Thursday, March 31, 2011

lame P A R E N T S

I thought we were finished with winter-time sickness. We're all still a bit congested {always}, but I attribute that to the mold here- something we'll just have to get used to by toughening up.

Time to change out the toothbrushes- again. Strep throat has struck our house. After three {3} days of Coleman complaining about a sore throat {and us pushing him out the door without breakfast} I took him to the doctor this morning.

Yep, a positive strep test. Wow- don't we feel like lousy parents? Jim's been home in the mornings to get him off, so I can't take full credit for this one- we did it {wrong} together. Pretty lame as we completely ignored his pleading and tears to just let him stay home from school. Everything is always worse in the morning, we figured as soon as he got going, he'd be fine.

Wrong. I'm making it up to him by staying in bed this afternoon watching movies. Hopefully, that will be the memory he retains rather than the mom and dad who made him go to school and offered very little sympathy. He loves school and his teacher is fabulous, so I knew something must have been bothering him a little. We just thought he was looking for a couple days off. Even worse, we threatened him that we'd take him to the doctor- which terrifies him now after a long hospital stay last year {with plenty of pokes and IV's}. Now, he gets the time off and plenty of sympathy. Poor guy.

It's just sometimes just so hard to know when it's the real deal. No temperature, still eating some, whining... he was missing the usual symptoms that accompany strep. Ty usually gets strep every year and he's our only kid without tonsils- go figure. This picture above of Ty is what I think a kid with strep should look like... sleeping! Yes, he fell asleep in the tub- he was so, so sick. Proof- no two kids are alike.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

what he does for F U N

He drives me crazy. With a lot of his daddy and perhaps a little of me in him- he's non-stop ALL the time. We just don't get it. When he wants something he wants it right now and he doesn't put off a thing. Great qualities for later in life, but in the meantime he wears me out! This week, it was the cars.

He absolutely had to vacuum them {both} out- the van yesterday, today the car. It's been probably a whole week since he last did it.

I should be grateful, but it's kind of a fiasco to get our vacuum out and plugged in. We left our good vacuum in Illinois, so we're using our shop vac with the long hose attached. Not the greatest scenerio, but with a house full of laminate flooring, our rugs are all that need to be vacuumed. We could {and should} break down and buy a real vacuum, but we haven't just yet. Then, it's the whole power thing, dragging a transformer close to the door to reach the cars. It's just a pain. I shouldn't complain.

Along with every other kind of work... this kid LOVES vacuuming out the cars. A bit like his daddy, he takes out the mats and throws away the trash if any has been left behind. So thorough for a five-year-old, we just know he'll make a great husband if anyone can keep up with him. Today, he apologized to me for not getting to the windows. This is what he does for fun, how crazy is that?

As frustrated as I get with him as he buzzes non stop, it's hitting me that an end is in sight of having my baby home! Today, I pre-registered the boys for school in the fall- all four of them! He's finally decided he's excited for school and ready to go. Good thing since he doesn't have a choice.

It's full-day kindergarten here, so he'll get on the bus with the big boys and come home on the bus as well. I'd probably be freaking out about this if I had to send him off alone. With Justin, Tyler and Coleman I think he'll be fine.

What in the world am I going to do with an empty house ALL day... just Lady and I? Pretty sure we'll be ok...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

gardner S N A K E S

We have these holes in our pathetic little patch of grass. Lots of them- perfect little circles scattered sporatically in the area. I've been watching them, trying to figure out what little creature is burrowing its way around.

Last night, while putting the little guys to bed {always when our most profound conversations occur} I mentioned it to Jim. My guess is that they're little snakes, but it seems too cold at night still for them to be moving around. Maybe they're just wait for the heat in Kansas. 

Joining in, Coleman said, "They have snakes in Germany?"
I answered, "Oh, there are probably little gardner snakes here- nothing too big."
He responded, "Good thing you don't have a garden here, otherwise you'd have gardner snakes."

Jim corrected us both letting us know they're actually called garter snakes, not gardner snakes. Whether they're here or not, we have yet to discover.

Monday, March 28, 2011

our new P O O P E R scooper

My {German} neighbor was out mowing their yard this evening. At the same time, her husband was tilling up their garden plot. Emotionally, it's set me back just a little bit. Ok, I'm really sad- it's making me so homesick for Kansas. I've gone a few weeks {maybe even a month} without crying, but I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes over this.
I'm missing it all- our land, our garden, our acreage, my flowers. That's what we are supposed to be doing. If there is one thing we love to do about this time of year- it's yard work. Mowing, planting, weeding, seeding, tilling, pruning, planning... all of it.

