Friday, December 31, 2010

Day or Night?

 We finally decided to take the little guys in to the doctor. Both have fought snotty noses and horrible coughs this month. With the holidays, Germany is about half way shut down- they love their holidays. The clinic on base was understaffed, so we were sent off base for their doctor's appointment. Practically every day we experience a new "first"... this doctor was no different. We were told to show up at the office between 2:30 and 3:00- in order to have less of a wait. We showed up a little before 2:30 only to see that their lunch break is from 12:00 - 2:30. The whole office closes down for lunch or their mid-day break. Kinda nice- for them. A reminder of the slower pace they move at in this country. We were second in line behind an older lady and still waited almost an hour just to see the doctor. Once it was our turn, we were taken in to the doctor's actual office. Kind of strange to sit down in front of his desk to talk. His English was ok, but he had his receptionist there to help translate. He was dressed in solid white which for some reason looked funny to us. He had on white jeans, a white v-neck sweater with white shirt underneath with white socks and slip-on {white, of course} shoes kind of like Crocs. No suit and tie here with the white doctor coat. Once he was ready to examine the boys, he took them one at a time to his little exam room just off his office- almost like a little closet. He said both have bronchitus, but Caden is definitely worse- so he started him on antibiotics. We let him know the coughing at night {all night} is horrible and asked for something. He asked what we had been giving them and to our surprise he had never heard of Nyquil. He explained he'd be giving them two cough syrups and what the doses were for each- one for the night, one for the day. Between his broken English and my little bit of German, I understood exactly what he was prescribing and even understood the quantities. If only I had written it down! Once we received them from the pharmacy, there were no instructions attached or dosage amounts! We couldn't even tell which was day or night... Jim's guess was the orange would be daytime? Good guess, we hope! In reading both labels- I get they're both for kids... still didn't get the whole translation. No teaspoons either... it's all in ml. Hopefully, we're close.
Not a bad experience, just a reminder to me that living here, there are going to be so many experiences not just in Germany but interacting with the German people. Re-learning the German language remains on my list of important things to do. We've heard over and over to really enjoy our stay here, we need to get out and take advantage of the things to see and do in Germany and Europe as a whole. To me, this means understanding their customs and language if only enough to get by. Even if you stay on base all the time and never get out on the economy there is still quite a bit of interaction with the Germans. Most civilian jobs on base are filled with Germans. With anyone, understanding along with being understood are huge- having a language barrier is frustrating to say the least- I better get to work! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

our master BATHROOM

I'm having a little trouble with our Master bathroom. It's super small- I can deal with that. You can use the toilet and wash your hands without even getting up- might be convenient some day. The issue I'm having is the same issue I'm having with this entire house- there's NO storage. I don't understand why the don't have any built-in storage in these houses- absolutely none. You've already seen our kitchen, or kitchenette (which is how I now refer to it) as my friend Teresa pointed out. Very few cupboards. In the bedrooms there are no closets- that's just the European way. They use wardrobes instead. The base loaned us seven of them- they're really not that large, but definitely helpful. We moved this one to our entry way to help a little with the coats and snowpants that end up everywhere. I'll deal with the bedrooms and kitchen when we actually have things to have to organize and put away.
In the meantime, this bathroom is driving me crazy- everything is just way too close to the toilet. There is a ledge to place items but, you drop anything and it's likely to land kerplunk in the bowl- totally grosses me out. I really don't like much to do with the toilet at all- even having to reach over it to get something is a struggle for me. Our last master bathroom had the ideal set up- the toilet was in it's own little room completely isolated with its own door. I loved it the minute I saw it. I don't think I've always been such a germaphobe but having 4 little boys has changed my perspective on the area around the toilet. It's just not a clean place- it doesn't matter how much bleach I use. Here, I'll just have to adjust since it's all within reaching distance- the sink, toilet and shower. I did find a bathroom cabinet on a used garage sale site here for $10 and splurged for it. Not a normal cabinet- it's made to slip right under the sink. It's a start.   

The box in on the ledge was actually left over from mandarin oranges we bought. We finished eating them and I was trying to figure out how to throw the box away. I took the netting off and put that in our yellow bag, then took the staples out- I've figured out metal. The wood- not so sure and it's not on my cheat sheet. So, it's a handy-dandy organizer for the time being. Oh, I've got a lot to learn.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

patience? tolerance? resourcefulness?

