles" was among them. Little did I know that it would turn out to be a favorite companion. My mom babysits for my brother and sister-in-law and she often tells me that "Mr. Jangles," the name they have affectionately given the toy, accompanies Miss B wherever she goes.

Why is this special toy such a big deal to me? Well... I haven't met Miss B face to face yet, as she lives in Kentucky and I live in Spain. I'm missing out on so much of Miss B's life and I can hardly wait to see her. It just warms my heart to know she loves the toy I sent her, like maybe in some small way we're connected even though we haven't met. I might just have to buy myself a "Mr. Jangles" so I can feel ever closer to this sweet baby girl.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cub Scout Campout

Our youngest son camped out with the Cub Scouts over the weekend. He would have Daddy all to himself too. It's rare to spend time alone with Daddy, so the little man was psyched.

Our oldest, now a Boy Scout, wasn't part of the festivities, however, he accompanied me on a visit to the campground when I dropped off a few supplies. He strutted around the campsite when we first arrived and I heard him say, "Ah... Cub Scouts brings back memories," as if it had been years ago. I had to laugh as he left Cub Scouts to bridge to Boy Scouts only a year ago!

I think my oldest was prepared to be totally disinterested in the campout because he's older now, and there were all these younger boys walking around. Quite the opposite occurred! I think he felt like the big shot Boy Scout as he was having a blast with the younger boys. (He's the one wearing the mask below.)

As it turned out, he wanted to stay the night, however, we had already loaned out our remaining sleeping bags, and I really thought my husband should spend some alone time with the little man, so the big shot Boy Scout eventually came home with me.

We did stay for a while though, long enough to enjoy the campfire and skits as well as a short devotion by one of the base chaplains. The chaplain talked about how we don't have to afraid of anything because God is always with us, no matter what. It's always hard to tell if kids are really listening, isn't it? They fidget and whisper and act like they're completely daydreaming. I'm sure the chaplain wondered if anyone heard a word he'd said.

The weather took a turn during the night and it proceeded to pour rain on our campers. They were dry inside the tent, but the next morning, my husband asked our youngest son if he'd slept well during the night. He said, "The rain woke me up and I was scared, but then I remembered that God is always with me. I wasn't scared anymore and I went back to sleep."

Sounds like somebody was listening after all, huh?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Semana Santa

Semana Santa is Holy Week here in Spain. It begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday. Seemingly every Spanish city, large and small, celebrates all week with parades called processions. The processions are a little different each day of the week.

Religious fraternities and brotherhoods called Cofradías process in penitence through the streets of the city. I understand these folks have the responsibility of maintaining the statues as well as coordinating the penitents and musicians. Some carry candles, rods or banners depending on their level of seniority. The most senior is the president who carries a golden rod.

Each procession usually has two floats, one of the Virgin Mary and the other depicting a scene from the last days in the life of Christ. It takes a lot of people to carry these incredibly ornate floats. There are up to forty men, called costaleros, who haul one float on their shoulders and they are directed by an overseer who ensures that the float is carried with maximum seriousness, grace and tradition.

Some of the procession participants walk barefoot, which I can hardly imagine, as some of these events can last as long as 12-14 hours. My feet ache just thinking about it! Many participants are hooded in order to protect the anonymity of the sinners seeking forgiveness. The pointy hoods and long robes reminded us of the Ku Klux Klan, however, we are told the two groups are completely unrelated.

We saw two processions during Semana Santa, one here in Rota, and the other in Sevilla. I'll share some photos from each event with you...

Street vendors sold balloons, trinkets and candies to the crowds.

The procession begins in Rota.

See the wax dripping from this huge candle? The streets are later coated with the stuff, so afterward it's pretty easy to tell which route the procession took.

Candles are quite the fascination for youngsters in the crowd as they collect the dripping wax to see who can form the largest ball of wax.

These women process all dressed in mourning.

How would you like walking in those pumps? I can't decide which would be more uncomfortable... walking in pumps or walking barefoot. Glad I didn't have to make that choice.

Even children participate in the processions.

We were unable to get a good photo of this float due to the crowding of people around us. It appeared to be Mary holding Jesus after the crucifixion.

The remaining photos were taken during Sevilla's procession on Saturday, the day before Easter...

