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....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

I'm a Facebooker. I enjoy the social networking that goes along with having a Facebook page. I love that it has allowed me to reconnect with high school classmates whom I haven't seen or talked to in 25+ years. I also enjoy the opportunity to chat with the many military friends we've made over the years as well as family members we rarely get to see. I can peek at photos of their families during holidays and vacations and they can do the same with me. This has been very enjoyable for me, however, I just had my first negative experience with Facebook.

A few days ago I commented on the status of one of my Facebook friends. It seems she was having a rough time and I asked if she was okay. She responded that she was fine, just dealing with some issues. She didn't go into details or post any personal information. Nothing else was said.

A couple of days later I received a private Facebook message from a complete and total stranger, obviously not one of my Facebook friends. This person had evidently read the mini-conversation that had taken place between my friend and me, and felt it necessary to share her personal thoughts. She then proceeded to make a very serious accusation about my friend. Can you say "awkward?" Mind you, this came out of nowhere for me. I have NO IDEA who this person is, nor why she would feel the need to contact me.

I wondered what I should do. Should I contact my friend and tell her someone is accusing her of wrongdoing? Should I respond to this stranger, and if so, what should I say?

You wanna know what I did? I did nothing. I couldn't see anything positive resulting from getting involved. I'm not telling my friend anything that might upset her further, nor am I taking the bait by responding to the stranger sending the disturbing message. On-line drama is so not my thing!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sunrise Sunset

One of the many reasons I love living where I do is the fact that we are given the opportunity to witness sights like this every day...
The sun is rising here and even though it's not yet visible to me, I can see the sky come alive with color as the sun rises higher and higher.

I love how the colors mix with the clouds, and as the clouds move and change shape, the colors change too.

Beautiful, isn't it? Photos really don't do this scene justice. I should get up early every morning for this! I don't think there's anything as beautiful as a sunrise.

Okay, I take that back. Sunsets are fairly spectacular too. I've posted lots of Spain sunsets, but not many of the sky just after the sun has set. Check these out... See what I mean?

God sure knows how to use the color palette in the most incredible ways, doesn't He? His "paintings" are never the same two nights in a row. It's both a privilege and a blessing to be witness to something so magnificent.

Sadly enough, I often taken this breathtaking sight for granted as it's just out my back door every night. I get busy and I forget to watch this display of art. Soon enough this will no longer be our view. Perhaps we'll have a great view in our next location too, but wherever we go, it won't be THIS view. Until then, I plan on making more of an effort to appreciate God's artistry unfold before me, morning and night.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Touring Cádiz

I'd been sharing details from my in-laws recent visit. The last time I posted about their trip, I mentioned going to the gypsy market in Cádiz. We did the gypsy market thing and then decided to stick around the city for a while and see the sights.

We'd asked our base tour guide where to pick up the ferry so we'd have transportation back to Rota since the group we were with would be leaving us. We wanted to purchase tickets in advance so we'd be assured a seat on the ferry. He gave us directions and said it was only about a 20-minute walk. The guy must walk incredibly fast as it was more like an hour-long walk for us.

We saw these ginormous cranes on our way to the ferry. The boys would have loved these as they looked like something out of Transformers.

We needed a break from walking and saw this tour bus, so we ended up getting tickets to ride it around the city. The bus naturally couldn't navigate the narrow streets, but the driver pointed out the main attractions. The ride was relaxing, cool and worth every euro spent... definitely the way to go!

Here are my in-laws on the bus. We rode on top so we could see better... you know, so we'd have optimum photo opportunities.

We passed by the famous Puertas de Tierra, which links the older and newer parts of the city. Cádiz is three thousand years old, which makes it the oldest city in Europe.

The beaches of Cádiz are beautiful! The city is almost completely surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Who wouldn't want to be lounging under one of these umbrellas, drinking something cold and refreshing? Of course it was late-September, therefore tourist season had pretty much come to an end in this area, which is why you don't see more people on the beach.

I'm not sure which beach this is, however, allow me to pass along a little piece of trivia to you... Playa de la Caleta in Cádiz was chosen to shoot some of the beach scenes for the James Bond movie "Die Another Day." I guess the most memorable scene of that movie was when Halle Berry comes out of the ocean and walks up the beach wearing an orange bikini equipped with a knife, looking SPECTACULAR. Ah, if we could all look like Halle Berry, right? It should be a sin to be that beautiful, but I digress.