I'm trying to figure out what lesson I'm supposed to be learning. Patience, perhaps? When we left Kansas, we were told our household goods were supposed to be delivered no later than December 23rd. I knew that was close to Christmas, but being optimistic tried to believe our shipment might arrive even a couple days early and we'd be settled before the holdiays. We then found out that our no later than date was changed to December 29th- almost a week later.  I had come to accept this as unhappy as I was about it - it's really out of our control. This morning, we received the following email:


We received your Household goods shipment. Shipment reference number: KKFA0037175
Our offering date is: 29DEC2010
Please call us to set up an appointment for delivery of this shipment, also we need your *address with zip-code and contact phone number *
*/_The offering on your shipment has to be answered within 3 hours. _/*
*/_Otherwise another delivery date might have to be scheduled._/*
If offer date is not convenient, call us as soon as possible when residence becomes available. This is very important for planning your requested delivery date and our availability within a reasonable time frame.
Office hours 08.00 -- 17.00 Monday thru Friday , except on local holidays.
Doris Gospodarek

Tomorrow? Really? Jim's at the doctor since he's been fighting a horrible bronchitus/head stuff for two weeks so, I have no phone to call back. I ran to a neighbor's to borrow their phone only to find out it's turned off. So, I email back immediately (10 minutes after her initial email was sent)

Ms. Gospodarek,
YES, please, please, please... tomorrow is wonderful  will fit in with our schedule. ANY TIME At your earliest convenience will work.  We're here ALL day available. Our address is: 5d Hauptstrasse, Oberstaufenbach.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,thank you, thank you, thank you,
Sheila Dickey

I really tried not to sound too overly excited. But, come on... two months living out of suitcases and on horrible borrowed beds is long enough, right? My excitement didn't last too long. This reply an hour later popped my bubble:


hereby we confirm your delivery for 04JAN2011
Doris Gospodarek

What the heck? January 4th, I don't think so- that's another whole week. She said December 29th and I followed her rules replying within the three hour window. Something must be wrong, so I emailed back as nicely as I could.

We responded within 10 minutes of your initial email that the 29Dec (offering date) would be perfect. Could we please schedule our delivery for the 29Dec-as it was offered to us. We will be available the entire day at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,
Sheila Dickey

Nope- this was my response an hour later:

Mr. & Mrs. Dickey,

We are sorry to inform you that 2 of our drivers have called in sick for the rest of the week. Therefore, we are unable to delivery your shipment on the day initially offered.
Please accept our apologies along with our new offering date of 04 January 2011.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding regarding this matter.
Francis P. Potts

Seriously? Who's allowed to call in sick for the rest of the week and get away with it. It's only Tuesday. Again, nothing we can do about it. Guess January 4th is the date.

Monday, December 27, 2010

dang T O O T H

This silly tooth has been hanging by a string for a couple days. For some reason, loosing teeth is a major deal for Coleman. He just doesn't like it- at all. He's taken a lot of grief for it, especially from two big brothers who love to tease. Ty told him he wasn't going to talk to him until he pulled it out. That lasted all of about two minutes. He offered him an apple a bit later- nice brother. After his shower tonight, I threatened to tackle him and pull it out. Actually, I gave him the option of me or his daddy. Of course, he didn't want either. Bad mom, I know. I was just tired of hearing about it and really didn't want him to swallow it while sleeping tonight. So, I went in to take it- barely tapping it with the paper towel and it fell out without him even knowing. He was still screaming- mostly from being mad at me and a bit scared. Geez... what drama. Thank goodness I have boys- not sure I could have handled any girl drama! His daddy says he's going to be put into wrestling whether he likes it or not. He will be toughened up. On the other hand, Caden can't wait for his first tooth to loosen up. He's ready to yank it out already. Oh... such variety we have in this household!
Here's my much happier little guy who now looks like he's lost three teeth on top. Maybe there's enough space up there that he won't need braces... oh, we can hope!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

