Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I need your help.

Tackle it Tuesday this week needs your imput to help me make some wise shopping decisions in the next two weeks. Read on to see how you can help.

I am heading home to the states at the end of the week. I will be there for a little over two weeks. While I am there I hope to do some shopping. My wardrobe needs some help but with the horrible exchange rate and the difficulty I have just finding clothes that fit me well here (not to mention that the prices before the exchange are awful) I haven't bought much here. I know I can make my money work for me better back "home". I have been reading and listening to some advice on buying clothes that are flattering for your figure and I would like whatever I buy to really look good, not just be serviceable. So, this is where you come in .... I am trying to determining what colors I look best in and what "season" I am color-wise. Would you take a look at the slide show and leave a comment letting me know which colors you thought were the most flattering and which season you think I am (if you know anything about that.) As an incentive for commenters, I will use a random number generator to pick one of commenters (or maybe 2 if I get lots of response) and I will send you a little souvenir of Spain as a thank you for taking the time to look and comment.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday Meanderings: Today's one bite strategy -- SNARF

SNARF! That word comes from an old comic strip.... I think it was in a Garfield strip but I could be wrong. All I know is that once my good friend Anisha and I discovered the word we quickly took it for our own. Our families used to have Thanksgiving together and we would sit ourselves down at their little table, fairly groaning from the enormous spread and then smile at each other and say in unison "SNARF!" (We also used to use this often as we sat down to polish off a box of Entenmann's chocolate donuts between the two of us.) The idea was basically "Dig in! Eat your fill (and more)!" This has got to be my strategy for the next 4 days as I am in the final stretch to get ready for my trip Friday morning. I must attack with snarf-like gusto the bites before me.

Weekly goals/deadlines:
1. Finish compiling credit card statements and file my claim here.
2. Pack clothes, etc for Friday´s trip to the states.
3. Finish the "surprise" for Sunday's 50th anniversary party for my parents. (The reason for my upcoming trip)
4. Finish the schedule and meet with the friends who have volunteered to help pick up the elementary kids at the end of the school day and feed /watch them until my husband can pick them up after he gets off work at 2pm.

I just realized that today is Memorial Day in the states. I quickly decided to go with picnic food for lunch today so I will need to run over to the store for hamburger and buns. We will have a little bit of patriotism and americana at lunch today and I will play the song that I used to play each Memorial Day in chapel with the symphonic band when I was in college. I found a MIDI version online and I just LOVE this song. It has great memories for me and it lets my kids learn the tunes to all the theme songs of the US Armed Forces. The link is here. Just scroll down until you see the photo of the bald eagle and then go back up a bit until you see the medly section. The song is titled Armed Forces Salute. There are a ton of other patriotic songs at this site too if you happen to be looking for something else. I like having these kind of resources to share with my kids so they understand a bit of their american culture and heritage even though they are not living there right now.

This week's rough menu ideas --at least for the days until I leave. After that my husband will make all the things that he and the kids like but that I don´t like -- asparagus, fish, tuna casserole, etc etc etc. I will try to leave a couple of things in the freezer but I am confident that they will do fine without me. After all, the casserole and crockpot king will be here to feed the royal family. And they will all appreciate me all the more once I return. Ü

Monday -- burgers, chips, pasta salad, cream of zucchini soup
Tuesday -- 40 clove crock pot chicken, broccoli, potatoes
Wednesday -- oven beef stew
Thursday -- Tacos, or burritos, or taco salad (or one last chance at Mom´s homemade pizza if my packing is done ... ha ha ha)

Check out Tiany´s blog and Laura´s blog to see what others are planning for the week. Also check back here in the next few days as I have a post asking for your input to help me with a project I am planning during the time I am in the States.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday nibbles

It is 5pm. What I have accomplished so far today:
Read my Bible, took the kids to school, was invited out for coffee with the other moms who worked so hard on the school play, got my hair cut and styled, culled the two boxes of strawberries for those berries that were still good and have washed and cut up about 1/3 of them, picked up the kids at school, cooked, served, and cleaned up after the mid-day meal, helped son with his homework, tried to teach Princess how to wipe down the table, dealt with the drama queen as she bemoaned having been asked to do a chore and then wailed over being corrected.

