Saturday, April 30, 2011

witches N I G H T

Yikes, just read this warning from the base...

Ramstein Air Base, Germany

German youth will be observing "Witches Night" Saturday and Sunday. Young people usually play pranks on their neighbors to celebrate, but more hazardous behavior is possibile. Use extra caution driving after dark to avoid possible drunk drivers, darting children and objects in the streets. Park your car in a garage if possible, and bring small items into your home to keep them from becoming prank material.

Moved our trash and all of my flower pots in to the garage. Jim's moving the cars to the back concrete slab. Ugh... hopefully, nothing happens. Our one-car garage is just a little bit too small for a vehicle even when it's completely empty.  Just another one of their crazy holidays! So happy to have my husband home... we'll all sleep a little {a lot} better tonight.

Update: Yes, the teens made their way around the village with cars parked on our street all hit with eggs. Relieved Jim parked behind our house, I would not have had a happy husband today if we were hit as well. We all know how he is with vehicles. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

this mama's P A T I E N C E is gone

I'm relieved to have the weekend in sight. It wasn't the worst week of my life, but I'm so happy it is ending. I started out on Monday starting a pot of potatoes to boil then LEAVING my house to go for a run. Yes, it wasn't until I was gone for two hours {of course, not running that entire time} that I realized I left the burner on- luckily turned down to 4. But, still.

Talk about an adrenaline rush- not the good kind, it was horrible anticipating what I would be walking in to. To my surprise, there was still water in the pot- covering my little potatoes even. I was shocked and had convinced myself while racing home that it was going to be a horrible disaster with smoke alarms sounding as the charred pot remained. 

Today, I'm most grateful to have made it through the week and avoided burning down our {rental} house.

We're ready for our daddy to come home- things haven't been the same without him...

* The little boys' average bedtime has moved from 7pm to closer to 9pm-ish... Their daddy is just so much better at sealing the deal on early bedtimes. I haven't figured out how to do it, yet. We're all tired.
* The car and the van both have garbage and belongings in them... something that never happens when Daddy is home.
* I had to actually fill up the vehicles with gas- something I normally never do. Call me spoiled.
* Dinner has been a little less than planned... we didn't have any cereal nights, but not the best menu either. We ate hamburgers cooked on the stovetop instead of the grill- something we rarely do.
* The mail hasn't been checked since Monday. It's a pain going to the Post Office on base- I dread it. Of course, the mailbox attached to our house stays empty most of the time- it's German!
* We actually {accidentally} left the garage door open for a whole night. Oops, at least it was only once. Luckily, the regular doors lock automatically when you shut them, so we haven't had to make sure they're locked at night. Guess I'm not too worried about safety.
* My bed is cold, I've had to sleep in head-to-toe pj's and miss my heat source.
* This mama's patience is about gone and it's only been two weeks.
* We're all ready for him to be home.

I finally had a little visit with our landlord this evening. I need to take note and maybe I won't do it {the build up} again. I really hate building up scenarios in my mind {in this case, for days on end} and obsessing over it only to confront the issue then wonder why in the world I stressed out. I don't get why I still do this to myself from time to time. It's as if I feel I need a little extra stress and worry in my life and bring it on myself- how stupid.

Our chat went well. Speaking with our landlords really the only time that I am forced to dig deep and use a little German. I actually think I like it, believe it or not and I always walk away wanting to re-learn it. Today, every conversaton in my head was in German preparing for the real deal. Also, there's nothing like a little motivation to clean house knowing I'd be asking him to come in and take a look at our problem areas. Maybe he thinks I always keep a Pine-sol fresh home and am on top of things. I can dream.

I showed him the moldy wall{s} and got down on the floor for him to feel the horrible warping on the floor. I also showed him the water damage {more warped boards} by our sink, so he knows they're all messed up. He said {rough translation} the drain that he fixed in our bathroom is good and it's just from the water that leaked before he fixed it. 