L I V I N G room

This is our living room- an absolute wreck. As with everything else, this move has been all about adapting to this new stage of our new life. Living in this rental house is helping me plan our dream house with a couple things we really like {rolladens, toilets off the floor...} and even more that we absolutely don't like {I'm trying not to focus on this... }. I love having separate living and family rooms- something we'll definitely eventually have again. While I've never been able to achieve an immaculate house, it's nice to have a living room that stays somewhat tidy and presentable. I've decided the immaculate house {in my mind} won't happen until my kids are grown- I'm finally ok with that. Life is moving too fast, I know I need to enjoy them while they're here- messes and all. I really also enjoy not having a tv in the living room. Another thing I'll just have to wait until we move to another house to enjoy. In this houes- this is it, one big happy living area. Right now, we're using temporary furniture from the housing office and a borrowed tv. We love watching movies (or tv) with the big boys once the little guys are in bed.  Before moving, we would pile up on our bed or on the floor in our room. In our hotel, somehow we squished together on our double bed with speakers hooked up to the laptop for a movie each night. Here- with all laminate wood floors, it's super cold, so we take the nice vinyl blue cushions off the couch and chairs to make a "nice" pad on the floor. It's uncomfortable at best, but temporary, right? I keep telling myself this.
Yesterday (Christmas morning), after getting up early with the boys we were all relaxing on the floor watching a movie. About 9:00am, our landlords showed up to wish us a merry Christmas. Imagine their surprise when Jim invited them in and they looked at the wreck of a living room- way worse than this photo. Again, they speak no English. She got about half way down the stairs and asked me (in German)... "Wow- the whole family... Is everyone healthy?" I know they've never seen so many kids in one house, and possibly never this much of a mess. I tried to explain we were all just sleeping. I think they'll be quite surprised to see when we have our real stuff we can actually make a house look nice even with having so many kids. They have one, maybe two kids over here so four kids is a shock to Germans! I really need to work on my German... it's hard not being able to explain myself! When we told the boys how surprised she was to see so many kids- Justin said, "Didn't they know we have 4 boys?" Without missing a beat Jim said, "Nope, we had to lie and say just two kids in order to get a contract on this house." Ahhh... so much fun.
On a positive... here's a deer we spotted in back of our house this morning. Caden thought it was a little guy, but Jim's pretty sure they're just all a bit smaller here. Any size, they're pretty cool to see running through the woods. There's a nice creek running through with big tall trees. I'm sure it's going to be beautiful once Spring arrives and things start turning green...  

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas! We really hope Skype will work this weekend so we can see and talk to our family! Yesterday, we decided to go for a quick drive. It had just started snowing, so we didn't want to go far, but enough to get out of the house. The boys didn't want to go so Jim and I went alone- we didn't complain! We drove about 15 minutes to a town called Kusel. I love hearing the church bells ring when I open our windows. I haven't figured out exactly what times, but they're beautiful when I catch them. Definitely sound and look like a scene a scene straight out of a movie. This first one is the church just around the corner from us. It's definitely on the smaller side as far as the churches around here go. I think the 2009 population of Oberstaufenbach was 258, so it's quite small- blink as you drive through and you'll miss it! They're all old, historic and beautiful.

This last photo is a typical view driving down a narrow road in a normal town. Lots of colors on the buildings and old, old, old! Very cool actually!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

the HELP

Before receiving orders that we had to move, I spent a lot of time thinking and praying for help to achieve a simpler, less busy life. I've been trying to prioritize a little better to reach a balance between work (our vinyl business that has kept me insanely busy the last three years) and play. I know how to work hard when I have to, but much prefer to play with my family. I've been striving to get back to more of the play. When I envisioned simple and calmer, this isn't {at all} what I had in mind. I can't think of a Christmas season {ever} that I've had so much time on my hands. I'm the mom who loves making Christmas cookies and candies then taking them to our neighbors. I bought a cookie tray a few weeks ago and had to return it because it was too big to fit in our oven. It wasn't even the big one- kind of the middle size one and it still doesn't fit. We miss our neighbors terribly. I love looking at lights and listening to Christmas music. I wish I had kept my Josh Groban Christmas CD {my very, very favorite} out- if only I had known there's a reason it's called the slow boat. As I mentioned before, there aren't so many lights here- at least in our neck of the woods. I usually love my kids home for Christmas break and having their friends over. Not so fun yet this break- we all miss our friends as well and are realizing even more how important our good friends are to us.
We're going to try to make it to a Christmas market tomorrow- they're the big thing around Germany. If we had our van, I'm sure we would have already gone. We don't all fit in our car which makes it a little rough to go anywhere- especially with slick roads. The slow boat could just get here any day now... still our household is expected NLT 1/10 and our van NLT 1/4. We'll see.
As a result of this free time, I've relied heavily on our library and have tried to spend my free time catching up on some reading. I love reading, it's just one of those things I haven't made the time for these last few years. I just finished The Help. Wonderful book about African American maids working in white households in the early 1960's. I had a hard time putting it down and highly recommend it. It's a quick read, easy to get in to from the start. A reminder to me that things are in my life aren't too bad. I'm thinking of going back and reading all the classics I skipped over all the way through high school {{with cliff notes}} and missed out on. I'm open for any and all reading suggestions...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

rot, wrote... same thing?!