Things I want to do with the rest of my day: 1. read a fluff book, 2. Watch a MacGyver episode with the kids, finish the last two photo collage frames for Princess's room, 3. Forget about fixing supper and just eat junk food while watching tv.

Things I need to do in the rest of my day: 1. Finish dealing with the strawberries. 2 Distribute the clean laundry to rooms and make sure everyone has a clean outfit for tomorrow. 3. translate VBS 4. hug Princess and stop blogging to read her the book she just brought over.

Wonder which list I will follow ....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday´s bites

Today´s goals ..... I am trying to be a bit more realistic this time.

1. Shop for fresh fruits and vegetables at the weekly outdoor market.
2. Take care of dishes and kitchen mess from yesterday.
3. Make arrangements to pick up the car that the garage said is fixed and ready to be picked up after 5:30 pm.
4. Finish yesterday's laundry ---- all the way to being put away in the right rooms.
5. Pick up living room.
6. Finish translating at least one more lesson in the Primary class VBS lessons. Update: Half done.

Wordless Wednesday: My son, the King

Some pictures from last night's elementary school play "Besos para la bella durmiente" (Kisses for Sleeping Beauty)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday: Update on Monday's Bites

I think yesterday was a prime example of the phrase "biting off more than you can chew" or perhaps it was yet another example of my natural tendency to get side tracked from the task at hand. Granted, my to do list was a little over the top. However, as I look back, it is obvious that I made a some choices that were not the wisest use of time. However, I do have pictures, links, and recipes. That alone makes for a fun post, right?

Let's look again at the lofty list of goals I had for the day.

1. The menu was penciled in on my magnetic note pad on the fridge but not (yet) posted to the web..... and probably won't be. Trust me, you are not missing anything special this week.
2. 2 loads washed, 1 dried, none folded or put away yet.
3. Expense reports were not touched. This was one of the not-too-wise time decisions. I offered to stay up late after my "planning meeting" with the hubby and do them but he said it wasn't crucial that we turn them in on today's deadline. We'll probably just push them off one more month. (unless I get a burst of energy to do them tonight between 9 and 11 ---- ha ha ha)
4. Strawberries are still in the fridge. I dare not take a peek since I have no time to do anything with them even if they are turning. They looked very good when I peaked on Sunday so I will deal with them tomorrow. (kind of makes me feel like Scarlett O'Hara --- tomorrow is another day, you know)
5. The kids were fed both lunch and dinner and I did get the lasagna put together which was an incredible blessing today when I was only home for 45 minutes between getting the theater ready for tonight's elementary play and returning to the school to pick up the kids and bring them home to feed them. Enough time to preheat the oven and pop the lasagna in to be cooking while I made the school run. Everyone ate well and we shouldn't have growling tummies during the play tonight.
6. My real time wasters were the new recipes I tried out to use up the peaches and the zucchini. The muffins were very sweet, not the texture I was really looking for but I probably would have realized that if I had read the recipe better. I kept getting distracted so we had some issues with burned bottoms and some undercooked trays. After all that (I doubled the recipe to use all the peaches I had cut up), half of the kids turned up their noses at them so I probably won't make them again. Should've just spooned the peaches into bowls and let the kids eat them with spoons.
This pie recipe did use up almost all of the zucchini I had but took a TON of time to peel, slice, de-seed, etc. Again, not the best use of my time. It was a bit disappointing warm and fresh out of the oven (would've been better with ice cream) and my hubby was not fooled into thinking it was apple pie. 3/4 of the kids really liked it the next day cold and it was more convincing as a mock apple pie today. Better time choice for yesterday would've been to a. shred it all and freeze for future zucchini bread or b. slice and add to the lasagna or c. saute and add to last night's meal. It sure did look pretty and smell nice cooking though.

7 & 8. Each of these areas needed more attention than I gave them. The weekly meeting with hubby went VERY WELL and we went beyond financial matters to discuss and make note of things that need to be addressed before I take off on a trip to the states and leave the rest of the family to fend for themselves without me for almost 3 weeks.