Last week when I put my little pots of flowers out, I told Jim that was it. I said I wouldn't spend another dime on flowers. I'm going to have to go back on my word- I just can't do it. I have tried and it's been torture. I miss the dirt and the work and the fresh air.

Taking a walk or hike every day is great, but there is nothing like weeding the garden or deadheading the flowers in my pots or watering.

Oh, watering. I love to water. I've been in trouble more times that I can count {with my dad} for leaving the sprinklers on while living at home. I think I was a pretty good kid, but I loved to run water. Jim kind of let me do my thing knowing it was easier to let it go than to try to reason with me. Without a sprinkler system in Kansas, I had plenty of room to continually move my sprinklers around pretty much around the clock. There's not much more beautiful to me than a freshly mowed, groomed, super green front yard.

Without a yard to work in I've decided I'm going to have the most beautiful, overflowing flower pots next to our front door- on our entire Hauptstrase. Caden and I are heading back tomorrow for more. 

Everytime I step outside now that the German wife is out, she immediately says, Hallo or waves or smiles- first. I can't figure it out. I did add a little Willkommen to our front door- maybe that's it. I I don't think I've ever yearned for acceptance or approval from someone as much as I have here. It's the craziest thing. Usually, I just do my thing and I'm not easily offended. Here, I just want them to know who we are and what we are like- that we're more like them than they'll ever know. We work hard and have pride in ownership. We are good people.

While outside yesterday, I decided to scoop poop while Jim was brushing Lady out. Johannes saw me, came over and handed me a pooper scooper {the genuine thing, not just a plain old shovel}. He motioned how to use it and let me know he didn't need it- that I could keep it. I was so happy- how stupid is that? All for a rusty old pooper scooper- so dumb.

I wasn't so happy for the actual pooper scooper itself, but that he saw us out there keeping things up- making it look better. The fact that he came over to talk to us. I'm ordering prints of our land and house in Kansas to make in to an album so I can go show them how nice we can make a yard and even a garden look. While on order, I'll be working on new pots for our front door. Ridiculous, I know.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

a L I T T L E behind

We had to spring ahead last night as the end of daylight savings time for us here in Europe. Have I mentioned yet that we think this country is just a little behind since the time changed for the US last week?
A couple other things I've noticed since we've been here {and I still laugh}...

The color on these houses is no joke! I'm guessing these must be wealthier people, they even have the colored roof
 * The Casey Kasem Countdown was on the radio just last week from 1986.
* I turned on the radio the other day {in the car} to hear George Michael... "I'm never gonna dance again... guilty feet have got no rhythmn..." and I actually remembered the words even after not hearing it since jr high or so. This is on their pop station... also caught a note or two of Duran Duran, I think that was sixth grade for me. I think they love the '80's.
* Big bangs and colored {pink, purple, red} hair are very common.

I'm sure I'll be adding to my list...  Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

T R A C K season has begun

LOVE, love, love track & field season! Today was the boys' first meet up in a city called Wiesbaden. Beautiful, beautiful scenic drive with rolling hills and vineyards for a good stretch of it. Breathtaking and it's not even full and green yet.

Of course, I love watching my boys {the most}, but I could sit and watch these kids ALL day- every single event. The races are so exciting and so fast! These kids are just amazing athletes.

On a down note- today did make me really miss watching my Mulvane kids. It was also a bummer that Ty's struggled with shin splints this week and didn't make the meet. We've been doing tons of stretching, ice, ACE bandages, new running shoes {since the shin spints kicked in} and Mineral Ice... any other suggestions?

Justin did shotput and threw the disc. He's figured out that running is just a little too much work.

Pleased with his shot {placed 2nd} he was less impressed with his disc throwing. Super competitive, he's always so critical of himself. Three or four days this week, he didn't have a throwing coach which was even more frustrating for him. He is definitely missing his old coach {S} and buddies from Kansas.

Directly affected by the crisis in Libya this week, Jim has worked long hours and was required to work today causing him to miss the meet.

I left Coleman home with Ty, so Caden and I made the road trip. Fun times with my little man.

Always a crack up, Caden had his own track meet on the sidelines. Once he saw the relays with the kids passing the batons, he grabbed up an empty water bottle and used it as his baton.

He had a couple other moms laughing out loud. He should sleep well tonight, I think he ran twenty races. Next week, I should have hurdle pictures of Ty to post...

