Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green thumb? You be the judge...

I swear, I'm a lethal weapon against healthy plants. My plants used to look nice. What happened to them?

Now they all look like this... sad, withering, dying. They're pitiful!

I haven't been watering them because our gardener does that for us, but I'm wondering if the torrential rains we experienced during the seemingly never-ending rainy season have literally drowned our plants. Is that what the yellow leaves mean?

How about no leaves? What does that mean? I'm thinking it means I don't exactly have a green thumb. I guess I need to start over with some new, healthy plants, or just give it up and buy fake ones that I can't kill.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's tough being a woman...

I've been participating in a Bible study with our base PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel). We're currently doing Beth Moore's study entitled "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman."

So... do you think it's tough being a woman, and, if so, why? I definitely think it's tough being a woman for many reaons, but I'll share just one with you right here, right now...

Do these look familiar? Yes? No? How about a different view?

Still don't know? Need a hint? Okay... if you're a woman over the age of 40, you have likely worn these at least once, and if you haven't you SHOULD!

These little snazzy Band-Aid-like thingies are what women wear during a mammogram. No, I'm not kidding. Seriously. They're like Band-Aids, only they're not; they're "adhesive markers." The metal dot in the center is there to provide a clear "landmark" for the radiologist on the mammogram images, or at least that's what I understand. All I know is that it feels strange to have adhesive anything in that area.

I'd dreaded mammograms with a passion long before I'd ever had my first one. But you know what? They're really not as bad as everyone makes them out to be. At least they aren't for me. Sure, I don't wake up wishing I could go get a mammogram every day, and no, I don't like showing my chest to people other than my husband, and I hate that I can't wear deodorant during the mammogram because it's right then that I want to start sweating profusely, but let's face it... mammograms are necessary and they can help save our lives, right? So... we women gotta do what we gotta do to take care of ourselves.

Later, after the mammogram is finished, and you're talking a mile a minute with a friend out in the parking lot of the base exchange, you feel something foreign and you're momentarily panicked, thinking to yourself, "Something just doesn't feel right." Then you realize that you've forgotten to remove the adhesive markers. At first you want to shout "Hallelujah!" because you know it's just those dadgum adhesive markers and not lumps in your breasts (Thank you, Lord!), and then your face burns with embarrassment. Of course I wouldn't know about anything like this happening.

Okay, okay... I admit it! Yes, it happened to me. Heaven, help me! Some days I just need some assistance.

Yeah, it's tough being a woman in a world where mammograms are a necessariy evil, and to add insult to injury, our own scattered brains cause us embarrassment. Thankfully I've only lost my mind and not my sense of humor. ☺

Go Big Blue!

71 East Tennessee State

100 Kentucky

Am I proud? You betcha!

My beloved Kentucky Wildcats beat East Tennessee State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cats just claimed the school's 26th Southeastern Conference Tournament title and have an NCAA record 12th 30-win season.

UK is also the youngest team in the tournament by average years of collegiate experience. This team gets a lot of criticism, and I think UK player DeMarcus Cousins covered it well when he said, "A lot of teams want to come at us because of who we are and what individuals we have on our team... At the same time, if we lose, we were basically supposed to lose because of our inexperience. If we win, we were supposed to win because of our talent."

Have I mentioned we like college hoops at our house? We drag out this "write-on wipe-off" board every year during March Madness and fill in the brackets.

Of course we're especially drawn to the East Region, since that's where Kentucky is playing. It won't be an easy road to the Final Four, but I really think this team has the potential go all the way.

Eric Bledsoe led the Wildcats with 29 points, connecting on 9 of 11 field goals, 8 of those shots from 3-point land. His eight 3-pointers set a new record for a Kentucky player in an NCAA tournament game. He surpassed former UK player Tony Delk's previous school record of seven 3s in the 1996 championship game victory over Syracuse.

Kentucky made over 50% of its shots during this first-round game, and the team managed to sink 15 3-pointers, something they haven't exactly been doing consistently throughout the season. I love this quote by East Tennessee State's coach, Murry Bartow... "Our scouting report said they couldn't make 3s and they made 15." Surprise! Surprise!

