Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: More sights of Madrid & beyond

A few sights from our Friday night in Madrid and Saturday in Aranjuez playing tourists with our guest from the USA.

Street musicians play the dulcimer.


Aranjuez is known for their huge strawberries. Below, Princess enjoys some fresh berries.

The royal palace in Aranjuez was very interesting. We´d never been before but found out that with our "numerous family" card, we can get in free ... and into several other museums and palaces around Spain. Good news to know!

The gardens outside the royal palace were beautiful, but somewhat barren. We hope to go back sometime when the trees have leaves and the flowers are in bloom.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today´s tackle: trading spaces

A couple of weeks ago my husband started making some changes in the bedroom of our oldest 2 boys. This has had a domino effect that resulted in today´s tackle. For a long time I have been concerned about our kids using our computer and getting online from the study in the back of our apartment. I wanted to move the computer to a more central area. At the same time I knew we needed to make a change in the bedroom situation. Several months ago our 7 year old son, who had been sharing a room with his two older brothers moved into the bedroom with his little sister. It put a major crimp in finishing the decoration of the Princess bedroom, and once again our son didn´t really have a space of his own.

A very good friend came over to visit us and she jumped right in to help us tackle the job of redefining our spaces. We spent Friday morning shopping at Ikea for
this bed and a mattress to go with it. We had a few laughs as we got the 103 pound box (the bed) onto the cart, into the car, out of the car, into the apartment building, into the elevator and into the apartment. We are women, hear us roar. HA!

We then did the "tourist thing" Friday night and al day Saturday which was fun. Sunday was church all day and then Monday we spent her last full day in full tackle mode. My husband worked hard to dismantle the desk area in our office. He also took the two large bookcases that divided the office half of the room from the storage half of the room and moved them out. Their temporary home is in the hallway but they will most likely end up in my bedroom once we get rid of a huge piece of furniture that is in there. While my husband spent the afternoon building the new bed, Miss Cindy and I worked in the living room/dining room to create a space for the computer and printer. We moved things around a few times, tried out various set ups with extension cords and ended up with a nice little internet area as well as running phone lines through the wall so that we can have both our Spanish phone and a vonage phone set up in the living room and another set of phones in our bedroom.

My son was so thrilled to see his new bed ... and not just any normal bed, but an elevated bed that has a cool play area underneath. "the cave" as he calls it. We put a drawer unit (for his toys) under the bed and a hanging basket (for his socks, undies and pjs.) There is a little shelf, a lamp, and our old crib mattress on the floor for comfort. There is still a half of the room that is full of stored boxes and the closet is not accessable but that is a tackle for another day. For now, my son has a place to sleep "under the stars" and a little man cave underneath.

"The office" before the big change

The new space for the computer is now in a much more central area, where I will be able to better monitor what the kids are doing and seeing online.

The new bed with its star canopy.

The little man-cave provides a play area and storage under the bed.

All smiles with his buddy, Miss Cindy.

Head on over to 5 minutes for mom to see what others are tackling this week.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Today you are catching me mid tackle. My husband and I hit Ikea last week and bought some bookshelves and dressers and a table for the boys' bedroom. All are put built except one of the dressers. Some of the old stuff has been taken apart and removed from the bedroom but there is still a ways to go before everything has a place again. No pictures yet, it is too scary. Ü

I am also in the middle of putting the Christmas decorations away and taking down the tree. Because of all the sickness we had over the holidays, the decorations have stayed up far too long. My husband's birthday is Friday and the "rule" is that it must ALL be DONE before then. I have been attacking the house in "crisis cleaning" mode rotating rooms every 15 minutes so that we could see a bit of progress made everywhere. However, I need to do a few more rotations.

I am mid-tackle in an on-going task of turning my home into a sanctuary for my family. I have become a "company girl" joining with many others over at Rachel's site. We are doing one little thing each day and I have not missed a day's mission since the day I started. My points total is 260, but more importantly, I am seeing that little things make a difference.

I did finish one tackle just now. I figured out how to add a button link to my sidebar and added the company girl button. I feel quite good that I got it up. I may even take my son's advice and play around with a new color scheme for the blog. Another time. Let's not mess up a good thing. UDATE: I did add a picture to the header and then decided to try out a new template. Not sure if I like it yet.