Friday, March 25, 2011

practically N E I G H B O R S

What a small world. Not long ago, I said this same thing after running in to the guy Jim knew at our local hardware shop. This week, I'm saying the same thing. In our time at Kansas, we made literally thousands of custom wood plaques. Yes, thousands. Maybe even hundreds of thousands. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it sure felt that way some days.

One client that I made a plaque for a year or two ago was living in Washington DC at the time. It was an Air Force board with the tags showing their different assignments. She emailed me for a Ramstein AFB tag for her plaque, so I knew she was stationed here. This was all long before we ever knew we would be moving here as well.

About a month ago, she emailed me asking for the tag {again} as it was misplaced. Slow to respond, I finally answered her last week and let her know we were also here in Germany. Come to find out- we live in the same village. Crazy! What are the chances we'd both end up in a crazy place called Oberstaufenbach with a population of less than 300 or so?

We've actually walked past her house {about a two-minute walk from here} and her kids ride the same bus as our boys. That's even more amazing to me- in a school of 55 busses {2 or 3 stop here in our village} they're on the same bus. Her road is directly behind us, I'm sure she's our backyard neighbor. I plan to go meet her face-to-face on our next walk. 
A little country side view about five minutes from our house. I'm starting to love the fields and appreciate the beauty here that we've heard so much about... just had to survive winter to see it! Keeps getting better each day as it warms up!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

let it A L L hang out

It's been a slightly stressful day. I've tried to stay focused, but feel a little like I'm spinning in circles. For some reason, this picture makes me smile. I've been sticking our undies in the dryer along with our socks, but one of these days, I just might switch over to the German way of doing it. They let it all hang out there.
I do watch all the German ladies and their laundry lines quite closely. Not to be nosey, but I'm still trying to learn their way of doing things. I have yet to catch one of them outside in the process of putting it out, but I can see how they place it. Already, I've flipped the shirts upside down so the clip marks are on the bottom. Smart. I wonder if they're watching me from their windows as well- laughing at this new girl trying to learn these things.

I never thought a year ago that I'd even be hanging laundry outside... who knows what I'll be doing by next year.

When I showed Justin this picture- he about died. Couldn't believe I would take it and even worse would make him look at it. His comment, "Mom- only you would take a picture of something like that."  Guess he's right. Today, I needed the smile- it was worth it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

one C U P at a time

It's been a little bit busy around here this week and I've almost not been able to keep up! Feel like I'm a little behind and need to get my act together.
A little example...Jim stopped by the store Monday evening for me on his way home from work. I thought I gave him a complete list until Tuesday morning, I realized we had no sugar. You just can't make red velvet without the sugar. 

I decided to make a quick trip to the closest German store I know- about a ten-minute drive as opposed to twenty to the commissary on base.

Caden and I made it to the store and bought the smallest bag of sugar I think I've ever seen in my life. It was the only brand, only size. Kind of a one size fits all for this country. I guess if you shop every day for your family of three {max} and have an itty-bitty kitchen with little to no storage, you simply buy sugar one cup {maybe 1 1/2} at a time- whatever 1000 g equals out to be. I get it.

Happy to have my sugar and even a bunch of flowers that Caden picked out, we headed home to finish up Coleman's cupcakes only to realize we were out of vegetable oil. This about sums up my week. Just a step behind. Life's not slowing down any, I better get in gear.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

finally S E V E N years old

We think he might possibly be one of the sweetest kids around. He's super funny, always smiling and quite the peace maker in our family. Coleman's birthday is today and he's finally seven years old!

He was the most beautiful baby with a full head of blonde, highlighted {long} hair. One nurse called him the Rod Stewart baby, another referred to him as a little surfer baby.

We even had random people ask us if we had highlighted his hair. Everyone wanted to touch our little blondie.

He was calm and easy until he hit two weeks old. Uncontrollable crying {perhaps colic} kicked in making a rough next few months. We started liking him {again} once he was about 10 months old and able to move around.

Today, Caden and I joined him for lunch and recess, then cupcakes with his class- yummy red velvet. His birthday dinner request- pizza {a no-brainer} and chicken salad.

If only Daddy would ever get home with the big boys... it's hard waiting all day to open presents!
Lady's birthday is today as well- she's three years old. Caden had to pick her out a new {pink} collar and a few bones. She is quite loved around here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

she said H A L L O

It's a great day today. The sun is shining here in Deutschland- something I no longer take for granted. This morning, there was a ring on our doorbell. Holding a young toddler, the lady introduced herself as Miranda- one of our American neighbors. Having new tenants who are in the process of moving in next door, I assumed this was her. Not so, she's in the next unit over. We are in D, she's in B.