Where was I? Oh yeah, back to our tour of Cádiz...

The golden-domed 18th century structure is the "Catedral Nueva" (New Cathedral), which took 116 years to complete. Another piece of trivia for ya.

This is the Hotel Playa Victoria, one of the newer, more contemporary hotels, located right on the beach.

You know me and my lighthouses... I had to have a photo! We can actually see this lighthouse and part of the coastline of Cádiz from our backyard.

This is Parque Genovés (Genoves Park), a beautiful garden area on the edge of the city. Squawking parrots are supposed to be plentiful here.

Wanted to show you one more photo from the park. You can see how large the trunk of this tree is by looking at the people standing to the right of it. I'm wondering just how old the tree is.

Every city has its fair share of statues, doesn't it? And of course I take photos of these works of art, only to later discover I have no idea the significance of them. This one is no different for me. Sorry. It's pretty though, isn't it?

I love the various architectural styles. Every building has a certain beauty.

Here's the cathedral from a different angle. It faces a big square with shops, bars and restaurants with outdoor dining tables.

This is one of the massive doors of the cathedral.

I thought this was a really pretty floral display.

Any guesses as to how old this door might be? I don't know either, but doesn't it look ancient?

I have no idea who this is, but I was totally intrigued by her look. I'm such a people watcher!

The ferry travels to both El Puerto de Santa Maria and Rota. We took the Rota ferry and we traveled past our housing area on the way home.

We spotted this gorgeous home during our ferry ride. I would love to get a closer look, wouldn't you? What a sweet location!

We approached the ferry landing and marina in Rota.

We're almost there! The lighthouse is very welcoming, isn't it?

Here's the last scene from our trip. I like looking at the boats in the marina.

We enjoyed our day very much and highly recommend the Cádiz bus tour. My next post will include a few photos taken on the final day of my in-laws' visit. Later...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How can it be October 18th?

Today is October 18th, and I ask you, "How is that possible?" It seems as if I blinked my eyes and over half of the month disappeared. Please tell me I'm not alone in feeling as though time is flying by at warp speed!

I started pondering why this month is getting away from me so quickly and I came up with a few reasons...

1) We have children. Anyone with children is busy. Period. Children require work.

2) Our children are currently playing soccer, which means practices and games X 2 every week.

3) Our children are active in Scouting... one is a Cub Scout and the other is a Boy Scout, which equates to two nights out per week for meetings, plus multiple fundraisers this month.

4) Our 7th grader's homework is taking over our very lives. I'm not kidding.

5) There have been multiple social events this month, to include a Tops in
Blue concert, a hail & farewell, homecoming, etc.

6) I decorated our house for fall.

7) I've been shopping online for Halloween costumes as the NEX doesn't have what my kids want. Naturally.

8) One whole day was recently devoted to the writing of thank you notes for birthday gifts. The boys simply won't do it unless they're hounded. Once they get started, they're fine, but it would never dawn on them to do it without being asked. Will it ever?

9) We've provided snacks for at least three events, and will do so again this week. I think I'll just ask to have my mail forwarded to the commissary since that's where I seem to spend most of my time.

10) I've attended Bible study weekly, participated in a couple of spouses' gatherings, went to stamp club, attended a chapel council meeting, and took the boys to the dentist and the orthodontist.

11) We took a weekend trip to Lisbon, Portugal.

12) We've had some computer issues, which brought about the moving of LOTS of photos (among other things) to another computer.

13) I've been cropping and retouching more than 600 photos from our Portugal trip in preparation of posting some on Facebook and here on my blog. I may need a new glasses prescription before it's all said and done.

14) I've started planning an upcoming event with a friend, as well as my Christmas shopping.

15) I have laundry. Can't forget laundry! I could do laundry every day. We're dirty, filthy people, I tell you! We must be, or else the hampers wouldn't be full every other day.

I guess I should be happy that so much is going on in our lives, right? My mom tells me she misses the days when all of us kids were at home and she was virtually running her own taxi service, driving us from one place to another. She says those were some of the happiest days of her life. I suppose I can understand her point. One day I might feel the same way. That seems reasonable and quite likely. Right now, however, I'd like to have NOTHING to do and NOWHERE to be... just for a while anyway.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Busy! Busy! Busy!