Such a sweet note from our little Coleman waiting for us last night! He's still in that "sounding it out" stage of writing. You know- rot, wrote- same thing, right? Yes, we know all of our boys (BIG & little) picked up a little Kansan talk! Not sure why the b is backward on his "by Coleman"... but, we still got the message. Oh, the sweet things that get us through the day to day. I love my kids.
** can't get this photo to rotate for ANYTHING right now... going to have to stay sideways, sorry!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

no S E R V I C E still

At a glance, looks like Caden is talking on our house phone. Not so! It actually rings when someone is at the door ringing the bell. There's a phone on the main level and the lower level and ringers on the front and side doors outside. You can talk to the outside party without ever opening the door. Of course, the boys love this- especially since every time they go outside, they have to knock (or call) in order to have the door opened to get back in. Very annoying on both sides of the door- getting locked out, and having to open it every two minutes for little guys who can't make up their mind to stay in or out! About our house phone. I'm not even sure I want one now after paying our phone bill at the hotel. Phone service is (like everything else over here) very expensive. We applied for one (around Nov 25th) and were told we'd know within a couple days if we could even get Internet service. There are only so many available ports for Internet in our village. Even if the previous tenants had Internet service doesn't mean it's available for us. Anyhow, after waiting over two weeks we found out yes, we are eligible for service and they will be out on January 4 to hook it up. January 4th, are you serious? This was last week, so it took them over two weeks just to look up if we could get it and another three weeks to hook it up. Wow- so behind the times. In getting Internet, we are getting a home phone number- only because it's part of their cheapest package. I think if someone calls to our home phone from a land line it's $1.25 a minute to talk. Maybe only 20 cents a minute if someone calls from a cell phone. I think it might be for emergency use only- might be having to tell any friends I meet to just Skype me...  everyone has Skype, right?

On the other side- Germans consider being late very, very rude. If they say dinner is at 5:00, be ready to eat at 5:00. We've heard this over and over. Early is actually on time. But, if you're waiting for any type of service- forget it, you're on their time and they're in no hurry. To hook up our service on the 4th is an all-day appointment between the hours of 0800 - 1600 hrs- nice.  With one company having a monopoly of 95% of Internet service in our area- we have no other choice. In the meantime, thank goodness our neighbors (Americans) are still letting us link in to their wireless connection from our house.

Monday, December 20, 2010

winter W O N D E R L A N D

As much as I've referred to snow in the last few weeks, you would think I've either never seen snow or I absolutely love the white stuff. In fact, neither is true. I think I've had enough snow to last my entire life and definitely prefer temperatures in the 90's and 100's. I don't ski and failed miserably at my attempt(s) years ago to snowboard. Once the cold hits, no matter how many layers I'm wearing, I seem to always freeze up like a popcycle- numb from the toes on up. That being stated, I'm trying to figure out myself why I'm so fascinated with it right now. It snowed all weekend, then last night rain was falling melting it away. This morning out of now where it's dumping more snow. Huge {{beautiful}} snowflakes. It looks like a picture-perfect winter wonderland. As crazy as Germans are about Christmas, we just haven't seen that many lights outside. We're guessing it's because of the high cost of electricity- it probably isn't too practical. That's just a guess. Without lights, the snow definitely has made it feel more like the holidays.
Justin compared it to cotton. The other three just run for their coats and boots to head out and play. Well, Caden prefers to shovel (of course) the others play. Ladybug runs her crazy circles outside, then is ready to be inside where it's warm. We heard the other day that this winter is supposed to be colder with more snow than this area has seen in a thousand years. Maybe our transition would have been easier if we had moved in the Spring. Nothing like a big, cold... Welcome to Germany!
A couple laws we found out about dogs from the newcomers orientation...
** If you leave your dog in the car {even with the windows cracked} and the police see- they can break open your car, let your dog run free and leave you a ticket. Nice.
** If you leave your dog home and it is heard barking for more than 30 minutes... the police can and will break in to your house, let your dog run free and leave you a ticket. Maybe this is why Germans take their dogs everywhere.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