Bad morning for her- she was locked out of her house and needed help. She had that same stressed-out look on her face I had just a couple months ago as I found myself in the same predicament.

I asked if she was new to Germany and she responded they have been here four years. Four years and still getting locked out- I felt a whole lot better.  Not because she was locked out, but because it wasn't me and it felt so good to be on the other side- able to help her out. She needed Johannes' phone number so he could come unlock her house.

I was able to call him and speak enough German so he knew what happened and was on his way to help her. When I hung up, I let her know he'd be here in 30 minutes. She said, "Wow- your German is good." Little does she know, it's pretty broken but it was so comforting to not only understand but be understood.

a garden just down the road...
A little bit later, as I was returning inside after hanging out laundry {have to take advantage of the sunny days} my German neighbor {the wife} actually said Hallo first. I couldn't believe it! Maybe it's because I planted flowers by our front door. Maybe it's because we swept our front porch or even the laundry hanging outside. Whatever the reason, it was nice.

Yesterday, I broke down and bought some potting soil, a pot and flowers to plant out by the front door. Seeing the gardens going in, flowers planted and manicured yards has been really tough for me. I love playing in the dirt. I tend to go overboard and usually can't get enough yardwork. We've gone from a huge yard and mowing hours and hours each weekend, flowerbeds and a huge garden to no yard at all. It felt good to put at least a few pansys out front for a little splash of color.

Yesterday, I was also invited by my yoga-teaching neighbor to go for a hike. I jumped at the opportunity- right in our backyard. In spite of almost dying on the uphill trek, it was the most amazing view from the top. Breathtaking. I plan to take Jim back up today, I'll have my camera with me this time. Things are starting to look a little brighter.

Friday, March 18, 2011

comparing G A R B A G E cans

I strongly believe in not keeping score. Especially when it comes to helping others out, I feel {and repeat often} it all evens out in the end. That doesn't necessarily mean I always think life is fair. On a walk this week, I couldn't help notice my neighbor's garbage can. I can honestly say, I've never even cared about someone else's garbage can until living here with our mini-can picked up twice a month. Ours is identical to the small one on the right- hers seems jumbo sized. It's huge. The previous tenants had a baby, entitling them to a larger can which stayed when they took over the house.

Is life fair? Certainly not when I compare garbage cans. But, I can deal with it and am trying to do a better job with even less complaining. This week, I've especially thought about the devistation and heartbreak in Japan. Why am I even wasting a moment thinking about how small my garbage can is? I'm sure any one of them now left homeless with everything they owned buried or washed away would be most grateful to even own a garbage can.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

33 cents per M I N U T E

The whole phone thing over here is insane. We miss our family plan- no such thing here. We bought a used pay-as-you-go cell phone within a day of arriving here just for essential calling. It's about 25 cents a minute to use- not cheap.

In January when we had our Internet hooked up, we were also assigned a landline. Took us another month to get an actual phone plugged in {thanks, Laura} since US cordless phones are of no use here.

Hearing how expensive it is to use the phone here, I've been completely afraid to use it. After receiving our first bill, we realized they assigned us a long-distance telephone phone number. In our village, everyone has the same five numbers at the beginning- not us. I was just told that the phone company is now required to assign these new numbers and only gives a local number if the other {long distance} ones are taken. Sounds like a scam to me. Whatever.

Here, you never pay for incoming calls, but for us to call even our neighbors, it is a long-distance call. Ridiculous. Also in Germany, land lines and cell phones are two different things. For us to call another land line from our home phone, it is about 4 cents per minute. Using our same home phone to call a cell phone- a whopping 33 cents per minute.

Re-evaluating our phone contract, we did find a couple options we didn't know existed. I'm sure we were caught up in the shock of everything being new and different when we started the process, we never went back to read the small print. We were able to add unlimited calling to Germany for an additional $7 per month. At least I think it's unlimited- it says "it applies to calls for fixed network" whatever that means, I'm sure we'll quickly find out.

We also found out that we get free unlimited calls to the United States. How crazy is that? Long distance to call my neighbor, but free to anyone any time in the US? Don't get me wrong, we're excited- very excited. This has especially simplified making arrangements to get things done on our house in Kansas. Hearing a normal dial tone is more comforting and exciting than I anticipated. Hearing friends and family {especially those we haven't been able to talk to on Skype} is even better. 