He then said it is absolutely not our problem. We've known this all along, we just needed to make sure he felt the same. The fact that it is dry now is good, I need to keep the windows open {he did give me props for keeping them open}. When we move, he'll have to rip it out and re-do it, or something like that. Honestly, he doesn't even slow down for me. Maybe he thinks I really do speak and understand German well. Again, I can dream.

For now, I won't worry about it- any of it.

I'm now even more convinced than ever that mold is just a German way of life. They're used to it and it's not a big deal. To us, it's disgusting. For now, I'll set that worry up on the shelf and forget about it. Life goes on.

Not only are the flowers over here absolutely beautiful, the trees are gorgeous. So many varieties have flowers on them. Kind of a two-for-one deal.

As tiny as most of the yards are here, they do with what space they have. Perennials, baskets and window boxes are abundant and stunning. I'm really trying to take time to enjoy the scenery.

I think these purple blooms are so dainty and so pretty. Love driving past them every day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

R E N T I N G is rough

Renting. After owning our own home, going back to a rental is rough. Beyond rough. The space, the freedom, the joy of ownership.

Giving up my Deluxe Whirlpool front-loading super capacity washer/dryer duet set for a small base loaner is just the tip of the iceburg. If I think too long about it, I get really, really sad. This week seems to have been another bump in the road for me as I've really struggled to keep my head up.

But, I'm in this incredible place with so many opportunities- I know I'm supposed to be happy. Some days, it just isn't that easy. Today is one of those days.

We discovered new mold. Not today or even yesterday. It's been there for a while now. We had a shrunk on the wall covering it and moving it exposed the rotten wall right outside our bedroom on the adjacent wall to our shower. Every day, more and more of the plaster falls off the wall to the floor. My friend was over and smelled the mildew just walking in to our bedroom. No doubt, it's making us sick.

I'm not sure why I have to work so hard to get up the courage to approach our landlord, but I do. I've faced and dealt with so many challenging scenerios and people in my life- why is this so difficult? I keep telling myself, he's just a German-speaking Russian Grandpa. Shouldn't be that difficult, should it? He asked me the other day if the rooster cock-a-doodle-doodling all day bothered me. He sings while he works in his yard and I listen as I hang my laundry out to dry. His chickens are his happy thing and he claps and talks to them all day, every day. Sounds easy enough. Not when it comes to his house.

Not getting any better... this has been there for a few months
Landlords here are a different breed. I truly don't think they know how good they have it with us as renters. Payment is direct deposited every month without question. A $4000 deposit- seriously. But, they think their houses should stay in perfect condition and do not take normal wear and tear in to consideration.

They set the demands, they get what they want. We are at their mercy for housing, so we comply.

I let him know a couple weeks ago that we have three doors that are still scraping on the laminate flooring due to warped boards, of course.

Previously, his solution was to add washers on the hinges to raise the doors up, so he knows darn well there's a problem. This time, he told me that Jim could take the doors off and saw 2mm off the bottoms- fixed. Nice. While Jim can fix anything and everything I don't really think we should be responsible for doing this. How to convey that back in German is another story. In the meantime, they continue to screech each time the doors are shut making me cringe and stress every time. Before too long, we're afraid they're going to find us responsible for replacing the flooring.

Every day this week and last, I've said I'm going to let him know we have a problem and show him this new spot of mold. Then, I back out thinking I have to have the house completely clean before he comes in. Am I crazy? He knows I have four kids, but I still think the women here clean ALL the time and keep up on everything. I feel like I have to do a complete overhaul every two weeks.

While walking, I saw a woman down our street the other day with a bucket and scrub brush washing the tiles on the outside of the house. Yes, the OUTSIDE. I couldn't help but wonder if it was the maid or the actual owner.

If I ever get to the point of my life that I have the inside of my house completely clean and I'm looking for more cleaning to do, I'm pretty sure I won't be hand scrubbing outdoor tiles. Oh, at least I hope not.