yet even M O R E snow

It's still snowing... just crazy to me for some reason. It was quite peaceful watching through the windows today in the warmth of this house, as bare and sterile as it feels. Big flakes, slowly falling- so much like Alaska. Ty spent most of the day outside. Jim even contributed helping him finish off his snowman- it's huge, pretty cool. Ty then moved on to his snow fort that Coleman had fun playing in as well. Quite entertaining and drains a bit of energy at the same time- great for little boys and big boys.
On a side note, we went to our first social event last night- Jim's Christmas party. I could have been just fine skipping this one since I have NO clothes, the BX had NOTHING I could wear and I can't figure out German sizes or stores yet. Yes, their sizes are all different, too. According to my little handy guide- a size 8 1/2 shoe is like a 38 1/2 over here. A size 34 bra is actually a 75!? Pretty sure when I'm ready for new bras, I'll have to just have to just guess and order online, or let the little German ladies figure it out for me over here. For kids, a size 6 is 116 and size 8 is 128. Yes, a little more than I can deal with or remember right now. Thank goodness a friend (my only friend over here thus far) saved me and dressed me... thanks, Laura! It was at a pretty cool soccer arena about 30 minutes from here in a real city- Kaiserslautern. Jim has already been there and pointed out the hardware store to me- looks like Lowes, so I was excited! We actually laughed most of the evening with some really great people- something we weren't expecting but both REALLY needed. It was a buffet with amazing food. Our first taste of this German cuisine and it was actually wonderful.

I tried to order a tap water from the server who let me know they don't have it. Yeah, right. Most of the time (we've heard), they won't give it to you since they don't make any money. The water here is really crisp and wonderful, not sure why they don't drink it. Seems it would be the "conservative" way of Germany to drink their own water- I'm sure it's straight from the Alps. To avoid getting mineral (carbonated) water, I guess you're supposed to order either with gas or without gas. Even ordering it "without gas" I got the bubbily, minerally stuff. Not too bad though. To make Jim's night... we had just met a lady at our table. After just a quick "Hello, my name is Sheila..." She said, "I'm trying to figure out where you're from. Your accent sounds like something from Arkansas..." Seriously? To think when we moved to Kansas, we used to laugh at our friends sounding a little like hicks... did three quick years change my no-accent Alaska voice? Jim thinks this is so funny, especially since she didn't say a word to him about his speaking and he's the one from KENTUCKY! Go figure! Everything else about Kansas grew on me, why not the accent too?

Friday, December 17, 2010

more S N O W

It's another SNOW day here, so the boys started their Christmas break a day early. Three snow days in two weeks... wow! I'm not big on snow {{or winter}}, but it is providing a little entertainment and stress relief for the boys. Justin and Caden were shoveling this morning and I'm sure Ty and Coleman are headed out soon to work on a snow sculpture of some type.

I finally took (and passed) my driver's license test this week, so I can actually DRIVE! It definitely wasn't without a little stress and studying! Jim took his in KS before we left so he could drive as soon as we arrived. He knew how tough it was and helped me study- it's because of him that I passed the first time. It's pretty normal to have to take it more than once, in fact I think more than half in the room with me had to re-take it. It was a 100 question test which wouldn't normally be too tough except it's Germany- the driving over here is completely different. With very few traffic lights, it's all about who has the right of way and getting used to the round-a-bouts. Now, if our van would get here... we could actually go somewhere all together as a family!

A few other interesting things straight out of the study guide...
** "Inconvenience" is to make more noise than necessary including letting the engine idle for more than 30 seconds (doesn't matter if it's cold)
** Curves- Drivers must slow down well before entering the curve and accelerate at the end (don't think they ever slow down AT ALL)
** If you run out of gas on the Autobahn, you may be fined. (Germans seem to have NO tolerance for stupidity... I do like this)
** Good Samaritan Law applies- if you don't stop at an accident to help, you will be punished by imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or by a fine. Supposedly, police set up mock accidents to test this out.
** If you're in an accident in the winter and don't have proper tires on your vehicle, another fine. Makes sense.
** All vehicles are required to have warning triangles in them in case you break down. They check this before you can even register your car.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


All trash is not created equal here in Germany. Their recycling system is actually quite impressive- a way of living, not optional. While I understand the wisdom behind it, it's not easy for a girl who has {{never}} recycled in her life. I about freaked out when we saw the size of our garbage can. I think it's about 1/4 of the size of our old trash can and we had trouble fitting everything in it for our weekly pick up. I now realize that not much goes in there- it's all separated in different bags. It's crazy to have to actually think before throwing something away.