The guys in the white tank tops are evidently taking a break from carrying one of the floats, thus the cell phone and cigarette. I found it hard to believe that they would simply walk right through the middle of the procession though. We saw lots of that all day long. It's very different from most parades I've ever seen, where people are prevented from crossing parade lines.

This float depicts Jesus carrying the cross.

This is a little closer view of the same float.

Every parade needs a little music, right?

This float shows Jesus hanging on the cross.

Pretty realistic, isn't it?

Another different view of the same float. Every angle has a unique view. This one shows Mary mourning Jesus' death.

The boys got a little bored during the processions as they're very slow, difficult to see, and let's face it, probably not that exciting for kids. We allowed them to go to the card store and purchase some Yu-Gi-Oh cards and they were happy campers. Would you call that bribery? Yeah, it was, but it worked and we were all able to enjoy the rest of our time in Sevilla.

This float depicts Mary holding Jesus after the crucifixion. This one was particularly moving to me.

Look at the detail!

The Virgin Mary

I have so many more photos, but these do a decent job of capturing the essence of Semana Santa. We truly enjoyed ourselves. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Spain during Holy Week, take in at least one of the processions. What a wonderfully rich cultural experience!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Guess what time it is?

Hmmm... I'm having a little difficulty telling the time. Perhaps I need a closer look at my watch... Ah, now I know what time it is... time to get a new watch!

I dropped my watch on the hard tiled floors in our house. The result? The watch still runs, but some of the numbers have "detached" from the face. Nice!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Carport or birdcage?

I know I've discussed the critter situation around here quite a bit. We have tree rats and feral cats running amok. We have other people's dogs doing their business on our lawn. Now it seems our carport has become home for one specific bird. I don't get it... It's like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom around here!

We noticed this bird flying around the carport a week or so ago. It's a pretty bird. Here, you can see for yourself...

The bird acts like it wants inside the storage room, but there's a door leading into that room with a glass window on the door and above it, thus there's no way the bird can get inside unless the door is standing wide open. It's like the bird is confused because it can't get in. It continually hits the glass and flaps its wings like crazy. We can't find a nest anywhere, so I don't know why the bird is so keen on our house.

What we've now begun to notice is that this bird is pooping everywhere! On the door...

... on the car...

... and all over the floor! It's like the carport has become the newspaper that lines a big giant birdcage.

Every time I go outside via the door leading out to the carport, I'm watching for this bird out of the corner of my eye because it just comes out of nowhere, swooping and diving and flapping and... pooping. Anyone got any bright ideas of how to get this bird out of my carport?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Dining Out"... it's probably not what you think

Okay, if you're one of those military types, like us, you understand the meaning behind the term "dining out." If you're not one of those military types, you may have no earthly idea what I'm talking about. Please allow me to briefly fill you in...

Yes, "dining out" (verb) can mean just what it implies... dining outside your home.

A "dining out" (noun), however, is more of a social event where dining does take place, but there are lots of other details that one must take into account when attending one of these special military events.

Dining outs are a long-standing military tradition, dating back to early Roman times when commanders often held great banquets to honor individuals and units. This tradition has continued through the years and is alive and well today among our own U.S. military forces.

Dining outs allow for military members to bring along their significant others (Sidebar: There is also an event called a "dining in," which is solely for military members). The event is always formal and involves lots of foolishness and merriment, not to mention the consumption of massive amounts of alcohol for some people. There are rules of engagement one must follow lest one can and will be sent to the "grog" to drink a most foul "punch."

We attended a dining out on Friday night and had a great time. It was held off base at hotel called the Playa de la Luz, located on the beach in Rota. This is the view from the hotel. It was a bit rainy that night, so it wasn't the best for taking photos, but still... it's on the beach!

The evening got off to an interesting start as a whole tray of drinks was dropped right in front of a group of us standing around talking. Needless to say, some of us were a little wet and sticky for the rest of the night, which is such a comfortable way to spend any evening... NOT!

This guy was obviously playing the bagpipes and I thought he was very cute.

There were two long tables like this one for guests.

At the front of the room there was a head table for distinguished guests...

... and at the back of the room there was a small table where two people kept watch over the grog, which is pictured here. There are typically two grog bowls... one alcoholic and the other non-alocholic, but both fairly disgusting in taste. Hey, I don't make the rules. It's tradition! Oh, and yes, I know these are toilet bowls. I did mention the words foul and disgusting, did I not?