Just another example of how different it is in the world we now live in.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

my huge C R U S H

I love this picture. I only wish it was recent. Even being cropped at the waist, the fact that I was in a bikini, in public and allowed a picture {likely asked for it} combine to make a very distant yet fond memory of days when I was in shape.
We all have our fears. One of my greatest fears is the gym- specifically the weight room. I would rather give  a speech in front of a congregation of 500 or probably even 1000 than walk in to a weight room alone with the expectation of working out. I'm extremely intimidated and have yet to get over it.

In high school, while I played volleyball I never had a lot of upper body strength. Of course, my coach being the good man he was let me know this often and that I needed to get in to the gym. The summer before my senior year, he even met me at the gym and walked me through a weight circuit to increase my strength. I paid for a three-month membership and never stepped another foot in the gym. I was terrified and never did do it on my own. What a waste.

In a high school weight training class that I was in, I remember the panic and fear I felt having to test in order to pass the class. I was working for a chiropractor at the time and think I somehow got him to write me a note that my back was bad, {or some other lame, made-up excuse} so I couldn't test and I got out of it. Something stupid like that. My fear goes back a bit- way back.

After Tyler was born, I started taking fitness classes since I was at school anyway finishing up my degree. I enjoyed these- but none included weight lifting. Water aerobics, step aerobics, aerobic kickboxing and racquetball- anything but weights. I even remember loving aerobics so much the thought crossed my mind that it would be cool to maybe teach someday. I was in shape one day way back when...

One of the things Jim and I really loved to do as we were dating was work out together. Quite the extreme opposite of me, he's most comfortable in the weight room and loves lifting. In his single days, he would easily spend three hours a day working out. As it's taken a back seat for the past few years, he's slowly getting back in to a groove. He's also quite disciplined and has been getting up to an alarm set to 4:45 every morning. He's asked me to go, I always turn him down in spite of the fact that I'm not happy with my body right now.

With the strong encouragement of a new friend here, I had a light-bulb moment this week and realized I'm just so full of excuses. The boys let me know that she's like to go on a bike ride with me. Sounds great, right? My problem- she takes 30-mile bike rides. That's not 30 miles a week or a month. She treks 30 miles at one time in one day through these rolling hills of Germany that make up our backyard. I confessed to her that I'd love to bike with her, but I'm just {a lot} afraid of her. I have to get in shape if I'm ever going to make it even a mile.

She asked why I wasn't getting up and going with Jim in the mornings. With Justin and Ty here, the little guys are fine, right? We could take two cars and I could be back with plenty of time to get them off to the bus. My only answer for her, "I'm lazy."

Today was my second day {morning} in the weight room with my husband. My heart is so full. I watch him and can't believe that I actually get to share a bed {a house, our boys, a life} with this amazing man. He's tender and sensitive, knowledgeable and strong. So strong. He feels like my own personal trainer and I'm flooded with these giddy feelings as if I have this huge crush on this hunk of a man who is helping me. Almost distracting enough to forget about the people, the mirrors, the weights and the gym that I'm standing in and so afraid of. 

What a way to start the day out spending an hour together- we're both loving it. I can't move my arms without feeling pain and I'm told my back will be sore tomorrow- it can only get easier, right?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

hanging out to D R Y

I'm feeling a little more like Laura Ingalls Wilder every day. I think it's rare to see a German house without a clothesline out in the yard somewhere.  Not only are they out there, they're filled with clothes every single day. It's not like they're left out there from an older generation that used to hang clothes out- this remains their way of life.

They're all a little different- some are rectangular, others triangular, but they all have them. Hanging clothes out to dry is the norm here- at least for the Germans.

