Saturday, December 29, 2007

How to keep from adding unwanted holiday pounds

1. Pack your schedule full full full in the weeks prior to Christmas. Do not prepare any Christmas cookie batter to store in the freezer.

2. In the last full week of school for your kids, schedule two doctor's appointments, and have 1 child get pink eye, 2 get the stomach flu and get sick yourself with a cold. Tell yourself that since you live in Spain that celebrates Christmas until Three Kings Day on January 6, that there is no rush to make cookie plates since they can be baked after Christmas and delivered later that week or the next. Besides, who would trust food baked in a house full of sick people?

3. Christmas week, remain sick with the cold to the point that you return to the doctor and have to take daily treatments on the nebulizer... which makes you so dizzy you can't stand up and walk a straight line. Have one of your kids start to run a fever, get the stomach flu yourself and spend a day and a half flat in bed. Eat nothing but crackers and ginger ale all day. Have another child develop a "is it pink eye/is it not pink eye?" type swelling in his eye late Friday night.

4. Develop a cough so hard it makes your muscles ache. Constantly remind yourself of your doctor in the states who always forbade milk products and sweets because it would increase the mucus production and make the cough worse. Remember that although you hated to admit it, he was right. Decide that you'd rather be able to sleep without coughing than eat the chocolate bar in your stocking.

5. Bake only what you need for the party you are planning for the church teens. Put all of it out on the table and encourage the two young men with the healthiest appetites to eat "all they want".

6.Decide that since the friends and neighbors aren't expecting cookie plates from you (you've only passed them out to the immediate neighbors and that was 2 years ago) you feel no pressure to push to make them this year. Let the kids frost the sugar cookies you did bake on Christmas eve for Santa's plate and be done with it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tackling life ...

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
I'm still rushing through my days hoping that I can get stop spinning this little hamster wheel and stop living from adrenalin rush to adrenalin rush. I have so much to do in the next 6 days it boggles my mind. However, to make me feel like I have accomplished something since last Tuesday (picture worthy or not) I will attempt to review the week's progress.
*Two ENT appointments made and kept for my 10 year old son. Thankfully the office is just a mile or so away from home.
*One drive to downtown Madrid to bring said son to have a CAT scan done of his sinus and nasal passages. (This took several hours last Friday and included bringing all the kids to my husband's work where he had Pizza Hut pizza waiting for us and then he took the rest of the kids out to do some shopping while my son and I were at the clinic for the scan.)
* With the help of my husband the boxes that hold the Christmas decorations have been removed from the living room and dining room. There is still too much clutter and the floors need to be swept and vacuumed but that is a chore for tomorrow. I spent a little time over at BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes but had to stop after looking at just a few posts. It was too depressing to look at these gorgeous homes with their decorations and the TOTAL LACK OF CLUTTER ANYWHERE that I started going into a funk. I would love to have even one little corner look half as good as some of these homes. Problem is that on top of always dealing with clutter, I lack the decorating gene. My sister has it. My sister-in-law(s) have it. My niece seems to have it too. I, however, just have a lot of stuff that I don't always know how to arrange in a pleasing and artful way. Now, don't get me wrong. I think I am a fairly good hostess and love to exercise "hospitality". If you come stay at my home you will be most welcome, and certainly be well fed. Sometimes I (and I think my husband too) wishes that our house could be a little more "put together".
*One entire Saturday morning (9:30 am till 2:30 pm) spent at the park while the two oldest have a special baseball game and pizza party before the Christmas break.
* One Entire Sunday spent away from home, leaving for church at 9:30 am and staying in town to grab lunch and then drive to the mountains north of Madrid to sing with the choir our first of two cantata concerts.... home around 10pm.
* Another trip to downtown Madrid (again with the kids in tow, picking up hubby to be our "taxi driver") to pick up the results of the CAT scan and return home to bring them to the ENT. (BTW, the scans showed nothing except some allergy related inflammation that we just need to treat with antihistamine).
* One trip with my 7 year old to the urgent care clinic to diagnose pink eye (conjunctivitis)
* several loads of laundry done ... including now a full change of bedsheets daily for the pink eye patient. Plus drops every 4 hours.
* Two days (of three) spent with the 7 year old at home from school due to the pink eye. Other than one quick trip to grab milk, bread and eggs at the grocery store, I have been rather home-bound, yet unable to wrap presents etc.
* A skeleton menu planned for this week and posted on the fridge, if not on the blog.