It's already been a week since my last post and I don't know where the time has gone. Time literally seems to fly and I'm having trouble keeping up. I have yet to finish telling you about the remainder of my in-laws' visit and I also have trip details to share in regard to our Portugal excursion over the weekend. We've had some computer issues as well and I have a BUNCH of photos to post.

Fall is here, but it doesn't feel like it in southern Spain with temps still in the high 80s to low 90s. This is normally my favorite time of the year as I always look forward to cooler temps, colorful leaves on the trees, fall decorations, foods that go along with fall (pumpkin, chili, soups, etc.)... If only it were a little cooler.

I've decorated the house for fall and ordered one kid's Halloween costume off the internet since I couldn't find what he wanted here at the NEX. The other kid is 13 and he's going to make his own costume. He's evidently going to some dance at the youth center on base on Halloween night. I need to find out more details as reliable sources tell me he has invited a girl to go to the dance, however, we've yet to get any intel out of him, and it's KILLING me!

Once Halloween is over, it seems Christmas is just around the corner. I've yet to begin shopping, which isn't exactly very smart due to the fact that planning ahead is the name of the game when living overseas. It's very challenging to shop here and the filling out of the customs forms at the post office can be painful. It might be a gift card kind of Christmas again this year. Thank the Lord for the internet! Can I get an amen?

Monday, October 5, 2009

A trip to the gypsy market...

During my in-laws' stay we visited the gypsy market in Cadiz, a first for us as well as them. We joined a group of people from the base and rode a bus to Cadiz, which was the best way to travel. The boys were in school, so it was just my in-laws, my hubby and me. I'd been to the gypsy market in Rota, but the one in Cadiz is probably five times larger.

The gypsy market is set up along the boardwalk next to the harbor. I loved seeing all the boats!

Booths stretched as far as the eye could see!

Our tour guide from the base gives us the lowdown on the gypsy market and advises us to watch our wallets and purses and keep them in front of us at all times.

The fabrics were very pretty and colorful.

Some booths had shoes piled high on tables like this one, and other booths had shoes hanging from poles or neatly stacked. I got tickled listening to the vendors yelling at shoppers to check out their merchandise.

There were scarves galore, in every color imaginable! These are very popular here in Spain.

Underwear anyone? We saw LOTS of unmentionables! In fact, we saw lots of the same kinds of things... underwear, clothing, shoes, jewelry, purses, scarves, fabric, towels, etc. Every tenth booth or so was like starting at the beginning with the same types of merchandise. Much of it was made in China too, just like in the States! Going to the gyspy market was reminiscent of going to most any flea market I've ever been to in the States, only flea markets sometimes have used items and there didn't appear to be any used items in the gypsy market.

People were virtually shoulder to shoulder. I could totally understand why our tour guide told us to be on our guard with our money. Pickpocketing could happen so quickly and easily in a place like this.

I really liked these purses. These seemed more unique in comparison to most of the others I saw that day.

This guy was selling snacks and drinks from a cart he pushed through the crowd.

Olives, garlic and spices were sold at several booths.

This was one of the larger clothing booths we saw... a double decker with clothes hanging above and below.

Aren't the baby dresses adorable? The pastels are so pretty!

Little girls dresses were in abundance. I didn't see lots of clothing for boys except for T-shirts and jeans. In general children here in Spain are almost always dressed up, unless they are at the beach.

See the tall guy in the middle of the photo? That's my very patient husband... waiting for me to finish snapping pictures so we can move on to the next booth of purses and scarves.

Oops... here are a few more of those unmentionables, but these are a little different that the previous ones I showed you.

My mother-in-law checks out the ribbon and lace.

Looking for a little bling? Gotcha covered!

My mother-in-law browses through the linens while my father-in-law... ahem... waits patiently.

We perused and browsed and ogled and touched and eventually ended up walking away from the gypsy market having purchased NOT.ONE.THING. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking we exercised great restraint, and I suppose we did. Looking back, I'm glad we didn't purchase anything because we remained in Cadiz and took a bus tour, and it would have been extremely painful to tote gypsy market treasures all over the city for the rest of the day.

Next... photos and commentary (Of course there will be commentary! Isn't there always commentary?) of our bus tour of Cadiz. I know you'll be waiting on pins and needles. Later...