IMG_0143

Sun! Sand! Palma!

I am currently relaxing at home from a really awesome vacation.  The family and I went to Palma de Mallorca.  An island off the coast of Spain, the Balearic Islands are the place to go to when you want some sunshine and warmth.  We needed this and well Palma was perfect!  Palma is a port city as well, you will see cruise ships, cargo ships, yachts and the like sailing through.  The vision of boating coming in and out was quite fun.

The archipelagos were sight from the dreary fog and cold.  The palm trees looked lush and green along the coastline.  The sun warmed us and we knew that we would not want to leave.  Palma is the main city of the island, it is not very touristy (in my opinion) but we also did not go there during the summer.  We rented an apartment through Airbnb, which was awesome!  I highly recommend renting an apartment if you have kids, it will feel like home, you can save money on food and well, you don’t need to worry about leaving so housekeeping can come in.  We were able to relax and enjoy our awesome view!  SONY DSC

That is the Catherdral of Mallorca or Le Seu off in the horizon.  The sun is about to set, how lucky to have an opportunity to visit!

We got in late Thursday due to the strikes going on in France, but once we got to Palma and got settled, we were ready to settle in and get ready for the following day.

We got up on Friday and got ready, we had other plans but the kids kept seeing ads for the Palma aquarium.  So we changed our plans and went to look at fish!  The aquarium is literally across from the Playa Palma.  You saw some of the people that were at the beach walk over.  SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCThese are just a few of the photos from our venture to the aquarium.  But these few show the great place this aquarium is.  It is also known to have the deepest shark tank in all of Europe and it partners with other aquariums in countries like Israel.

After a day of hanging out with fish, we ate some!  One of the things I love about Spain is the amazing food.  Known for their tapas (small plates), Iberico ham, Manchego cheese, sangria and Paella!  The food of Spain, reflects the vibrancy of its people.  We went to a local place near our apartment and we ate this:  IMG_0143

This was a seafood paella, it was yummy and had a ton of mussels, shrimp, langostines and calamari.  It was so so good!  As you could see, my sangria was gone, it was tasty!  The boys shared a pot of clams.  They loved them! La Mejillonera in Palma on the Avenida Gabriel Roca is the place!  But so is Chicory which is down the street, it is a whole in the wall place that was amazing!  Check out my Yelp about these places.

We were full and happy and ready for bed.  We needed our rest to head to one of the great beaches, Cala Mayor.  Cala Mayor is one of the larger beaches and one of the best.  This beach was what we needed!  It was family friendly and all you could see was water.  It was the most relaxing day!  I loved it!  IMG_0145 IMG_0146My kids loved the beach, they always do and never wanted to leave.  Sun and sand, just what the doctor ordered.  They have other beaches, but Cala Mayor was the calmest, most relaxing beach.  I did not leave my chair!

The next day was Sunday, we wanted to attend mass at the Cathedral and sight see along the wall.  The Cathedral is amazing, the architecture of the church goes with the Palace of Almudaina which is right next to it.  Inside it was grand and very solemn.  Attending the service was wonderful and brought me back to when I was little and attending Spanish mass at my local church back in Portland.

The altar piece of the Cathedral was designed by Antoni Gaudi who designed the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.  The church was beautiful and I was so grateful to say I attended mass there.

SONY DSC SONY DSC

After mass, we walked along the wall.  This wall has been around for centuries but has been modernized while preserving its history.  The pool you see is to mimic the moat that once met the walls of the palace and cathedral.  It was a lovely walk with an amazing view of the port.  SONY DSC

We wanted to discover more of what Palma had to offer and went to the Arabic Baths.  This site was small but had an amazing garden with the prettiest lemon tree.  The Arabic baths are preserved well and show the Arab influence of much of Spain.

 

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCPalma is filled with history.  Pieces of a fortress from years past are up and around the city.  The modern with the old makes this not your typical beach city.  I liked that it wasn’t super touristy, you were able to experience the true Palma without anyone selling you anything.  The food (as always) was delicious and satisfying.   I will come here again and visit the other sites Mallorca the island as to offer.

The Balearic Islands are a unique place, you have Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.  I can’t wait to plan trips to these other islands and see more of Spain.

