Sunday, February 28, 2010

Walk tall and carry a big stick

I have apparently become the neighborhood watch dog, not because I signed up for the job, but purely out of necessity. So... what does one do when every kid in the neighborhood, plus several outside the neighborhood, meet up in front of one's house to shoot hoops, ride bikes, throw football, etc., and that one kid begins to cause trouble?

When I say "trouble," I mean he is rough with other kids, particularly the younger ones. He throws things at them, takes off on other kids' bikes and won't get off, engages in name calling, etc.

The situation is a little complicated because I believe the kid might have a few issues I don't fully understand. I've attempted to talk nicely to him and explain that his behavior isn't acceptable as he's hurting other kids, in more ways than one. He's always very polite to me and nods his head, replying, "Yes, ma'am." But then he goes right back to the bullying.

I have no idea if this child's parents are aware of the challenges we're experiencing as I have yet to speak to them, although I have told the child I will if I feel it necessary. I'm beginning to feel it necessary more and more with each passing day, and boy, do I HATE confrontational situations. I avoid them at all costs.

All I know is what was once a peaceful setting for kids to gather and play together has become quite the opposite. I have kids ringing my doorbell, telling me that this child has said or done something hurtful and inappropriate. I understand the need to tell an adult, and I'm the closest one, so it makes sense for them to come to me, but I'm tired of playing referee and being put in the position of having to discipline other people's children.

Several of the children who play in our neighborhood don't live all that close, and I just wonder if their parents have a clue as to where they are when they're missing for hours on end. I'm more than a little perturbed with the lack of parental supervision around here. While I'm not in the habit of calling out someone else's child, I will most certainly do it when there is no parent present, especially if the mischief continually happens in my front yard.

Anyone have some good, sage advice for me?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do as I say, not as I do...

There's an Air Force conference here in Rota this week. We have a considerable number of out-of-town guests attending, and many of them are traveling with spouses, therefore I've been busy hanging out and having a good time with a bunch of new friends for the past couple of days.

With the help of several of my local Air Force girlfriends, we've put together an itinerary of activities to include a trip to a nearby Spanish village, morning out for a Spanish breakfast, shopping at the gypsy market, walking tour of the local area, lunch at the beach, etc. I'm hoping our visiting spouses are enjoying themselves and feeling welcome here.

Of course it's been my goal to be as organized as possible, sending emails in advance to those in attendance to give them the full scoop... information about the local area, options for daytime activities, weather reports, advice on the type of clothing and shoes to wear, etc.

The past two mornings we've met in the lobby of the hotel where most everyone is staying. I've been reminding everyone to carry their base passes, military ID cards, as well as their passports with them at all times. You never know when you could get stopped at the base gate, or even somewhere off base, and be required to show these items.

So today while we're at the gypsy market, I go to pay for a couple of scarves I've decided to purchase and realize I do not have...
1) any money,
2) my military ID card,
3) nor my Spanish driver's license,
all three of which I am supposed to have for this excursion.

Yeah, do as I say, not as I do...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Where were you?

Yesterday I had a couple of appointments and several errands to run, and I ended up not making it home before the boys got out of school. I tried and tried to call the house to tell them where I was, and that I'd be home soon, but all I got was voice mail. I tried calling my husband to see if he'd heard from the boys. All I got was his voice mail. I thought to myself it was a good thing I didn't have some kind of emergency.

I drove home, and just as I was entering our cul-de-sac, I saw both of the boys outside playing with neighbor kids. I pulled up next to them, and in a rather indignant tone my oldest asked, "Where WERE you?"

Where was I? Where was I? Are you kidding me?

In the nicest voice I could muster, which probably bordered on being just slightly sarcastic (I know you're surprised), I answered, "Where was I? Where were YOU? I called twice and no one answered the phone. How am I supposed to tell you where I am when you're not in the house?"

I guess the look on my face and the slightly sarcastic tone of my voice were enough to stop my son from further comment. His response was simply "Oh."

I told him I'd been to the commissary and had groceries to put away. He followed me home and jumped right in to help, something I normally would have to ask him to do. Hmmm... maybe I need to use this strategy more often, huh?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valentine Update

Just wanted to keep you up to speed with what went on here during Valentine's weekend...

On Saturday night my hubby took me out to a very nice dinner in El Puerto de Santa Maria. We joined three other couples from our group of friends and had a great time.