The bags were all delivered to our house with a little information note attached. Even including the English translation, it's still a little tricky to understand. The number of bags you get depends on your family size- you can't buy them at the store, they're delivered twice a year. We have clear, yellow and blue bags. Clear is for glass only which is only picked up every four weeks. Blue is for clean paper, cardboard, newspapers, magazines. But, no paper towel or anything dirty. This is picked up every two weeks. Yellow is for synthetic materials, metals and composite materials. Not to be confused with compost as I did... Only plastic containers, cartons, aluminum, foil, lids. Milk is sold in half gallon cartons which are easy to wash out and fold flat- using less space. Everything has to be washed out (or spoon clean). Our schedule says this gets picked up every two weeks, but we still haven't had ours collected- not sure when. Everything else goes in the black "regular" garbage can which is collected every two weeks as well. Right now, our trash sits out like this (along with another bag next to the sink for wet items) which drives me crazy... but, once we get our houshold goods (including our trash cans) I'll better be able to organize. All in time...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Landstuhl Hospital

I'm trying really hard to focus on what I'm grateful for especially with times being a little challenging right now. Lately, I've focused on how blessed I am to have my family healthy and to have my husband home. A couple weeks ago, we ended up in the ER at the hospital here- Landstuhl hospital. I had a UTI that I had been fighting for a couple weeks and needed to be seen. It was the weekend, so we had to go to the ER, the clinic was closed. Before arriving here, we heard this was one of the best hospitals in the world. I think it is the largest hospital outside of the US. You don't usually think of a military hospital as being one of the best in the world- this one is.

Landstuhl treats all patients, trauma and non-trauma, evacuated from both combat zones (Iraq and Afghanistan), to include coalition military members and civilian government employees and civilian contractors. We knew before coming over here that the soldiers from the war were transported to this hospital. Sitting in the waiting room brought the reality of the war to life. While waiting to be seen, they brought down four or five soldiers from the upper levels of the hospital to transport elsewhere- likely back to the US. Obvious they were injured in combat; seeing them, we felt closer to the war than ever before. Almost felt like being in the middle of the war zone. As the elevator doors opened and the stretchers were wheeled out, each soldier had different injuries- some more obvious than others. One image I will never forget was a soldier with stitches all the way around his head. I couldn't help but wonder what damage was done and what road he had ahead. Another looked as though he had an arm injury or possibly lost his arm in the war. It was bandaged from top to bottom. Each was lay still on the stretcher- most looked heavily sedated. There was almost a reverence in the waiting room- a quiet as each passed through. These soldiers and what they sacrificed made me feel as though my UTI was no longer of any significance. I also couldn't help but feel grateful to them for their service and also overwelmed with emotion as I sat there holding my husband's hand.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

happy birthday J U S T I N

I can't believe my little boy is 17 years old today! Lucky for us, we have little Caden to remind us of exactly how Justin was as a little guy! No Texas Roadhouse for dinner, or even steaks on the grill. He's had a good attitude though, I think he requested Subway for dinner tonight! We'll get back to his favorite- steak and shrimp next year! Happy Birthday, Justin!!!

It just wasn't the same- he really missed his friends...

Monday, December 13, 2010

It has to get EASIER

It was a nice weekend with plenty of down time. Sundays are family day in Germany- a concept that I do love. You're not allowed to work outdoors (no lawn mowing, etc...) and it's a quiet day. It actually was nice to have a family day to just chill together.
Today started out alright. I had a spouses orientation on base for 3 1/2 hours. Jim went in to work, left to pick me up and drop me off at my class. He kept Caden in his office for the morning. At 12:30, my class was over so he picked me up and drove us both home and dropped us off since he had to go back to work. We had to go around the table and say our name and how long we were stationed here. Out of no where, I fell apart. Tears didn't flow but my eyes welled up and I struggled to talk. I got my name out, it was the "t h r e e y e a r s" that I had a tough time saying. It's been a long three weeks, how am I going to make it three years? Of course, the AF Chaplin was in there waiting to brief us, and a family support person ready as well. I think they were both ready to take me in and give me therapy or religion since their comments were totally directed to me. I let the Chaplin know I really was ok, I haven't cried for 2 weeks now... doing better. Anyhow, I learned good information- lots of the German culture and got some help with RECYCLING... aah... so complicated!