To live in Europe and get the chance to travel within the continent is an amazing opportunity.  To get to experience Palma and all it has to offer is fantastic!  Every trip we take is an adventure.  This is our last chance to be here and I will take advantage of every bit!  If you are ever stationed in Europe, travel and discover the wonders of this continent and have a full belly while you are at it!  This was a great trip and I am beyond happy!  Will. Come. Here. Again!

IMG_0154

SONY DSC

My first time and it was good!

It’s not what you think!  I made a pie on Friday, one that my oldest wanted to try after we watched an episode of Sorted Food on Tastemade.  I mentioned to him that Banoffie pie is a classic English dessert and well that started something!  He wanted it and I said yes to trying to make this dish.  Banoffie pie is a filling of ananas and Toffee with a biscuit crumb crust and topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top.  It was first created at the Hungry Monk in East Sussex, England.

I never knew what the fuss was all about, but after watching that video and having kids going to school with British kids, I had to try and make it properly.  So I went to the boys school and asked, they gave me the exact things I needed, but my main concern was the crust.  Biscuits in proper English is a cookie for us Americans, since I was making something that comes from the UK, if I didn’t make it well, I know I would hear it from my child and he would hear it from his classmates.  So off I went to research Banoffie pie and I came across a lot of recipes.  Each recipe made its own way, which I liked because that meant that this recipe is unique.  The sweetness from the bananas, the richness of the toffee melds together with the biscuit crust and whipped cream to create this really delicious and rich dessert.

I came across a really great recipes from the blog Three Many Cooks, this recipe was simple and one that I knew I would be successful with.  But then again, can a screw this up?  It looked easy, a slight panic set in.  Time to make pie!

The recipe itself is super easy!  The only thing you really have to make is the toffee or dulce de leche.  In the pictures below you will see the process.  Cooking the sweetened condensed milk takes time, you want it to be the perfect and rich consistency.  Per the recipe, I cooked it for 3 hours, which was the correct amount!SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCI was able to include the boys in helping with the graham cracker crust.  SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

SONY DSCThe end result was really cool!  I will say I did not make the whipped cream, I used ready whip which worked okay.  The next time I make this I will heavy whipping cream.  The dessert was delicious!  The banana and the toffee go so well together and it was not overly rich.  We all enjoyed it and I will be happy to make this again!  Do you have a new favorite dessert?  Share your recipe, I would love to try it!  And check out Three Many Cooks!  Their blog is excellent! Discovering new recipes is fun and sharing them with my family and with friends is a great way to learn new things and to be able to enjoy where are living.  It is all a part of this awesome adventure I call my life.

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

 

 

Give it away!

The past two years I have become a product junkie.  I love makeup and what it does for me, it almost provides me a mask that protects me from the outside world.  I was never really a make up person, I wore it but not the way I do now.  I prime, conceal, contour, enhance and highlight my face.  I rouge, lacquer and powder myself away and present you with a flawless more fabulous image.  Make-up allows me to present a shinier me to people and it gives me a bit more confidence.  I don’t wear it everyday, there are days when I just don’t have the time.

So in my adventure into make-up, I (in my mid 30’s) discovered various products that make me feel good.  And because they make me feel more confident, I have accumulated a lot.  It is ridiculous to tell you the truth, to have oh so many bottles of foundations, tubes of lipstick and palettes of eye shadow is out of control and wasteful.  My collection of glamour products is out of control and there is no way I can use them all.  I don’t need all of this and it would be a waste of money to throw it all out. I began watching some of my favorite Youtubers such as Tati and Young Wild and Polished.  They decluttered and talked about their unused or gently used items.  I needed to do this so I turned to google to find where I could potentially sell items.

As I kept searching,  I kept thinking why do I purchase items, when I don’t use them everyday?  5 tubes of lipstick?  Come on!  Enough was enough!  And then it popped up, donating to an organization that helps women in need.  It never occurred to me to do that!  Domestic Violence shelters, where women and kids go to for safety, they leave everything behind after years of being beaten down physically and mentally.  My goal in donating is not to say that they need make up to feel better, but if it means that they can use these items for whatever their needs are then my goal has been accomplished.  In my search I came upon a  blog by Renee Rouleau Skin, they are in Dallas, Texas and talked about what to donate and where.  They donate to a local shelter in Dallas but they encourage to do research and see where you can donate locally.