I will most likely be on bloggy hiatus until after Christmas (unless I need to escape for a bit and treat myself to a few minutes of writing) since I still have to finish shopping, wrapping, decorating the house, finish the school newspaper that needs to be run off and passed out to the students on Friday, plan for the teen Christmas party scheduled for the 29th at our home, and attend the kids' Christmas program at school Friday. I still plan to bake Christmas cookies and want to give out trays of assorted treats but will most likely do all that in the week between Christmas and New Year's. I gladly take advantage of the fact that here in Spain the holidays extend till January 6th (Kings Day) so no-one thinks you are tardy if you bring them a gift AFTER the 25th.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Sights and Sounds of Madrid on a Friday night

Some of the sights and sounds we experienced a couple of weeks ago when bringing a visitor to downtown Madrid on a Friday night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another Tuesday Tackle

I really feel a bit like a hamster running around on one of those little wheels ... lots of energy spent but not much progress made. Obviously for those who read last week´s TT post, I never got around to writing up a menu plan and posting it. I also missed the Monday post this week, and once again the menu is only half done. I do, however have meat and other ingredients in the house so I should be able to come up with good healthy meals. I really started to get used to having everything written down. Even my husband was taking notice. The other week when I was too busy to make a menu, I came home from some meetings and my husband had dinner almost finished. I asked him what he was cooking and he told me. I must have looked funny (since I knew we didn´t have the ingredients in the house for that) and he pointed to the menu sheet on the fridge (which was from the week before) and said "Well, it was on the menu for today." He had walked to the store and picked up the ingredients for it and had it ready to go. What a guy! If for no other reason than that, I need to get back to writing out a menu. Who knows when the mystery cook will come and take over dinner duty for me?

I have tackled a bunch of paper work in the last two days ... 2 months of expense reports are done. I am almost caught up to date. I vow I will not let myself get so far behind again. I still need a better system for keeping receipts etc so the process can go faster once I sit down to fill out the form. Any ideas to keep this SHE from getting sidetracked and distracted in the record-keeping process?

Last week my husband and I spent Wed. morning in the Toys R Us store doing a pretty good job at finishing our Christmas shopping for the kids. Between the things that we bought here and some things we bought online in the states and had our nephew-in-law ship over, and the stocking stuffers I have been picking up a few at a time, we are in very good shape. We had some friends flying to the states so we hustled to get presents bought and packages to mail out to family back home. The kids are about half done with their shopping for each other so a couple more trips one on one and they should be done too. I walked my hubby over to the jewelry store in our neighborhood tonight to point out a pair of earrings I like (hint hint hint) but I have been really bad at giving gift ideas this year so who knows what the family will come up with on their own. Of course, my oldest son already has his "assigned" gift but it is always a surprise what the details are. He has written and illustrated a book for me as my Christmas gift for the last four years. He takes one of my favorite treats and writes me a story about it. The books are hilarious and I enjoy them immensely while I snack on my treat. Past themes have been Walker´s Shortbread cookies, After Eight mints, Toblerone chocolate bars, and Reese´s peanut butter cups. A month or so ago he started asking me for other "favorite treats" of mine and I know I gave him some but I can´t remember what they were beyond malted milk balls (Whoppers). I can´t wait to see what he comes up with.
The kids had a long weekend with Thursday and Friday of last week off from school. We dug out the Christmas decorations and set up the tree. The tree is done, the boys (that would be son #2 and the big boy --my hubby) set up their Lionel trains around the base (that was a 4 hour job by itself!), and little by little the rest is going up. Tomorrow´s goal is to finish the decorating and get all the boxes put away so we can enjoy the living room again.