I should have things super clean by Friday, so I'll have to call the Grandpa in. We'll see if he has another band-aid or an actual fix. Jim's pretty sure the entire plumbing system is messed up. I'm pretty sure if it was, they'd never admit to it. Wish me luck. I might need to look up some German words in my dictionary tonight to help me out.

Enjoy the scenery... enjoy the scenery... enjoy the scenery... I have to remind myself.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

enjoy the S C E N E R Y

You know those days that you feel like you've been running around all day long, but looking back you have nothing to show for it? I feel like I've had one of those weeks- completely unproductive. Worse yet, it's only Tuesday. In a way, this week has been even harder than the first waiting for my other half to return home.  

My mind is consumed with thoughts about him making it almost impossible for me to focus on anything else. I am smitten.

It's not as if I don't have plenty to do- the projects are bountiful and cleaning is unlimited. But, I may as well wait until closer to the weekend to clean so it stays clean for when Jim gets home. Right? Cleaning today would just be a waste. Instead, I spent an hour looking through the 5,000 pens and pencils for a skinny dry-erase marker. I know I've had tons of them, do you think I could find one? No. What a waste of time.

Not long ago, while at a friend's house I noticed she had a white board displayed in her kitchen with all of her emergency numbers. I had a really strong feeling that I needed to do that as well.

There is no 911 over here, instead it is 112. Seriously, 112. If a real emergency were to happen, I can't say I'd remember those three numbers in that order in a moment of panic. I finally know our home phone number, but under stress I'm sure it could easily slip my mind as well.

These numbers over here are LONG.

Yesterday, a police car or some type of emergency vehicle buzzed past and reminded me I need to get this up just in case anything were to happen. 

Today, that's about the only thing I accomplished. My white board is up. Being the vinyl addict I am, I added a calendar and also wanted a new quote to add to the top of my white board as well. I found this one and felt I needed it in front of me daily as a reminder. It's now displayed where I can see it every day. Maybe it will help.

Not only has this last week been difficult- this time of my life feels like a huge detour.

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery
on a detour.
I hear these sirens {and they're LOUD} and still feel like it's coming from a movie rather
than racing down our street. Truly Europe.

Monday, April 25, 2011

opening D A Y

It's another German holiday today- Easter Monday. What the heck? Another Monday without garbage pick up and I'm not sure when they'll make it up. Hopefully, tomorrow.

I took a small bag of garbage with me on base this morning and dumped it in a parking lot garbage. I might need to start doing this every time I head to the base- what a pain. I have no can to put it in. Better yet, maybe I should sent it with Justin and Ty to school to dump- think that would fly?

I'm thinking I should take a holiday as well- it was a busy weekend. At one point in my life {a long, long time ago} there was a time that I longed to be a single mom. I just wanted to take my boys and run as fast as I could- I couldn't wait to be on my own and out of the miserable dysfunctional {to put it lightly} relationship I was in.  

Anyone who has gone through that horrible process can maybe understand the desire for freedom and a fresh start.

Now, being in a fabulous marriage with a husband as not only my partner but my best friend- I can't ever seem to get enough of him. On my own this week, I've had a little reminder of what it is like to be a single mom and I don't like it- at all. On the home stretch this week, I can't wait to be together again.

This weekend was quite busy with four boys needing to be in four different places on Saturday. Luckily, they were close and I was able to juggle them all. Coleman and Caden had opening day of baseball season.

They had a parade, the national anthems {German and English} and first pitch was thrown out to start their season. Both boys then had their first games- very exciting.

Justin and Ty had a home track meet and both did very well.  Justin placed in both shot and disc although he wasn't as happy as he would like. Extremely competitive by nature, he really wants to do well.

Ty made it through both of his hurdles events even still struggling with shin splints. He placed well in the 110 hurdles, but knows his time was faster. He'll get there. He was on board to run a 4x400 but pulled out at the last minute.