Not long after Jim dropped us back off at home, I went outside with Lady and Caden followed... closing the door behind him. Another thing we can't figure out are these doors. They lock as you close them- they're awful. So after 3 years of yelling to keep the doors shut to keep the AC in, we're saying... make sure you don't close the door and get locked out. I always put a towel in front of the door because I've been so afraid this would happen to me. It did. I found a neighbor across the street home, thank goodness as I showed up with a dog and kid as I'm wearing slippers- nice. Then, I didn't know Jim's number at work or even what unit he's in. I know it's Headquarters something which means nothing since this base is Headquarters for everything in Europe. I finally called the school, asked for them to look up his office number (he wasn't in his office, of course), then got his supervisor's number which we happened to leave as an emergency number. He finally tracked Jim down and I got the call back that he was on the way. It has to get easier... I keep telling myself. I think we'll be getting extra keys made to keep outside.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Centigrade to Fahrenheit

We have this thing called the Find-It-Guide. Maybe, I should use it more. It's a pretty cool book aka the phone book here. In the middle of it there are all kinds of helpful things... how to get around, driving in Germany, Recycling (still trying to figure it out), restauraunts and a FULL page of just conversions. The first day we arrived, Jim's sponsor dropped us off at our hotel and showed us a few things. He showed us how to open, crack and shut the windows, and how to open the blinds. He's the one who helped Ty flush the toilet. And, he said... on the oven that 200C is 350 degrees. Easy enough until we went to cook for the first time- didn't work, we had to crank the stove up to about 250C before our food started to really heat up. So, moving in to our house, I didn't think it would be different- wrong. Tonight, we threw in some mini pizzas for dinner- personal pan size. I just cranked the oven on to what we had it at the hotel- somewhere around 275 degrees C thinking that would work. Of course, buying them at the commissary, the directions are all in F... Yep, they're toast. Jim went to check on them- the next thing I know he's throwing them outside to avoid smoking our house out. Heaven help us if the alarm goes off- we'd probably NEVER figure out how to turn it off and would end up with the German Fire Department at our house! Looking at our Find It Guide (after the fact) 260 C is about 500 degrees... yep, trying to broil our pizzas, not so good! Might have to rip this page out and keep it on the fridge! Have I mentioned how hard it is to adjust over here? We did have a nice chicken salad to go with our pizza. Without bowls, we had to mix it up in our pot. Oh, some day we'll look back on this time and laugh, right?

Just an example...
If you want... ask for
1 oz.... 25 grams
1/4 lb... 113 grams
1/3 lb... 150 grams
1/2 lb... 227 grams
3/4 lb... 340 grams
1 lb... 454 grams
I'm not a numbers person to start with... how am I ever going to remember this? YIKES!

Friday, December 10, 2010

my new workout

Stairs... doesn't this look like a LOT?! I never ever remember even thinking before walking up or down our stairs in Kansas. We had a ranch-style home with a daylight basement. Oh, I miss it! Justin said we had 13 stairs- not sure how he remembered that! Don't know how I didn't remember after walking them how many thousand times? In our house now, I don't go up or down without thinking of how many stairs we have. With three floors of house, we have two full staircases- 15 stairs in each set. For some reason, it seems like a lot of stairs to me- especially as I go from the top floor with laundry down to the lower level laundry room, then back up to the top. Yes, I'm out of shape, and I know I sound crazy. I guess they had to build the houses up in order to make room for all the people in this small country. Our 4 1/2 acres in Kansas seems like heaven now being surrounded on all sides with neighbors!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

a couple COOL things

There is a lot that we just don't get over here. I'm sure it's part of any culture- simply differences we have to adjust to since we're in a foreign country. I don't get why there is NO storage over here. Maybe the reason IKEA is so big. Not even a cupboard under the bathroom sink and NO built-in closets. I don't get it. There is a big problem with mold in bathrooms since they don't have fans. I guess you're supposed to keep the window cracked, but I don't get why they don't just put in a simple fan. The hotel we stayed at was nice, but the mold in the bathroom was awful. So gross to me. On the flip side, we've already discovered a few cool things they do over here.
** Blinds are on the outside of the houses. What a cool idea especially since I HATE dusting blinds. Jim loves it because they make the room super dark when you close them- better chances of Coleman & Caden sleeping past the crack of dawn. Of course, it's already super dark right now being winter, but I'm sure we'll love it even more once we have a little daylight again.
** The windows are pretty cool. It's a litle hard to see from this photo but, if you turn the handle upward- it cracks the window open from the top. (handy in the moisture-trapped bathrooms) It seems almost as if it's going to fall out of the frame. Turn the handle to the side and the window opens all the way, just like a door opens on the hinges. Super nice to clean them- especially the 2nd and 3rd stories of most houses. Handle straight down locks the window shut. I still have to think before opening a window... every single time... but think they're pretty cool.
** Toilets are mounted to the wall, not the floor. Why? So you can clean under them. I love this idea- especially with a house of boys who sometimes miss the toilet. I especially love this idea with four toilets to keep clean in this house. No more nasty screws to clean on the floor or the stupid plastic screw covers that NEVER seem to stay on to hide them. Oh, I LOVE clean bathrooms.
** Continuing with the bathroom, we have super cool towel-drying racks in our bathrooms. You adjust the heat with the twist of the knob. Turn it on a little when you get in the shower and you have a warm towel to dry off with. Hang your towel up after use and it drys quickly. Cool idea.
** They use duvets rather than heavy quilts. At least at the hotel they did. Makes sense especially when you consider washing the lightweight cover would be much quicker and use less electricity. Again, that conservative lifestyle Germans live. On the down side- NO sheets - just a bottom sheet and the duvet. This drove me crazy at the hotel since I ended up in the crack every night. For our bed, we had two singles squished together, then each our own duvet. Since clean, crisp sheets are on my top 5 FAVORITE things in LIFE, I don't see giving them up any time soon. Also, I love my blankets... but, the duvet thing is a cool idea. I'm sure I'll be adding to this list...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