After I read this blog, my research changed and I discovered two other places that I could donate to.  The first search brought up the Beauty Bus.  They deliver a little glamour to terminally ill men, women and even kids.  They have mobile bus that brings a sink to wash hair, scissors and razors for cuts and shaves and a place to pamper.  I can’t imagine being in a hospital 24-7, treatment after treatment.  Providing this service to them to make them feel better and to get them out of the hospital room.  I loved this!  What a great thing to do for people!  The other organization is the local Dress for Success in my home state of Oregon.  If you are not familiar, they help women with a professional attire to be able to have the confidence and go out and get the job that they deserve.  So I kept reading and reading, I decided that these organizations need stuff more than me.  I have donated clothing  and food many times, but never did I think that I could donate my plethora of products.  If I am going to collect these items for the sheer fact of having these items will make me better, prettier, likable then what is the point of buying a brand new primer when I have three that I barely use?  If whatever I can give, even for a little bit, can help someone else.

IMG_0050

So here are my boxes, it isn’t just make up, I have sponges, lotions, face wash and the like.  I am not excepting these items to be the be all for someone in need.  It is better that someone uses them than having them sit on my bathroom shelves just for the sake of boosting my self-esteem.  I am glad that these items will be put to good use by someone who will truly use them.  That makes me feel good!  I am removing a layer of the mask and exposing myself to something new.  I do not all of these items, I am ok with the little bit I have and I like that.  If you are like me and you have a ton of products, donate them to your local shelter or organization.

Just like me!

I love being a mom.  I truly do but there are days, the days in which you specifically remember asking your child if they actually searched for the overdue library book.  Or did they pull everything out of their backpacks, those are the days that even though in the grand scheme of things do not mean much, can ruin any chance of a good day.

My sons are a little older, they are at an age where they don’t need mom following behind them picking everything up.  They can grab the bowls from the cupboard, they do not need me in the mornings to get their breakfast.  But this morning, this morning was a particularly frustrating morning, I literally wanted to pull my hair out.  This month has been crazy, activity, after activity.  Everyone is tired except for my youngest and he lately has developed a thing for talking back.  I can’t stand it!  When asked if he did something, he says yes.  When it turns out it is the opposite, I am wrong!  Ugh!  Are you kidding kid!  It has been none stop and I don’t get it.  This morning he had to get his swim bag ready and complained that he couldn’t find his swim trunks.  So immediately the search began.  He cried that he hung them up on the towel rack, which is odd because if he did they would have been there.  In his world he does everything he is told, it is someone else fault.  Someone else took it, he did everything as he was told.  And so when it turns out that he was wrong, disbelief sets in.  What!  No fair!  Yeah, mom is not fair, she found your stuff where it didn’t belong.  Ouch!

And no sooner does that happen, I am reminded of something from the past, me at his age doing the same thing with my mom.  I saw it in his eyes, the look of “how is that possible!”  And I hear myself, in my mother’s voice, all of a sudden I jolt because of the weirdness.  The circle of mother and child is never done, it keeps going.  And I am sure that when my kids have their own family, they too will jolt in the weirdness.  Being a mom, a parent is a unique.  We often see ourselves in our kids at the best and worse times. It is cool to them do things you have done in the past and yet, the moment they turn, there you are back as an 8 year old!  Ugh!  But they are my kids and are a by product of how I raise them.

Part of me gets scared, because I always worry that my kids will become the adult version of me.  I have had a hard time adjusting and now in my late 30’s, I feel more adjusted and more mature and like an adult.  I am always scared that I will screw my kids up.  And there are those time where I see them, so happy, adjusted and so smart.  I tear up at the thought that I am doing ok, I do not ever want to fail them.  I want to give them a normal life, different from mine.

In a way it’s cool that they are in some way, just like me.

Third

I was looking through Facebook statuses yesterday, just seeing how everyone was doing.  Looking at pictures, killing time before I finally got to bed and something a mutual friend said that stuck out to me, she stated that her kids were Third Culture kids.  I have heard of the term but never really knew what it meant, so I looked it up and it means a child raised in another culture outside of their parents.  As I read the definition, I wondered if maybe my kids were.