Thursday our church had a big pot luck dinner to celebrate our 16th anniversary. I made 4 kilos of jewish hotdogs (I´ll post the recipe here soon), hubby made 2 chocolate cakes, and I purchased supplies and made punch for aprox 90 people.

The biggest tackle in the last week has been my son´s health. Son #2 has had a painful ear infection all last week. He missed the whole week of school (fortunately only 3 days long) and we´ve been doing antibiotics, pain medicine and drops all week. He is still having pain so we tackled yet another trip to the ENT tonight and this Friday he goes for a TAC (a CAT scan in English). That will be an adventure I guess.

Whew! As I look at this post I am tired.... I think maybe I accomplished a bit more than I thought. Not a lot to take pictures of so enjoy one of the tree topper going on and one of the cookies I made at a friend's house this morning. She invited several Spanish ladies over to teach them how to make sugar cookies. We all had fun decorating them and the family enjoyed the fruits of my labor for dessert today.

Check back tomorrow to see if I can at least get my wordless Wednesday post up --- hopefully more tourist shots from our week with visitors.

My kids are dreaming of a White Christmas

I, on the other hand, am content to let the rest of the world deal with the cold wet stuff. My son linked to this youtube video on his blog and I thought it was cute, and would use it to see if I could figure out how to post it directly on the blog.

Looks like I figured it out.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Overheard at bedtime tonight

I walked in on my two youngest tonight as they were getting ready for bed. Not sure exactly why but this interchange tickled my funnybone.

N: (to Princess) What's inside your feet?

Princess: Bones.

N: What else?

Princess: Blood.

N: What else?

Princess: Piggies.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Snippets of Segovia

I've visited Segovia many times (it is my favorite day trip from Madrid) and have taken the "traditional" tourist shots many times. I decided last week to capture some new angles and focus on some of the great textures and designs found in and around town ... especially at the alcazar.

The one prerequisite "I was there" shot.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tuesday's Tackle: Scaling Mount Washmore

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

I have had company in my home all last week. Of course, that meant spending the good portion of a couple days doing the tourist thing. I hope to have a good Wordless Wednesday post tomorrow with some of the pictures I took on one of the two sightseeing days. Last week was also the week I went into the public school to present Thanksgiving. Things went very well both days and I learned many things to remember if I ever have the opportunity again. One was ..... don't bother to make a dish of candied yams because the Spanish kids would not even try them. However, the punch (cranberry juice mixed with Sprite) was a big hit. The days that we weren't sightseeing we were either at the school or at home baking and preparing for the school presentations.

Friday morning after we went out for coffee and Spanish tortilla we had just under 3 hours before picking the kids up after school and heading into Madrid for tourist day #2. I commented that I needed to get a load or two of laundry in because I had not done any all week. I got two loads washed and dried but not put away. This is a problem. I have a family of 6. I need to do 1 to 2 loads A DAY to keep up, and here I have gone ALMOST A WHOLE WEEK and only washed 2 loads. The mountain is growing out of control. Today I must tackle as many loads as possible ... and they need to be finished all the way to landing in the right closets and drawers.

It's not a very exciting tackle, and I would be embarrassed to post a picture of the overflowing hampers but it definitely needs to be done. Head on over to 5 minutes for Mom to see what others are tackling today. And, if you can, please help me out with #4 on my list below.

Secondary goals on the to do list for the day are:
1. Find folder with insurance papers and medical info to take with me to my son's ENT appt. tonight.
2. Straighten the living room in a futile hopeful attempt to prepare for Christmas decorating later in the week.
3. Plan the rest of the week's menus and post (all be it late) for Monday Meanderings.
4. Learn how to remove comments from a couple of old posts. I guess this means my blog has "arrived" (?) since I have now had my first "drive by commenter" leave snarky comments. I opened commenting up for anyone because I know some friends and family wanted to comment without registering with blogger but that now leaves me open to others like the "anonymous" commenter (from California, according to my sitereader report). Can anyone tell me how to do this in blogger? Thanks in advance for your helpful comments and please just surf on by and save your energy if all you have to say is to bash my religious beliefs or the fact that I eat meat.