1, 2, 3, 4, 5... ready or not

The boys had a great game of hide-and-go-seek over the weekend. I'm pretty sure the big guys had more fun than the little guys. Kept all four of them entertained for a solid two hours, which isn't always so easy to do! When it was Coleman & Caden's turn to hide, Justin and Ty would count then yell "Ready?" Without fail, the little guys would give away their hiding places yelling back with a huge, "READY." Ahhh... so much fun! Caden fit well in this cupboard (Justin's idea), then Ty decided to squeeze in. The door actually closed- Justin didn't fit quite as well! With no TV, they're definitely coming up with other things to occupy the time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ty's German S N O W M A N

Oh, my sweet Ty has so missed the snow! He's my one kid who misses Alaska weather. The rest of us- not so much! It's still snowing- the wet snowball kind of snow. We took the scary drive in to town last night for Coleman's music program; Ty stayed home- outside the entire time working on his snowman. He made the snowballs in back and carried them up our steep side to be able to set his snowman up in front. He was tired! He also had time (with Caden as his partner) to have a snowball fight with our new (German side) neighbors. I'm sure they're happy to see us move in, haha! Ty's bloody noses have returned along with winter, but he wouldn't let that stop construction on his mega-man. Today is a snow day, so I'm sure he's going to put the finishing touches on him. Plus, I hear there may be a SnowTay in the making... I think we shoveled maybe a couple times (total) in the three years we spent in Kansas. Oh, not the case here. We have read it's the law to keep your sidewalk clean. After meeting new neighbors (across the street) last night, we learned these Germans are no joke. They had the police show up at their door to let them know they better shovel or they'd be given a ticket. Guess we won't wait for our household goods (including 3 shovels from Alaska) to show up... we'll be buying one ASAP. As expensive as it is here, we definitely can't afford a ticket!

Monday, December 6, 2010

half a S I N K

I woke up this morning feeling ready for the new week. Snow is once again falling, and I'm working to appreciate its beauty. This is the view out my bedroom window. I decided to try really, really hard to change my outlook and be a little more positive. Then, I did the dishes. We rarely leave dirty dishes overnight, but last night was one of those nights. I just don't know how Germans do it! We have a dishwasher, but don't really want our SOLO dishes to melt so we've done them by hand. Plus, we only have 1 pan and 1 pot right now, so what you see on the counter is it! The boys have been drinking out of Gatorade bottles, Jim's actually been using a cleaned out Smucker's jelly jar. We all know it's temporary. Doesn't seem like it would be that hard to wash, right? Wrong. Feels like I'm camping with NO space. We do know we have to get an island or table or something to extend the work space and move the microwave. That will free up the 2nd half of our "counter" and help a little. But, on top of this limited counter space, I only have one side of the sink. What the heck? Thankfully, my parents taught me really well to hand wash dishes (thanks, m & d) but... how am I supposed to do it with only half a sink? There's no place to rinse without making a mess! I've tried filling the sink with water and the dishes, then set them up on the 2nd (useless) side to rinse. Problem is you can only fit about 2-3 things up there at a time to dry on my laid- out towel. By the time I'm finished, I'm soaked as the water goes everywhere... It was really fun trying to rinse the pot with the sink still full of water. Guess I should have done it last?! Who knows? The dishes are clean, but I know there has to be an easier way!