Here I am with my funny valentine, who also sprung for a dozen red roses as well as a box of chocolates and a Yankee candle (The latter gifts were from the boys). Yeah, I'm spoiled, and I love it!

I'll show you some of the delicious food we enjoyed during our night out...

The shrimp was really good, except they don't serve it with cocktail sauce.

Someone had a good time playing his food, but I won't mention any names. Those shrimp are literally staring at me! Kinda makes it hard to eat them, but trust me, I managed just fine. ☺

Mmmm... these little deep-fried babies were fabuloso! One was fish, and although I have no idea what the other one was, we referred to it as the Spanish version of a hush puppy.

Chocolate... really good chocolate.

In my last post I told you all about the gifts our boys purchased for their girlfriends. The oldest had given a gift to his girlfriend, which met with genuine gratitude on her part. She's either as sweet on him as he is on her, or she felt guilty for not giving him something the night of the dance, because on Sunday afternoon she showed up, unannounced, at our door with a gift and card for him. Her parents had driven her and were likely watching, therefore she didn't linger. She handed him the gift and the two of them briefly hugged before she said she had to go. I never even got to see her! Anyway, she gave him a very sweet card and a stuffed animal in return and he was so pleased. In that moment, the last 13 years of his life flashed before my eyes. I can't even describe the feeling. I know he'll probably have lots of girlfriends as the years go by, but I think I'm always going to remember this first one as being very special.

Our youngest son has yet to give his girlfriend the gift he picked out for her since she's still out of town. He did, however, share with me some of the notes she's given him at school, all safely folded and hidden somewhere in his room. He was so cute when showing them to me.

Ah, love is a many splendored thing, isn't it? No matter if it's mature love, young love or just puppy love, it's precious. I hope you had a memorable Valentine's Day with someone you love. ♥

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine Gift-Giving for Kids 101

Our boys are ages 13 and 10, and each of them has a girlfriend. I don't know how serious these relationships are, particularly where our youngest is concerned. He only knows his girlfriend asked him to be her boyfriend and he responded in the affirmative. Beyond that, he doesn't know what "going together" means. I'd like to keep it that way.

Our oldest, on the other hand, is apparently a little more "involved" with his girlfriend. He's been "seeing her" for a couple of months or so. They're in the same grade and have a couple of classes together. I have my spies at school, who have reported sightings of hand-holding, but nothing beyond that. My son and his girlfriend have attended two school dances together as a couple, and he's insisted on paying for the tickets out of his own pocket for the two of them. I like that he's generous and thoughtful in that way. ☺

About a month ago I'd discussed the fact that Valentine's Day was approaching, and inquired about the boys' intentions in regard to any gift-giving. Did they plan on buying said girlfriends any gifts for this special day? I want to be prepared for these things in advance since gift options are limited here. They both said they hadn't planned on it. Hmmm... I dropped the subject, but revisited it a couple of weeks later.

When asked about valentine gift-giving for said girlfriends a second time, the boys stuck by their original responses. I asked my oldest if he and his friend referred to another as "boyfriend-girlfriend" and he said yes. I asked him if he really liked this girl and he again said yes. Really? I told him, and I believe my exact words were, "You won't be her girlfriend for long if you don't get her a gift." I explained that girls look at things a little differently than boys, and that if he and his girlfriend are indeed a couple, she would most definitely be expecting a gift. He finally got it. Boys!

My hubby and I accompanied our son to the base exchange to help find both a card and a gift for this young lady. We were really surprised that he actually wanted our assistance. He ended up choosing a card that focused on friendship, so it wasn't something her parents would be raising their eyebrows over, and he opted for a very cute stuffed animal, something he felt she would like. I added a little baggie of valentine M&Ms and told him I had a red gift bag he could put everything in, and we'd make it look nice by putting some tissue paper inside.

That same night, as he was going to bed, my son asked me if I could go ahead and retrieve the tissue paper for the gift bag. Mind you, Valentine's Day was still 2 weeks away, but he wanted the gift ready right then. I obliged, getting quite a big kick out of his concern, and he asked me if he was supposed to wad up the paper and stick it in the bag. I had to show him how to gently stuff the paper in the bag to make it look pretty. It was all very funny and endearing. Never before had he shown an interest in the presentation of a gift. He must really like this girl. I'm so not ready for this!