I'm off to dress for the theater .. that is, get myself and the kids ready to head to the theater where my #2 son will be king for the night in his school play. I hope to get some good pictures from the dress rehearsal to use in the school paper and to post here. Check back tomorrow for pictures. And head on over to 5 minutes for mom to see what others are tackling.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another week of Little bites .... time to make some serious headway on devouring these elephants

It's Monday. A new week. A fresh slate and a chance to make some major progress on my looming deadlines ..... a slip in some family fun (or at least try to avoid creating any of those memories that scar my children for life).
The weekend was great --- a fun(and profitable) time at the annual yard sale fundraiser for the MK school, two impromptu gatherings with friends that were so encouraging and uplifting to our tired spirits, and a blessed time at church yesterday. As time permits this week I will try to post more on the weekend fun .... we'll see. I did promise to give my son time to post on his blog (for the extended family and friends) about his deal of the day from Saturday. Not to steal his thunder but I'll just share one quote after he got his treasure home and found out it was as good as he thought. "Wow, Mom! I never thought I would have one of these! This is one of those toys only RICH KIDS have!"

Today's To Do list:
1. Plan menu for the week and post.
2. Do 2 loads of laundry
3. Complete at least 1 or 2 months of expense reports for the mission -- due tomorrow night but I will have no time to do them tomorrow.
4. Do something with the box of strawberries in the fridge. The plan is to make a batch or two of freezer jam --- it is that time of year to restock the freezer. Hard to believe but strawberry season is almost over here.
5. Make lunch and dinner for today and put together a lasagna for tomorrow's midday meal.
6. Do something with the zucchini and the peaches from last week's market trip that are rapidly reaching the point of no return.
7. Clear the front hallway and put away the few items that did not sell at the weekend yard sale that we brought back home with us.
8. Have living room straightened and dining room table cleared so as to be able to sit with my hubby for our weekly tv "date" (we love to watch Sue Thomas: F. B. Eye through the little box that we were given as a Christmas gift that allows us several additional TV channels and also allows us to switch the language on several shows back to their original English tracks).
9. Be prepared mentally and physically to have the first of our newly scheduled weekly money talks (hubby and I) after the TV date. Last week we sat down to look at the bank accounts and realized that the first entire week of the month had snuck by in a flash and I had missed the due date for making our monthly credit card payment. I hate that! We had the money in the bank account and because I didn't sit down at the computer for 10 minutes to make the payment before the 5th, we have another stupid late payment. We calmly decided (after a short, not-so-calm period of discussion) that one way to keep tabs on our money and avoid this is the future was to just meet weekly and take a look at the money situation and discuss what we needed to do that week and how it would happen. I chose Monday night. I think tonight's meeting should go well, especially if I have a couple of expense reports done and filed. Ü

Elephant Bites for this week:

1.Elementary play is tomorrow night. I will be working in the morning with the pta moms to transport the sets to the theater and then will feed the kids and get them to the theater in time for my son the King to be there for rehearsal and for the rest of the family subjects to watch when the curtain goes up at 7pm.
2. Sign permission slips and send in money for two field trips.

2. Plan and print out list of items to be collected and jobs that need to be done in the next month to distribute and discuss at Saturday's meeting.
3. Shop online for craft materials and "rewards"

Prepare for my upcoming trip --
1. Make schedule of which friends are picking up/watching the kids after school on which days
2. Start packing list of clothes
3. Work on the shopping list for when I am in the states. Note to self: add a pair of white flats to the list since I just noticed that the ones I am wearing have a hole in the toe.
4. Work on top secret computer related project. Ü (Can't go into details here since you never know who might be reading .... details will have to wait until June)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Tut Tut, Looks like rain!

I went into Princess's room the other morning to wake her up and found her sleeping with her pretty new (to her) umbrella. Of course, just as I came back in to snap the picture of her sound asleep she rolled over and woke up. Still a cute shot to me.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Big Bites for Monday

OK, I know the concept of little bites sounds great, but when you are really behind and the deadlines are looming closer it's time to kick it up a notch. Much of today has already gone by (it is 4:30 already) but I need to get some big bites out of the way today and I think that will go a long way towards helping me get my momentum going so that I reach my "finish line" on time.