We were first exposed to it in our hotel upon our arrival. The hotel owner {Petra} told us they have to hang it up or they'd be bankrupt as utilities are so expensive. I'm not sure how much of an exaggeration that is, but we got the point.
It's easy to spot the American rental houses, as this is something Americans just don't do as often {if ever}. Are we just lazy? Can't be bothered? I'm not sure. Until today, I've never used even a single clothespin for anything other than a child's craft project-ever. Maybe, I've laid damp rugs out on the back deck just to finish air drying, but that's about it.
I've always relied heavily on our Whirpool front-loading super duper capacity dryer without paying a bit of attention to the amount of energy I was using.
Now, I'm realizing how wasteful I've been for so many years. I do a ton of laundry which means a ton of drying. I can't do anything to use less water, but we're pretty sure we can save quite a bit without the dryer running all day.
Over the weekend, we found a mid-priced clothesline at the German hardware store- today I broke it in. I thought it would take me a lot longer to get through our laundry, but now I'm thinking maybe not. Here, we have an American dryer {twice as fast as the German ones} but, I'm still always waiting for the dryer to finish to swap my laundry.
Half the time, I forget about them and they sit wet for hours on end and I end up washing them again. Now, no waiting- I just take the clean clothes straight outside. I actually didn't mind it at all and our clothes smell so fresh. We'll see if the novelty wears off for me or if I keep at it. We might just be bringing it {the clothesline and the habit} back with us to the United States.
Secretly, I think I'm hopeful that our German neighbors start to like us just a little bit more seeing we're trying really hard to adapt to their way of living. I like to believe we're not typical lazy Americans. No worries, I don't care how long we're here, I won't be switching to Saturday-only baths {as in Little House on the Prairie} and I'll continue to shave my legs until the day I die. Germany can educate me but {hopefully} won't completely change me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Q U A L I T Y is not overrated

We really miss our neighbors. We're pretty convinced we had the best neighbors you could ask for. As we all worked on projects around our new homes and acreage, we especially loved watching across our dirt road to see what Steve & Tammy were up to.

Not long before we left, they put up a beautiful white split rail fence that in a way framed in their property. We watched the hours and hours each weekend {and even evenings after work} as they measured and walked it out, leveled and dug to get it just right

They have a way of doing everything the right way- something we not only admire but strive to do ourselves with our home and property. Everything just looks so nice. I definitely don't think quality is overrated. I can't exactly say the same about our neighbors here. As I think about that perfectly positioned white fence back in Kansas, I've especially noticed the crooked boards and tied up pieces that make what are known to them as fences.

I guess Johannes' chickens were getting out, so a couple weeks ago he threw up this fencing around the upper edge of the coop. Functional? I still see chickens and the rooster out everywhere, so maybe it was to serve a different purpose.

Maybe, they're just sneaky and get out when he's not around. Attractive? Not in our opinion.

This last week on the other side, the German threw these slats of wood up on the sides of his chicken enclosure. Within a couple hours, I think his task was completed and {to us} it shows.  

Everyone has their own way of doing things- we get that. I think we're already excited to get back to a house of our own to do things our way.

Friday, March 11, 2011

start thinking A H E A D

Still working on the dress issue. Not sure why I'm making it such a big deal. Thanks for so much input and help. I guess I just really want to look good for my hubby. I have two in the mail and my best friend Krista from forever ago {second grade} is sending two for me to try on.

Her husband is about to board on a plane on the East coast and is headed to Germany for the week-way better than express shipping. When he asked what we needed from the US, all I requested was for him to bring Krista along. I miss my friend. Little did he know his suitcase would be half full with stuff for Sheila...

Mike washing a pot in our RV sink
 One thing that I think I'm going to have to learn over here is to think ahead. Online shopping is great, but you have to have a little time, it's not quite as quick as in the states- even priority shipping. Coleman's birthday is next week. Of course, I just started thinking about it- normal for me.

I've never gotten in to big birthday parties, but we decided this year we'd let him have a party at the swimming pool. Jim went to get Star Wars theme stuff at the BX- nothing. I couldn't believe it. N O T H I N G. There is a German Toys-R-Us fairly close and I'm sure we could have found something that would work. But, I've been saved.

I was shocked today to receive an email from Krista letting me know she was at the party store {in New Jersey} buying Star Wars party stuff for Coleman. What a relief- saved in spite of my procrastination. Thank you- you made my day! Can't wait for you to come visit!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

H E L P please

OK, I need help. I just showed Jim the dress I bought. He said, "Did you really buy it?" YIKES! Not the answer I was expecting.... I planned on buying a small shrug to cover up the bare shoulders since I definitely don't have Michelle Obama arms {yet} haha.

Then, I showed him my other options... he likes the navy straight one better. I guess it will work with the spanx that suck in everything... That's the one that the reviews were all mothers-of-the bride in the 60-100 age range. Does it look like a grandma dress? I need some girly reviews... please and fast!!!

I can't copy and paste the photos... here are the links. Any input- so greatly appreciated!!!
Here's the navy {grandma?} one:

Here's the one I already bought that I'll gladly return if the other one looks better...

sorta S I C K kids

Sick kids are never fun. For me, half-sick kids are way worse. I have Coleman home today and he definitely fits in this sorta-sick category that I don't deal well with. He was up in the night with a tummy ache, and absolutely didn't want to go to school. He loves school, loves his teacher. Yes, he's thrown up two nights this week and he's still having a hard time keeping solid foods from going straight through him. But, I think he's ok. Maybe, I'm too easy- I let him stay home. It's the whining, crying and demanding {mom...every 90 seconds} that I don't tolerate well at all.... no patience.