Check out 5 minutes for Mom to see what others are tackling this week.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday Meanderings: Jan 14-20

I am a little late posting this but decided to go ahead and get back in the pattern of planning my week and living more intentionally. I am going to simplify some things (the menu will just have the main meals this week) and spend more time accomplishing the goals.

Bible Study/Devotional Plan: Still floundering a bit on which plan to use for daily reading but I desire to start doing something that I have not done before (at least with any regularity or plan) and that is MEDITATING on the WORD. My husband gave me a journal for Christmas called Happy Verse Day. Each page has a verse for the day that has that day's date as the reference. For example, January 1 (1/1) was Genesis 1:1, June 27(my anniversary 6/27) is Luke 6:27, etc. I wasn't sure what I would do with this gift -- my perfectionism makes me hesitant to write in journals -- so I thought that I would just read each day's verse and work on meditating on it throughout the day. This is easier if I go ahead and memorize it so yesterday I reviewed John 1:14 which was a wonderful thought for the day. This week's verses are: John 1:14, Colossians 1:15, Romans 1:16,James 1:17, Isaiah 1:18, James 1:19, and Romans 1:20. Anyone want to join me in my daily meditation?


Financial: Fill out insurance forms for the ton of doctor's appointments we had in December and mail them in.
School: Attend newspaper with the kids and help get the next issue planned.
Home: I am joining a great group of women over at Home Sanctuary doing just one little thing each day to make our homes into a peaceful sanctuary for our family. If I do only one thing each day above and beyond the daily upkeep, I am doing Rachel's little missions.
Exercise: Don't ask.
FUN: Prepare for my husband to celebrate his birthday and "catch up" with his "old lady". I love it from Jan 18 to July 29 because we are the same age, and then for the second half of the year I become a year older. Wednesday I will check out a store that I am told sells clothes from Lands End at discount prices to see if I can find him a present or two. Birthday dinner will be postponed from Friday to Saturday to fit in with his crazy work schedule this week.

Train them up: Just trying to get back into the school schedule and focus on being ON TIME for school in the morning. Oh, and not bickering and complaining in the car to and from school. So far so good this week.

Menu Plan Monday (just listing two choices each day- one will be midday meal and the other at night, the schedule will determine if we eat heavier midday or later)

1. Baked bean casserole
2. Left over lasagna from Sunday

1. Egg salad sandwiches
2. left over turkey soup from Friday with fresh biscuits

1. Baked potatoes with toppings. Steamed broccoli and/or cauliflower
2. Finish the baked bean casserole

1. Baked burrito dinner
2. personalized omelettes with texas toast

1. Homemade pizza
2. movie night --- popcorn and snacks with a new dvd from the Christmas gifts

1. lunch-- sandwiches
2. dinner -- hubby's birthday meal a day late. He wants either baked ham or potroast depending on what is a better price. mashed potatoes and vegetable(s)

no definite plan yet. Probably spaghetti and meatballs or broasted chicken from the chicken place in our neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tuesday's tackle .... back to "normal" life