I so wish I'd been able to stay up to watch the game. I was rather confident they would win, and the game didn't start until 12:15am here in Spain. I was so sleepy! Now I wish I'd taken a nap earlier in the day so that I could have stayed up to watch what I understand was quite a spectacular game for the Cats. The next game is scheduled for Saturday night at sometime around 8pm or thereafter. That means I'll have to be up at 1am to watch my team. Can I do it? I'm sure gonna try!

Go Big Blue... Beat Wake Forest!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Big Blue Nation & March Madness

It's March Madness, one of my favorite times of the year. We're big college hoops fans at our house. One could say I'm rather partial to the Kentucky Wildcats, and my husband roots for his North Carolina Tar Heels. We actually cheer for one another's teams, as long as they're not playing one another. When that happens, we're a house divided. ☺

My beloved Wildcats are having quite a successful season, and I'm lovin' it. I don't get to watch as many as games as I'd like due to the fact that I reside on another continent. Between the not-so-wonderful TV coverage and the time difference, it's challenging at times, but I watch my team whenever possible.

UK just won the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Tournament and it was a nail biter championship game. They won by the narrowest of margins... 1 point in overtime. I cheered, yelled, clapped and carried on like a maniac. I believe I frightened my children. My oldest was IMing with his dad (who was out of town) during the game and he told him I was "very excited." I'm certain I suffered several mini heart attacks throughout the final minutes. If this is any indication of how the NCAA Tournament is going to go, I might just need to seek the advice of my physician before any further viewing of games.

I'm celebrating with the Big Blue Nation this week and couldn't be prouder of them. Here's a little coverage of the SEC Tournament...

Fanatical fans show their team spirit. In case you aren't aware, UK fans are very serious about winning... ALWAYS!

One of our more famous fans... actress and UK graduate Ashley Judd.

John Wall is UK's all-time leading freshman scorer and assist leader. He leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally in assists. He's recently been named a First-Team All-American, SEC Player of the Year and National Player of the Year by Yahoo! Sports, just to name a few honors. To say Wall is an exceptional player is putting it mildly. He's phenomenal and so exciting to watch in action. The question is... will he stay for his sophomore year, or will he go pro? I choose to think about that after the NCAA Tournament.

Just a little more regarding John Wall...

This is DeMarcus Cousins, affectionately known as "Boogie" or "Cuz." He was recently selected as a First-Team All-American, he's set all-time records for Wildcat freshmen in double-doubles and rebounds. Cuz has more double-doubles than any other player in the league this season and the most by a Wildcat since the 1973 season. I made reference to Cuz on Facebook during the championship game, and several people thought I had a cousin that played on the team. ☺ Um... these folks are obviously not Cats fans, or they would know who I was talking about.

Here's the shot that Cuz made to put the game into OT. I think by this time I'd chewed every single one of my fingernails to the quick.

Cuz and John Wall celebrate the win. Wall hit a 3-pointer and Cuz sunk a pair of freethrows late in the overtime to help seal the victory.

The UK Wildcats receive the SEC Tournament championship trophy. Three Cats were selected for the all-tournament team... John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe.

The whole team savors the moment.

UK is the #1 seed in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament and they take on East Tennessee State in the first round on Thursday night (Friday morning for me here in Spain). Go Big Blue! Claw 'em, Cats! I'll be watching.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Need a Maxine fix?

I love Maxine, the wise-crackin', hilarious ol' lady who graces many a card (among tons of other items) in Hallmark stores all over the country. She's got attitude and she tells it like it is. Somedays I'd love to be more like her... confident, fearless, witty and just flat honest. Here's a little taste of that sassy broad...

I don't personally have this problem, but I know people who do, God love 'em.

I'm just old enough to have gotten out of college and started a family before any job I had required me to learn the art of Power Point presentations. My 13-year-old knows so much more than I do in this department. My knowledge and ability level is closer to Maxine's.