Caden's choice

In addition to Coleman, I've reached a whole new level of stress over here- online shopping for a formal dress. Crazy, yes. I definitely don't like shopping and never have, so I haven't really missed it here- until now. Jim has a formal event that we have to go to, so finding a dress is not an option. I had to find a dress. Being the palest shade of white I think I've ever been along with a body that desperately needs to be worked out make it an even harder task. 

I'm a pretty plain girl. I like simplicity, modesty and don't think I'm too picky. For this event, the email said blue or black long formal dresses. Shouldn't be too hard to find something, right? Actually, it's been a nightmare! It's especially tough shopping online for something that I think will work with my body since every one of them looks good on the model displaying it.

Coleman's pick
The first one I found said, "currently unavailable" when I added it to my cart. I'd really like to know- why is it still on the site? Another seemed perfect until I discovered the only sizes were a two or a four. Definitely won't work. Another one, I thought I liked until I read the reviews and found every one of the women who bought it and submitted a review was in the age category {50-65} and said it looked just stunning at their daughter or son's wedding. I really don't want to look like a washed-up mother-of-the-bride.

Yet again, I found another one only to find the average shipping time is 14-16 weeks. Too bad I don't have that many weeks- I need it shipped today. The next I really liked- just $1195.00. That ended my search at Saks.

Coleman and Caden offered to help as well picking out dresses they thought would work and look good. Oh, the five and six-year-old perspective.
this is the Saks Fifth Ave one that I wanted...
After spending a solid week looking online and even enrolling my sister's help, I finally found one that I think would look decent. I even picked out jewelry to match and got free shipping- bonus.

Ah, a sigh of relief until I got to the last stage of checking out and they let me know they won't ship to an APO address. When entering my address, the AE that we enter for our state {for Armed Forces Europe} even auto-filled in their drop box. I thought I was home free. Nope.

My next google was "dresses APO mailing" to see if I could do any better. I did find a nice site with stores listed that definitely ship to APO addresses. Nice. Going through this list, I narrowed it down to Nordstroms that would ship and had a couple options that might work.

Finally, I've found one and the order is placed. Now, it has to fit. I have no other options. Better get going on Justin's nightly ab workout and some serious push-ups. One of my secret desires is to learn to and eventually love running. One of these days, I'll get in shape- it would sure simplify times like these.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

H U N D R E D S of them

It is definitely one of those grey, color-of-Europe days. The sun has already hidden behind the abundance of clouds and a cold wind is blowing. On the bright side, the temperatures are warming up a little making it a little more comfortable outside. As Caden and I headed out for our daily walk, I looked at the neighborhood houses with a different perspective. Knowing I'm not the only one who thinks it can be draub and grey in this country, I can't help but wonder if they add color to their houses to help cheer things up just a little.

Colors we would likely never use for the outsides of our houses and even consider tacky are very normal over here. Lots of yellows, pinks, oranges and purples. It's not unusual to pass by a huge, beautiful house then wonder what they were thinking painting it lavender with a lime green trim.  Or, dreamcycle orange with pink trim or bubble gum pink with coral shutters. They come in all varieties.

Really, I can't blame them. If color makes them happy, more power to them.

Toward the end of our walk, we were turning around to head back and I happened to spot this beautiful herd {are they even referred to as a herd?} of deer on the hillside. Hundreds of them- even from a distance, they were absolutely beautiful. They wouldn't all fit in one camera frame- they covered the hill. It felt like we should be at San Diego Wild Animal Park or up in Denali Park looking at the caribou. Instead, they're just minutes from our house- practically in our back yard. We stood watching for a minute- enjoying the calmness surrounding the area. Not sure I can bring Jim back- he might be tempted to pull his bow out.

What a great walk- a little fresh air does do the mind good. I have to admit, I even got three {3} little grandpas and one {1} grandma to say hello to me as we walked by. I'm sure they didn't quite know what to take of my outgoing "Guten Tag" but they each managed to squeak out a soft, "Hallo" while continuing on with their work. Two were sweeping... Ah, I wonder if they ever get tired of sweeping...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

S A C K E D all the time

A major change is taking place in our house this week. After a two-hour episode putting Caden to bed over the weekend, Jim decided he's finally had enough! He filled Caden in on "the plan" which Caden immediately voiced was a terrible plan.
This was the plan:
The first night {Saturday}, he would sit next to his bed. The second night {Sunday}, he would sit on the spare bed {still in their room} and Monday he would be at the door. No more lying in bed with him until he falls asleep.