Once his brother had taken care of his girlfriend's gift, our youngest son decided he should give his own girlfriend a gift as well, therefore we made yet another trip to the base exchange to search for just the right thing. He came up with a tiny stuffed animal... a pig to be exact, one that snorts when you squeeze its mid-section. I wasn't so sure this chosen gift would go over very well. I mean, who gives his girlfriend a pig? That could backfire big time, right? He assured me that she would like it, as she collects pigs. We bought it, but I immediately called the girl's mom (a friend of mine) to inquire about the likelihood of this gift being a hit. She confirmed that her daughter has been on quite the "pig kick" lately. Score! He's already showing signs of being a good boyfriend in that he actually listens to what she tells him. We added some valentine M&Ms in her gift bag as well. He hasn't had the opportunity to give her the valentine gift yet, as she's out of town for a few days. I hope his gift will meet with satisfaction. He's fairly oblivious to the whole thing, and I'm okay with that.

Last night our oldest met his girlfriend at the Cupid Dance for middle-schoolers. My hubby and I had offered to show up and help chaperone and he looked like he might faint on the spot. ☺ He took the gift with him and gave it to his girlfriend at the dance, and he said she liked it, hugging him twice in return. Awww... WHAT!? They were hugging? Were they doing anything else? I so wanted to ask, but I refrained from giving him the third degree. Instead I focused on asking questions about who else was in attendance and what kinds of things they did. He said they slow-danced, and at last count, the two of them have slow-danced together about 8 times between the last two dances. He's counting how many times they've slow-danced. I think that's precious!

This whole gift-giving thing for girlfriends is new to me. I don't know if I can take the pressure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Poop happens. Really... it does!

I should take a moment to apologize upfront for this photo. You may not find it remotely entertaining. I, on the other hand, found it to be hysterically funny today. I realize I have a warped sense of humor. Please don't hold it against me. Brace yourself!

Nothing like having your dog doing its business as the kids pose for that beach vacation photo. Seriously... this has "cherished memory" written all over it.

Thanks to my cousin Tracy for emailing this photo my way. You have no idea how much pleasure it's brought me. Sick and twisted, I know. ☺

P.S. I have to thank my friend Kerry for pointing out that another photo I had posted here was somewhat... AHEM... X-rated. In the photo was another dog doing its business, only it was a different kind of business, if you understand what I'm saying. This is just one more reason why I should wear my glasses while using the computer. Thank you, Kerry, for pointing this out to me. I'd have hated for my readers, all 3 three of you, to be offended. ☺

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mirror, Mirror...

Yeah, don't I wish?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Back in the saddle again!

Well, it's official... I've removed my "World's Best Couch Potato" badge and traded it in for a new and improved one... the "Lord Help Me I'm Out of Shape but Trying to Get Back into Shape" badge.

A couple of my girlfriends asked me if I wanted to work out with them and I simply couldn't think of a good enough reason not to join them. I guess I'm out of excuses for being a slug and I really do want to be healthier and feel better, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. I want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs and not feel like I need a hit of oxygen on the spot. I'm tired of squeezing into my clothes and feeling as if I look like a can of biscuits that just exploded. Just focus on that visual for a second. It's not a pretty sight.

I've been making exercise and diet a priority for the last 3+ weeks, and I'm already seeing results. I've lost almost 5 pounds and I feel a difference in my energy level. I'm sleeping like a log at night and just have a better all-around disposition. You know my family is lovin' that! The camaraderie with my workout pals is awesome too. I love the socialization as well as the encouragement we give one another.

Am I struggling?
Yep! I've been on "hiatus" from exercise for several years. I'm not going to get back into shape overnight.

Am I tired?
Yep! But like I said, I sleep good at night.

Am I sore?
You betcha! I'm quite sore, but I'm trying to work out the soreness and keep moving. I hate it when people say, "It's a good kind of sore," because soreness is NOT a good thing in my book, but I do understand it's a necessary evil right now. I won't always be sore, right? Right? Hello?

So say a little prayer for me that I can continue to stay motivated. I need all the help I can get right now.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rainbow = Promise

A couple of weeks or so ago we woke to this beautiful sight just outside our back door. We could see the entire rainbow, clear as day. (In fact, there was a double rainbow, but the second one was very faint and not easy to see.) Unfortunately I couldn't capture the entire rainbow in a photo, but thankfully I was able to snap a few photos of it before it disappeared into the clouds. Wow! What a way to start the day!

"I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." ~ Genesis 9:13

"Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." ~ Genesis 9:16

"So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth." ~ Genesis 9:17

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
~ Psalm 118:24