I continued reading and after reading the characteristics of a TCK, I realized that yes my boys are!  They are American kids, living in Belgium, attending a British school.  They have friends from Spain, Germany, Turkey, Ireland, Wales and Poland.  They interact with so many cultures here that at home, transitioning into our routine is weird.  I speak Spanish and teach them certain customs, they are beginning to develop a British accent.  They are experiencing things that I never in my wildest dreams think it could ever happen.  To raise kids is hard enough!  Add that we are a military family and who knows how they might turn out.  I get excited that they tell me what they had for dinner (that is what the brits call lunch).  I get excited that they are picking up new phrases, that they enjoy going to someone’s house and learning a new language and culture.

Could they experience this in the States?  Maybe but not like how they would here.  Military kids are the highest percentage of Third Culture Kids.  With so much moving around, these kids get to see much of the world.  They get often asked where are they from and they cannot tell you because they have moved around so much.  But can that be a bad thing as well?  I have read that they may have problems when they get older.  Not knowing who they truly are, not being able to interact with others, low-esteem.  As a parent I do not want my kids to suffer in anyway so to read this it does concern me.  Because if we are overseas again and they graduate from high school. I want them to be able to thrive and adapt.  Knowing that they will be safe and be able to take care of themselves, and continue to live awesome lives.

I am proud and happy to be raising Third Culture Kids.  They are going to have an amazing journey, I am glad that I can be a part of it!

Teaching

So it turned out that my youngest had homework during the week long break.  He forgot it and I told him that first thing Monday when they started back up with school, that he needed to put it in his backpack and bring it home.  Easy right?  No, he forgot it, the work is due Wednesday.  Now this is where it gets real (?) He finally brings it home last night and it is 6 pages.  He tried to avoid it, he played with the dog, he used a broken pencil.  I finally lost my cool and told him that he needed to start because it was due the following day.  He grumbled and started.

Now, it was math, the times table.  He is usually good at math and loves it but because he realized how long the work was going to take and that he had to do it himself, he started whining and getting upset. This was the teaching moment and I had to hold back helping him by giving him clues.  I needed him to learn that 1) he had a responsibility to bring home his work and finish it with a good amount of time so he wouldn’t be where he was last night, half way done at 9pm and crying because he didn’t finish.  2) That it is important to learn that sometimes mom isn’t always going to be there.  He grew frustrated and kept beating himself up because he forgot and was procrastinating.  He was not happy not in the slightest and when bedtime rolled around, part of me wanted to hug him and tell him that I would talk to the teacher and then I thought no.

I was never pushed to take care of myself, I was told that as long as I didn’t get pregnant at 16 and actually graduate from high school that odds are that I would be ok.  I just had to do those two things and my life would be awesome.  I wish my mom had more faith in me, but how I grew up as long as I didn’t follow the crowd, I was good, by my mother’s standards.  I wish she saw something in me, maybe I would have turned out differently.

I want my kids to be more self-sufficient and to take more responsibility.  Even though to be honest, I just want to protect them, keep them safe in a little bubble.  But I can’t!  The goal of a parent is to raise healthy, strong, respectful, smart and kind adults.  I want my kids to change the world in the best way they know how.  I want them to make amazing contributions to the world.

Last night was a teachable moment for me and my youngest.  The teaching for him, be more responsible and to remember that if you have something to at a certain time, never put it off.  For me, that I sometimes need to let them go every once in a while.  They will be ok!  They are so smart though, I always wonder how they got so smart.  Honestly, with them I learn something new every day!  The teachable moment taught me that they are okay kids and I am luckier for it!

Crossage! No not corsage.

On Ash Wednesday I became a local!  I participated in a game called Crossage!  This was so fun, there is no score keeping, all there is, is fun with a great group of people, local and delicious food and of course beer!

Crossage is like croquet but on steroids, tons of people in this particular region of Belgium play it.  What is great, that the town of Chievres, which houses the garrison for our region hosted and welcomed the U.S. with open arms.  There was no starting point, you just figured out where the closet keg was and off you went.  Each point was sponsored by a local group.  Each group provided a meal or a snack, one group was a motorcycle club, so sweet and they made an awesome onion soup, so good!