I painted sets this morning for 2 hours. I almost finished the headboard and footboard for the princess bed. I hope to finish them tomorrow and then may just have to sweetly give my apologies to the other ladies but I am going to have to excuse myself from Wednesday. We are almost done so maybe we will have a good group there tomorrow and get it all done.

There's nothing like the lack of clean undergarments to get this Mom to tackle the laundry. The second load of laundry is in the washer right now, the first is in the dryer. A couple of loads from the weekend are on the table in the laundry room. Today I will get this
cleared off and put away, along with the things that are currently washing.

As I do that I will clean this

If I have time, I will get rid of the clutter here so I can be greeted to a better sight when I enter the apartment.

I am really hoping that those bites in the housework will help me have a more restful night and be able to focus my attention on other tasks tomorrow.

:::::UPDATE:::: It is now Tuesday and I thought I would post some pictures of the progress so far and go ahead and link this to the Tackle it Tuesday meme.

As of last night at bedtime the laundry room table looked like this:
One lone sock waiting for it's mate

The kitchen looked like this:

The hallway did not get decluttered but instead I decided to do the small thing challenge over at Home Sanctuary and swept and mopped the kitchen and the front hallway areas. So the front hallway shelf still needs to be cleared but the floors are at least nice and clean.

Today we made good progress in the set painting. The princess bed is almost done, (headboard and footboard, the rose arbor is done, and thanks to my idea to cut some sponges in leaf shapes, the trees in the forrest are well on their way to being done.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Getting back to the little bites

Summer is upon us here in sunny Spain. It seems like we are skipping over a very short season of spring and the hot weather is here. Whether it is here to stay is uncertain, and there are still several degrees to climb before we hit true summer temperatures, but my body is having a hard time adjusting to the change. Yesterday I worked on the set painting (there are only a few of us volunteering to do the job so we need to be there every morning for at least an hour and then others come and work a few evenings a week) and then came home to get a few things done around the house before heading back to the school to pick up the kids. Once again I had visions of great accomplishments in the afternoon/evening but after lunch I hit a major nap attack and had to lie down. Bad idea! I never wake up refreshed from a nap. I was out from 4:30 till after 6 pm and in a fog for the rest of the night. Yuck! I did get measurements done for #2 son's costume but that was it. Oh, and I got dinner made and the dishes done. That is something.

I thought my craft outing at a friend's house was yesterday morning but it is today. I have 2 hours before it starts. Here is what I need to do before I leave in approx 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Shower and dress
Read Bible
Put bean soup on to start cooking
Eat some breakfast
Throw a load of laundry in the washer
If there is time left, clear breakfast dishes and straighten living room/dining room.

I won't be back till after 2:30 when I come home with the kids from school .... at least I think that is the plan. The house should be good and quiet for my hubby, who is home today on his day off, to get some work done on the computer. If there is time later today I may try and get my belated Tackle it Tuesday post written up and posted. If it doesn't get posted today I will probably schedule it to post automatically next Tuesday.

On the wish list once I find out what my afternoon and evening schedule look like is to sew the tunic for #2 son's costume. We'll see how the day goes.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday Meanderings: May 5-11

The weekend was not as productive as I had hoped, although I did get a few things done (some from my goal list and others not). Princess is persistent, just like her Mama, and will a few more nudges I will be able to declare the long drawn out process of redecorating her room "finished". The goal list for today has to be fairly short to allow for a lot of time today on public transportation thanks to our car being in the garage (where it will be for at least the next two weeks) and the fact that #2 son is still dealing with health issues so we are going to head downtown (a good 1 hour each way) by bus, train, and subway to see the bilingual doctor that we really like. I don't mind the clinic that is just a mile from our house for most things but we went to this other doctor a couple of weeks ago and some new things are happening so I'd like to go back for a follow-up with the same doctor who already has a good idea of what my son is having for symptoms and what medicines he is on.