Okay, I know this is ugly, but it's funny too. Sometimes you just want to tell off the mean people of the world, you know? And Maxine does it so well, doesn't she?

Every day needs to begin with a little Maxine humor, don't you think? Consider this my good deed for the day. ☺

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Proud Moment

Our oldest son was recently inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.

D is a very good student and involved in lots of activities in our community.

He's a great kid! Yeah, I wish he'd tucked in his shirt, and if I'd had my way, he'd have worn khakis rather than jeans on this day, but we compromised with a nice collared shirt and shoes other than sneakers. I choose my battles as wisely as I possibly can.

You could say I'm a proud mother, and you'd be right. My husband and I have decided we'll keep him around for a while longer.

My good friend Liesl, whose daughter was also inducted into the NJHS, took this video for me. I got tickled a couple of times when these Junior ROTC cadets accidently poked themselves in the head with their sabers. Luckily they were wearing hats, right? I so wish Liesl had captured that on video. I know, I'm easily entertained.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I do... take 2

Have you ever been to a vow renewal ceremony? I had never been to one until last week, and I have to tell you, it was so precious and made such an impression on me, that I felt compelled to share it with you.

First allow me to give you a little background information, as this was a very unusual situation. The couple renewing their wedding vows were essentially strangers to me. I'd met the husband once, a few months ago, during a conference he was attending at our military base. He and my husband work together, although he's stationed in a remote location, geographically separated from his family for a year. I had never met his wife.

Fast forward to about a month or so ago... My husband told me that this guy had invited his wife to meet him here for a different conference, and once the conference was over, the two of them were going to renew their wedding vows. The interesting and somewhat tricky part was the fact that she was totally unaware of his plans, and he needed a little help pulling it off.

My first thought, honestly, was the possibility that this couple's marriage might be a bit rocky, considering the time and distance involved with these kinds of separations. Extended deployments and remote tours are challenging, so maybe this guy was doing something extra special because he was desperate. You hear about this kind of thing all the time. I sincerely hoped he was confident that his wife would accept his proposal. How sad and humiliating would it be if this whole thing blew up in his face?

A few of us local folks were helping with the planning and execution of this special event, and after receiving a few emails from this guy, it quickly became apparent to me that my initial concerns were totally unfounded. He was completely sincere and obviously crazy about his wife and I found myself getting very excited about being in on this wonderful secret.

Okay, so dwell on this for a minute, looking at it from the wife's perspective, will you? Just picture getting on a plane, minus your children, so you can rendezvous with your husband, a deployed military man serving his country in some not-so-desirable place. You haven't seen him in several months, you're meeting him at the beach in southern Spain and you have a whole week together. Granted, you can't sit and hold hands and stare into his eyes during the conference, but you get to see him every single day for a week. That sounds pretty fabulous, right?

What this woman didn't know is that her husband was planning to ask her to marry him all over again. It wasn't just a "Hey, let's renew our wedding vows while we're together" kind of thing. He'd purchased a ring (an exquisite one, I might add) and was going to literally get down on bended knee and pop the question. He'd arranged for a military chaplain to perform the ceremony, invited a handful of guests, arranged for a bouquet of flowers, had dinner reservations at a great restaurant afterward, and even had a mini wedding cake waiting. Oh yeah, and the wedding was to be held in a castle... really! Photos would later take place on the beach, close to sunset.

I ask you... how romantic is THAT? Do you have chills? Are your eyes brimming with tears? This story awakened the princess in me and every other woman with whom I've shared it. On the flip side, the men who were either witness to this event or merely heard about it, shook their heads in despair and disbelief, and muttered things under their breath like, "Thanks a lot, dude! Way to set the bar impossibly high!" or "Great... my wife is NEVER going to let me forget this."

Would you like to see a few photos from this fairy tale-ish second wedding? Yeah, I thought you might, and I'm happy to oblige...

This is El Castillo de Luna (Luna Castle), which translates to "Castle of the Moon." The proposal and subsequent wedding took place here. It's reported that Ponce de León used the castle during his visits to the area. Oh, and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella supposedly stayed here as well. How many people can say they got married where that kind of history exists?