Hopefully, they just keep improving... he's ready to run! They just found out this week that not only do they get to go to England for a track meet, they also have a meet in Holland. Very cool for them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Doner F R I D A Y

I'm going to count this week as done... just a little more than one to go until Jim returns home. I can't wait. In spite of being able to Skype and talk to him on the phone two or three times a day- I still really, really miss him. We need him home and absolutely hate him gone. I often tell the boys that hate is a really strong word- don't use it too often. In this case, it applies.

Today, I headed to town to get a couple last minute Easter things {including Easter grass} only to find that all of Germany is shut down. Good Friday and everything is already closed for the weekend. Even Johannes isn't working out in the backyard. Must be a holiday. For the umpteenth time... these Germans love their holidays. No Easter grass at the BX either- guess we'll live without it this year. It's a pain to vacuum anyway and always seems to stick around forever!

In Justin's world, all is good. It's Doner Friday today. Seniors and juniors are allowed to leave the school for lunch. Ty hates that he has to stay back- I keep trying to let him know it's just part of being an underclassman. His days will come soon enough.

We haven't ventured out and tried the German cuisine {yet}, but we have found something that we all {excluding Coleman, but he doesn't count because he pretty much picks at anything} love. Doner Kabobs.

Jim first took me there for my birthday. Now, the whole family loves them. They're from Turkey, and oh, they're so yummy! In Ty's opinion, they're probably the best thing over here. I keep letting him know that will change as soon as we venture out a little.

Seared meat that he shreds straight off the bone then placed in a wrap or pita and loaded with shredded cabbage, lettuce, tomato, yellow peppers and the most wonderful white sauce. This new place we found has a little dill in their cucumber sauce- you can't help but love it.  

Jim and I ate at a shop {our new favorite} last week before he left. Once we sat down, I asked the serving lady for ketchup for our fries. They had a bottle on another table, but she brought me over two packets. I don't know why that seems so strange to me. I like how they plate the fries- it's all about appearance.

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful parents today... hope it is an enjoyable day for you! It is Good Friday, you know? xo

Thursday, April 21, 2011

26 E U R O per month

Just when I think I'm starting to get the hang of things here, I have these little reminders that I'm not in Kansas anymore. Garbage. I never imagined garbage could take up so much of my time thinking. It's ridiculous- just ridiculous. Mondays are our garbage day- easy enough? As I've mentioned before, one week is recycled bags {gelb and blau} then the rotating weeks is our mini-black can.

No matter what, Monday's the day. If we forget which trash to put out- we simply look at the Germans to help us out.

This Monday, I stuck out the trash {our nasty wet black can with all trash that can't fit in any of our other three recycle bags} and they  n e v e r  came to pick it up. Normally, this wouldn't be too stressful except where am I supposed to throw out the trash for the next T W O weeks? It's difficult enough that they only come twice a month. Now, I have to figure out what to do with a whole month's worth of the worst kind of trash.

It wouldn't be quite so bad if it was paper or even our plastics. We pay 26 Euro per month for garbage- that's between $38 and $40 per month which makes me most frustrated. That's a lot of money to miss our collection and cause so much stress. More than anything, I really don't think garbage is supposed to stress a person out. Aren't there more important things in life to have to worry about? Ugh.

They have trash bins on base and a big recycling center as well. After waiting six weeks or so, when we realized no one was {ever} going to pick up our glass, Jim took it on base to recycle it there. They turned him away. Honest, I couldn't believe it. The "trash police" or whoever was working there that day said in order to recycle on base, you have to show a house key as proof of residence on base. The fact that we want to live on base and can't doesn't matter. One bag of glass and they seriously would not take it. That's when we found the glass bin in the next village over.

As Tuesday afternoon rolled around this week and I came to the realization that no one was going to pick up our garbage, I asked our German neighbor why they didn't come. She let me know that because of the Easter holiday this week, they did their collection last Saturday. Of course, why didn't I know they'd pick it up early? Who does that? Easter is on a Sunday. It's not like Christmas or any other major holiday falling on a weekday to mess up their schedule.  Oh, these Germans do love their holidays.