Here is the plan for today as well as some weekly goals:
Weekly Goals-
1. Finish costume for elementary play.
2. Write a Menu plan for the week and stick to it.
3. Finish translating the Primary Class lessons for VBS.
4. Mail insurance paperwork.
5. Read the Bible in English (this plan) and Spanish (the daily readings for SS lesson)daily.

Today's Plan:
1. Paint sets for elementary play. 9:15- 10:15
2. Start lunch and have it ready to finish when we get off the bus.
3. Finish washing dishes that didn't fit in the dishwasher last night.
4. Finish putting yesterdays 2 loads of clean laundry away and do one more load.
5. Take #2 son to the doctors (appt at 6pm. We'll be gone from the house from 4:30 to ?)
6. Post the weekly menu and write out grocery list.

Well, I feel good that at 12:45 I could already cross off a few items. And I have a half hour before I need to start walking to the bus stop to pick up the kids at school so I should be able to finish posting the menu and jotting a note for #1 son to preheat the oven when he gets home so that it is ready to throw the chicken parmesan in when I get off the bus with the others. I don't know yet exactly how the week will go so I am putting 2 meals for each day but they may end up getting switched around depending on whether we want the bigger meal midday or in the evening.

Weekly Menu
1. Chicken parmesan, leftover pasta with spaghetti sauce
2. egg salad sandwiches, chips, pickles
1. Fried rice, fruit salad
2. leftover chicken and gravy over toast or biscuits
1. White bean soup, salad, baguettes
2. BLT's, cucumber slices
1. pork loin chops with BBQ sauce, fried potatoes, mixed vegetables
2. omelettes
1. Pizza or homemade pepperoni rolls. (Does anyone have a good recipe for pepperoni rolls??????? that does not call for frozen bread dough since that doesn't exist here -- at least that I have found)
2. ?
1. Hotdogs at the baseball game
2. Macaroni salad with ham slices

Don't forget to head over to Tiany's blog for more Monday Meanderings and to Laura's for more Menu Plan Monday posts.

Friday, May 2, 2008

If at first you don't succeed

A phone call around lunch time changed the course of the rest of the day. Our coworkers (who are like adopted grandparents for our kids) wanted to know if they could come over and play games and visit in the afternoon/evening. They were going to bring dinner but I was in the middle of fixing something so I said I would just make two more servings and then put it in the fridge and cook it when they got here and we would grab sandwiches for lunch. We don't have that many opportunities to just get together and have fun with them and they knew we were housebound because of being without a car. We all enjoyed the unplanned visit but it meant that the only thing on my to do list that got done was the two loads of laundry. ("grandma" helped me fold and put away each of the two loads) And the upside was the major pick up that happened in the living room and dining room area. Now the house looks nice for tomorrow and we will just keep the same list of little bites for Friday.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Holiday bites

Today and tomorrow are holidays here in Spain and in Madrid in particular. I think one day is Independence day and the other is a Madrid area holiday but I don't know which is which. all that is important is that the kids are off school and even my hubby doesn't have to go anywhere because the store is closed. He does have a bunch of work to do from the home computer so this will be quick so that I can get off the computer and let him have access to it. I will make my list fairly short and hopefully will be able to cross things off later in the day and still have time for some fun with the family on our day together.
Bites towards the May Deadline Projects:
1. Translate for 1/2 hour on VBS material.
2. Make another phone call to the states for info.
3. Measure, cut out and sew the tunic part of #2 son's costume for the school play.
4. Gather credit card statements for 1/2 hour.

Home bites:
1. Do two loads of laundry completely (all the way to being folded and put away)
2. Follow the menu for lunch and dinner.
3. Have banana splits for a fun dessert with the family. Hmmmm, do you notice a daily ice cream pattern? This is not good for my ever expanding figure. We may have to come up with a better alternative and break this pattern before it is too late.
4. Straighten my bedroom. The plans to move the big piece of furniture out fell through so I have some more time before having to deal with that mess but I need to find the floor again and get some unwearable clothes out of the closet and dresser and off to the charity bin.