Dinner was pretty good, but not spectacular, which is seemingly most often the case at these types of events. Maybe I'm just picky. I had chicken and my hubby had beef. After trying one another's main course, I quickly decided I was glad I'd gotten the chicken. I enjoyed the lemon sherbet with a hint of champagne, which was served between courses to "cleanse the palate." Dessert, pictured below, consisted of vanilla ice cream with hot chocolate sauce, and that was good too. You know I rarely pass up an opportunity to eat chocolate.

Of course because we're Air Force folks stationed at a Navy base, we correctly predicted that those wearing the Air Force uniform would certainly be required to make multiple trips to the grog. Here they are singing the Air Force song, as requested...

Entertainment came in many forms... throwing of bread (a common occurrence during a dining out), video clips, trips to the grog and shooting of Nerf guns (proof positive found below)

Some of the Air Force guys, my hubby included, performed a live skit. They poked a little good-natured fun at the Navy leadership. Here's my hubby playing his role... I thought it was a funny skit. Okay, you had to be there, but trust me, it was funny.

We forgot to ask someone to take a photo of my hubby and me together, nor did I pose for any solo photos. It's almost as if I were never there! Obviously I'm more comfortable behind the camera. Of course I have lots more photos of other people, but some are incriminating and I don't want anyone hunting me down with the intent to inflict bodily harm, so let's just leave it at that.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Momma needs a new pair of shoes... or two!

I've needed some new shoes for a while now. I hate shopping for shoes for three reasons....

#1) I've had surgery on one foot, and now I have a touch of arthritis, which means I can't wear just any kind of shoe. It's got to be a decent shoe (Translation = Expensive) with good support and a relatively low heel. I'm all about comfort these days. Good grief, do I sound old or what?

#2) Attractive shoes in my size (10 or 11, depending on how they're made) are difficult to find. Most look like "granny shoes" or something one might wear into combat. Even if I can't wear the cute strappy, high-heeled shoes, I'd still like to wear something pretty and fashionable. Is that too much to ask? It appears to be.

#3) Shoes in my size are practically non-existent here in Spain, on or off base. I'm almost forced to order shoes online, and that stinks because I really need to try on shoes before purchasing them. I hate to waste time, energy and money ordering shoes and waiting an eternity for them to arrive, only to have to ship them back.

So... you see, I hate shopping for shoes and tend to hold onto them for a very long time. But, my friends, yesterday it was time... time for me to break down and buy some shoes. First of all, I needed dress shoes for an event I'm attending tomorrow night. I know, I know... I shouldn't wait until the last minute to shop for shoes. Trust me, I've figured that out. I thought I'd found an okay pair shoes that were similar to ballet slippers, but quickly determined they didn't have enough sole support. BLAST! Guess I'm stuck with the black pumps I've had for nearly 10 years now. No, I'm not kidding. I've had the same pair of shoes for almost 10 years.

Thankfully I had better luck finding new tennis shoes, which thrilled me since my old pair definitely needed replacing. I'm telling you, I love these new tennies! Check 'em out... Aren't they cute? The Nike Air Alvord VI is the "perfect trail running shoe for the runner who is looking for a comfortable and stable ride." At least that's what it says about the shoes online.

Am I a runner? Um... no. Will I ever be a runner? Um... no, probably not. But are these comfortable shoes? Yeah, baby! They're keepers! I can hardly believe I found them at the NEX. SCORE! How do you think they'd look with a formal dress?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Déjà vu

Didn't I recently take my son to get braces? I'm sure I did, so why did I have this feeling of déjà vu a few days ago? Hmmm... Oh yeah! That's because I've now done this twice. That's right, friends, I have two children in braces at the same time. What a fun time we're having these days!

Here's D on his big day at the orthodontist... This spreader device the orthodontist uses makes my jaws ache just looking at it.

What are you doing to my child?! Is that a drill?

I figured it was a good sign that he was wearing a smile.

I don't know why he felt the need to stick out his tongue. I suppose he was trying to determine if it was still a possibility.

D received a tutorial on how to brush and floss his teeth. He was also given the very sad news that there are certain foods/candies he can no longer eat... for now. Ah, very sad news indeed! Will he be okay?

Whew! He's taking his braces in stride. He'll be fine 'cause he's still wearing that smile.

Now... I think I'll just have our mail forwarded to the dental clinic because I do believe I'll be spending as much time there as I do here at home.