The first night was great. Caden was asleep in record time. I thought this was going to be a breeze and long overdue. Sunday night wasn't quite as smooth. Jim took a while, so I wondered what was going on. He caved and ended up sleeping with him. At first, I couldn't believe it. I can't say much because I don't contribute- Caden simply wants his daddy and NO one else {not even Justin believe it or not}.

He explained to me what happened. After crying and crying for Jim to lay next to him, their conversation went something like this with Caden sobbing the entire time:

Jim: "Go to sleep, Caden- I'm right here. You're fine."
Caden: "Dad, I'm not fine. I'm not tough."
Jim: "Yes- you're a big kid, go to sleep."
Caden: "Dad- I'm really not tough. I just act like I am tough but my coach tells me every day I'm really not."
Jim: "Yes, you are. You tell me every day how good you do at your football games and how strong you are."
Caden: "No, it's really not true. I lie and I'm not tough at my games. I just pretend that I am and I'm really not. And, I get sacked all the time. I'm not good at football or basketball or anything which is why I need you to lay with me."

Jim said it was pathetic, but it worked. He got his daddy one last night.

Monday, March 7, 2011

rough W E E K E N D

It was a little bit of a rough weekend around here. We learned that our buyers officially backed out of the deal to purchase our house. We refused their $26,000 estimate to "fix" the siding. To us, it looks like the perfect way for them to get out of the deal without losing their earnest money. An excuse. Jim was right to not get his hopes too high in the beginning. That is a fault of mine and I haven't figured out how to hold back. Normally the optimist, I easily get excited. I can't help it. Most frustrating is the month we've wasted since they signed the contract, ugh. Back to square one.

Coleman ended up with a bad stomach bug Saturday night that wiped him out. Again, I'm so grateful for a husband who can handle cleaning up puke because I sure can't. I know, I'm lame and can't stomach anything. Even thinking about puke, I start heaving. Without complaining, he cleans up after every sick kid every single time. He stripped and washed all of the bedding. I do better on the other end- snuggling with the sick child once they are cleaned up and covered in baby powder to smell good.

Pretty much since we arrived here, I've been struggling to find energy. Normally a medium to high energy person I just don't feel my normal self. I'm sure winter and the dark had a lot to do with it. Moving, stress and adjusting have also contributed. I know I could lose some weight and start working out, but I can't help but wonder if this house is a possible factor. Runny noses, congestion, coughing- we've all had a lot of it. I'd like to get rid of it! It's not like I stay in bed all day, I'm up, running around, I just don't feel that great.

I air it out daily and keep the windows open as long as we can stand the cold, but we still have mold. This can't be healthy, can it? Little black dots in the bathrooms and the laundry room and I keep those windows open almost all the time. A few weeks ago, we noticed a leak going down this entire wall- straight from our shower above into the living room. You can see the water stains all the way down, then the mold growing at the bottom.

We showed Johannes. He came and replaced the drain and did something in there. All I know is he said to me with excitement as he finished the job, "Ein Hundert Percent Gut." {one hundred percent GOOD} But, the mold was never addressed. I think over here, they are maybe just used to it. I also think that might be part of the reason they're outside as much as they are- for the fresh air. Caden and I have been out walking more the last week, which has already helped a little. He's out playing football or soccer or running every day- maybe this is why he healthy and full of energy while I'm not.

I just imagine the whole inside of the wall with horrible nasty growing funk. If this is what we can see- what is going on the inside? Plus, it still leaks in the bathroom, as water seeps out from under the caulking. It might be hard to see from this picture, but this is Ty's bedroom door. Just a little warped and happens to be right next to the bathroom.

When we showed Johannes, the quick fix was to raise the door up with washers. Then, he nailed the transition strip down. Now, the door definitely doesn't close properly.

The flooring in front of the kitchen sink {another water source... see the pattern?} is also completely warped and pulling apart. Opening the cupboard door- it smells like mold and mildew.

There are also random nails all over the laminate flooring throughtout the house in places that it must have started to buckle or warp. Not exactly our idea of a proper fix. At this point, bleach might help contain the mold a little. Warmer weather and being outside sounds like a even better plan.

If you look closely, you can see all of the random little nails...