This is the room where it all took place.

A small crowd of guests waited for the happy couple to arrive.

This is the big moment we'd all been waiting for... the proposal! I think the blushing bride was surprised, although I don't know for sure. The surprise was nearly given away more than once during the week, so she may have had her suspicions, but if she did, she very graciously kept them to herself. ☺ Sidebar... Do you just love her sassy coat or what?

One of our base chaplains performed the vow renewal ceremony.

I loved it when they turned and faced one another. The vows are coming up!

I was rather grateful to be behind the camera and "busy," otherwise I would have been searching for tissues I'd forgotten to stash in my purse.

Just look at our beautiful bride... she's positively glowing! And why not? She's in love with her husband of 18 years and they're celebrating that love in such a simple, sweet and incredibly romantic way.

I love hearing couples repeat their wedding vows. I get this little peek into their relationship, as they share their feelings for one another. This moment is solely for the bride and groom, and yet the couple allows invited guests to witness this very private, personal pledge of love. I so appreciate the vulnerability that exists at this point in the ceremony. Each person is pledging their love and devotion to one other, in the presence of God, as well as everyone else in the room. It's such a lovely promise, don't you think?

I must confess a huge faux pas right here. Are you ready for this? I missed the kiss! I know, I know... I can't believe it either. How does one miss the kiss? All I can hope is that the other person taking photos captured it.

Taking photos during a wedding felt a little intrusive to me, but everyone wants photos of this special event, right? If I could have willed myself invisible, I would have. This particular moment... the prayer... felt the most intrusive of all. It should be the most sincere moment of the entire ceremony, shouldn't it? I didn't want to take anything away from that.

There was some time between the wedding and dinner to walk a short distance to the beach for photos. We were so thankful for beautiful weather, especially since it had been raining the day prior and the skies seemed to promise more the day of the wedding. Do you feel your head tilting as you look at this photo? Note to self: Hold the camera level next time! That's what people get when dealing with amateurs! ☺

Here they are... the happily "re-married" couple!

This archway provides beautiful views, no matter through which side one looks. From this direction, one can see Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la O (Our Lady of the O Church) in the background.

Just a little closer view of the happy couple

The view looking from the opposite side of the archway is equally beautiful, as we can see the ocean in the background. Unfortunately I don't have Photoshop capability, or I would have already cropped out the people behind our couple.

Think they were getting tired of smiling? Maybe not, but they probably were tired of posing. We put our cameras down for a while and just enjoyed the scenery.

I'm thinking the groom did a mighty fine job picking out this ring. That's some serious bling!

The happy couple gathered with their guests at a restaurant in the Hotel Duque De Nájera for dinner.

Okay, I missed the kiss, but I got a staged kiss.

A local military spouse made this beautiful mini wedding cake for the occasion. She actually made a second cake to be sure there was enough for everyone. Both were delicious!

The huge sparkler on top of the cake was on behalf of the restaurant, a little Spanish touch I suppose. I never dreamed I'd see fireworks accompany a wedding cake, but there's certainly a first time for everything.

So there you have it... a secretly planned proposal, followed by a castle wedding most little girls (and big ones too) only dream about. I'm so happy to have been there, and I wish this special couple many, many more years of wedded bliss. Here's to love and marriage!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Wild Olive... get your verse on

One of my girlfriends recently turned me on to this awesome website called Wild Olive Tees. Click here to check out the site. They make super cute Bible scripture t-shirts for women and children. Here are a few samples of the product line (Scripture is below each photo as it's otherwise difficult to read)...
"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." ~ Zephaniah 3:17

"I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me."
~ Psalm 13:5-6

"…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." ~ Isaiah 61:3

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will." ~ Romans 12:2

All of the T-shirts pictured above are for women, but here's one of the kids' T-shirts... "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." ~ Colossians 3:17

Aren't these precious? I just love 'em! The site also offers gift cards, which I recently took advantage of for a friend's birthday. Some of the shirts are currently on sale as well... perfect if you're looking for a little somethin'-somethin' to give a special someone. ♥