The entire gets into it, the houses board up their windows afterall you are going through actual neighborhoods.  Some people whacked the ball hard and got it to where it needed to be, others (me!) did the best they could but it was all in good fun.  To be able to be a part of something like this was fantastic and I hope to do it next year.  Getting to be a part of something like this you get a bit of culture that will stay with you.  Crossage has a great community feel to it, it was relaxed and overall fun.  It was a cold day, but after awhile, you didn’t care.

IMG_0061
This the view from the playing trail. It is the Notre Dame of Chievres

IMG_0062 IMG_0063

Time for a holiday

It is not what you think!  Ski week is next week here in Belgium and guess what, we get one week off to well go skiing.  Well we can’t do that BUT we can do other fun stuff because ski week also falls during CARNAVAL!  Yes, Mardi Gras as they call it in Louisiana, and Fasching in some parts of Germany.  I am so excited!  Some people go to Venice, where they wear the beautiful masks for this wonderful event.

images

It is a fun time!  In Belgium the city to go to is Binche, this city is a UNESCO Heritage city and are known for their celebration of Shrove Monday.  What is Shrove Monday you ask? Also called Rose Monday or RosenMontag in Germany, is the Monday before Ash Wednesday every year. A part of the English traditional Shrovetide celebrations of the week before Lent, the Monday precedes Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras.

In Germany, it is like Halloween, everyone gets dressed up in costumes, they have parade, town parties at the local hall.  It is truly an experience, I hope we can go to Binche as well for their festivities but for now, we will be going to Aachen for their Shrove fun.

Aachen is a very quaint city, known as the Charlemagne city because of its rich history with Charlemagne the Great.  The have a museum dedicated to him and his history, they even house his jewels.  They have beautiful cathedrals, their Rathaus (city hall) is unique and beautiful.  We are excited to get experience this once again.  Event though it is a religious holiday, their is something fun about shaking the demons out.  The last hurrah before you go to church on Ash Wednesday and start anew.  People have been doing it for centuries, every year it is a different reason, a different method and every year we start over and become renewed in our faith, our sense of being, our life as a whole.

It doesn’t have to be a religious thing, often religion isn’t part of this whole renewing of the soul.  It can just be you need a fresh start, so you go, shake out all the demons or old feelings or past mistakes and you begin again.  Start the new chapter!  Go on a holiday as they say around these parts and have some fun!  Who knows, you might come away with a whole new lease on life.

Happy Carnaval!  Happy Mardi gras!  Get out there and have some fun!!!

It’s handled!

I am taking a page out of the Olivia Pope handbook.  I handled it, the best I can.  We got some not so happy news yesterday.  I was down in the dumps, I did really well at not showing it for the sake of my spouse.  Deep down?  I wish the outcome was what I had hoped for but it is what it is.  The husband is fine, even though I think he is not happy with the outcome.  He is stronger than I am, one of the many reasons why I love him.  I have it handled!  I have ranted and shouted up to the sky asking why?  In the back of my head, there is a reason for everything.  What that reason is, we will find out in due time, for now I am holding myself back and really focusing on the positives in my life.  I have to!  If I do not, I am no good.

I was not expecting the outcome of the news of my spouses career, he still has a job, but the position he wanted just wasn’t his, yet.  Again, not his time, he will continue to rock the position he is now and that is okay. As I see fellow military friends happy for their spouses, I will congratulate them and know that my spouse will be there next.  I will always be proud of the hard work he has put into his career.  His love for his country and family is intoxicating.  I cannot and will not dwell on the bad.  All good moving forward and enjoying the ride till it is his turn.

I still think I may have put something bad out into the universe, the envy I felt because another fellow military spouse is popular than I am.  That our car is not so great, I have no career.  I was not a good mom to my kids.  Maybe I am just not a good partner to the husband.  What did I do wrong?  He doesn’t deserve all the bad I put out there.  I can’t think that,  it is not his time.  I can go through all the negative things I have thought about but none of it is the reason.  I also have to remember, it isn’t my career!  It is not about me, my feelings!  I am being selfish.  He is okay about it, I have to be as well.  Handle the feelings, get over it Erika!

So it’s handled.  Life happens and all we can do is enjoy Belgium.  Until next year!