Christmas vacation is over and the kids all went back to school this morning. As a family we (barely) survived the break. Since Dec 17th we have not had a single day where all six of us were completely healthy. We have had pink eye twice, stomach flu (an exceptionally rough one) two different times that hit 4/6 of us the first time and 5/6 of us the second, as well as a severe cold/sinus problem and assorted fever issues. It was one of those holiday seasons that will go down in the family history .. (remember the year that princess missed her first school program, mom missed singing her duet in the church cantata, and we all spent Three Kings' Day weekend trying to make it to the bathroom in time?) Yup, it was no fun, let me tell you. What I am trying to understand is HOW DID MY HUSBAND MANAGE TO NOT CATCH ANY OF IT????? Now, mind you, I am not wishing that he had gotten sick, because, well, let's just say he is not the easiest patient to take care of. Probably because he has so little "practice". The man is hardly ever sick, but when he is it is not pretty. Some might say he didn't get sick because he wasn't taking care of the sick kids but let me just say, he was right there in the trenches holding buckets, hosing off soiled bedding and pj's, and mopping up accident ridden floors. He is not afraid of being a true "hands on" father and husband and for that I am soooooo grateful. I just wish I could bottle up some of his immunity and inject it in myself since the only ailment that I managed to avoid was the pink eye.
Saturday night I wrapped a couple of small presents for each family member and prepared the shoes for Sunday's celebration of Reyes (3 Kings Day). We do our major gift giving on Christmas, being Americans and also for the practical side of giving the kids more than just a day to play with their new toys before returning to school. But we like to do a little something to let them celebrate Spanish style .... waking up to a gift or two or three in their shoes that were set out by the door the night before. I was completely indisposed all day Sunday having awakened at 4am to begin my own up close and personal relationship with our "throne". The kids opened their presents and I dragged my sorry self out to the couch for the second half of the day. They didn't get the traditional pastry for breakfast since everyone but my hubby was just getting over or still in the throws of the stomach flu. We were in various stages of ginger ale only diet or the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet.
This morning I had lofty dreams of tackling the most neglected rooms (living room and kitchen) but was quickly brought down to earth. As I dropped off the kids I overheard another mother mentioning the surprise party the moms had planned for Princess's teacher. OH NO!!! I had volunteered (back before Christmas) to provide the birthday cake. I ran home and quickly threw together my favorite from scratch chocolate cake, frosted it, decorated it and dashed back to school at 11:30 in time to get it to the 4 year old classroom before noon recess. She was pleasantly surprised, the principal was duly impressed and I was just thankful that I pulled it off. Whew! Gotta get a new calendar and post reminders on it PRONTO.
Check out 5 minutes for mom to see what others tackled this week.

The finished product. Nothing fancy to a typical american, but considering the average spanish woman does not bake AT ALL, even my simplest creations look pretty special.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 Tablespoons cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour rectangular cake pan. Mix mayonnaise, vanilla and water in mixing bowl. Sift all dry ingredients and gradually add to wet ingredients. Beat for 1 or 2 minutes until well mixed. Pour into pan and bake for 35 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite frosting.

Butter cream frosting

1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 Tablespoons milk
3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Mix butter, vanilla, milk and 1 cup powdered sugar together with an electric mixer. Mix well until fluffy. Gradually add the other 2 cups of powdered sugar. Mix well adding slightly more milk or sugar if needed to get it to a good spreadable consistency.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Year -- New Resolutions

tried to add the new button for 5 minutes for mom and their New Year's posts but it wouldn't work. just click here to see their posts and new contests.

internet is back, blogging break continues (somewhat)

Internet is back. I am not back, well not really, except when I am. (Insert a Tim Allen style HUH? here). I may come and escape to the computer a few times today between loads of laundry. I have several loads that have been waiting for me to quit pretending that I am on "vacation" from housework simply because the kids don't have to go to school and because I still have a crummy sinus pressure filled cold. However, the regular laundry will have to wait because I have 2, count 'em TWO sons who spent the better part of last night erupting all over everything in their pitiful attempts of turning their insides out and purging their bodies of whatever vile virus has attacked their tummies. Three loads down ..... at least three to go judging from the size of the pile of sheets, blankets and towels by the washing machine. Oh, and a thorough scrubbing and disinfecting of the brand new toy (the Pirates of the Caribbean Black Pearl play ship) that was unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire from the top bunk ..... "Maelstrom!"
Better go get another load started before I walk over to the store and stock up on some more ginger ale and Sprite, plus supplies for the BRAT diet once those tummies settle down and they are ready to start eating.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The blogging break is unavoidably extended

Our high speed internet is not working. I am able to get dial up service but I dare not stay on long since I am not sure what it is costing me. After many phone calls to our ISP company and two trips cross town to my friend's house to test out our router in her house we have determined that the router is not the problem and the ISP company assures us that they are not the problem, so now we have a service call in to the telephone company to come out and replace the "box" where the phone lines enter our home. The phone lines are working but not the data lines. At least that is how I understand the gobbledegook that I was hearing over the phone line from several customer service reps with varying degrees of helpfullness.
So ..... although I am going into blogging withdrawal, all my great posts from our Christmas break will have to wait.
Unfortunately our vonage line also will not work and I am really sad about that since we didn't get to talk with our family and friends like we usually do on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.