She asked if we missed it, and I let her know yes... but, one of these days, we'll learn. She then let me know that they will be on holiday for the next week, so if we needed to put our garbage in their can- that is ok. Wow- how nice is that? She's coming around, or maybe it's me that's coming around. Why is taking that first step sometimes just so difficult? Another life lesson.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

yummy P E A C H

Look what we received! Just as she said, our German neighbor returned the plate with German desserts this last weekend. She even offered to give us the recipes which I will be sure to follow up on. With presentation being important here, she had six portions neatly arranged. Three pieces of a wonderful peach dessert of some sort. Crust on the bottom with the peach filling. Then, the sweetest {creamiest} custard layered on top. I'm now in love with custard since Granny introduced it to me just last year. SO delicious. I really should learn to make this... then again, maybe I shouldn't.

On the second half of the plate, there were three pieces of a semi-sweet cake/bread which was also just scrumptious! The gesture meant more to me than any dessert she could have made. I'll definitely be sending more next door.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

hey its J U S T I N

It's like he's 16 all over again. Justin took his International Driver's License test yesterday morning. Because he had his driver's license in the US, he's allowed to drive over here- as long as he can pass the test. If you haven't previously been issued a license in the states, you have to wait until you're 18 {I think} to drive in Germany.

Ty missed out having just finished Driver's Ed and getting his permit before leaving Kansas. He didn't even get a chance to get his license and will have to wait quite a bit longer. He was and still is a little bummed.

Being a teenager while living in Europe is anything but ordinary. We are trying to let them know this. I think as soon as we get to see and experience Europe, it will sink in that this is a great opportunity we will all be able to carry with us for the rest of our lives.

For Justin, having both his car and license stripped as we moved over here, he's slowly getting it back. Unsure whether he even wanted to drive with the craziness over here, his new friends {most of whom have been stuck here and can't drive} gave him that little extra push to get it.

Always one to joke {and tease endlessly}, this is the instant message he sent Jim last night on Skype:

hey its justin. i didnt pass the test. but only missed by 3. i got an 82. so im going to retest friday. but it wasnt that hard. later

Fact is, he took his dad's car to school today for the first time since he PASSED. As Caden and I waited outside the testing room for him to finish, we saw several people exit and head straight outside without a license in hand. I couldn't help but feel a bit nervous for him and that anxiety wondering how he was doing. I really just didn't want to get up early again to get him there by 7am to take it.

Needless to say, he was elated as he came out to let us know he passed. I think this was even bigger than getting his US license. He was definitely happy.

The plan was for him to take the van today since he has very little experience driving a stick shift. Extremely cautious, I figured it would take him a while before he'd be confident enough to drive the Honda. He completely caught me off guard as he jumped right in the car this morning- ready to go.

He made it out of the driveway without stalling and I didn't get a call from them which I'll take as a good sign. We'll see tonight how he really did. I sent Coleman on the bus, since dropping him off would have been pretty inconvenient {maneuvering around 55 busses is a pain}, but he didn't seem to mind.

On the other hand, Ty was more than happy to be spared the bus ride. We all know Ty loves sitting in the front seat of any vehicle.

I think I'm most excited- I don't have to pick them up from track, at least for this week- yeah! I say this all the time but, there really are great things that come with having teenage boys. Oh, I love my boys.

Update: He made it to school and home only killing it ten {10} times. Ty says it was more like twelve (12) times. He was excited that most of those were on the way to school, only twice on the way home- drastic improvement.  He decided to take the van tomorrow... Ty is relieved.

Monday, April 18, 2011

E I G H T whole pounds

I have finally done it. I started running for what feels like the first real time in my life. Not fast, but it's a start, right? I'm not even sure I want to go fast. Just going is making me happy. What a huge difference beautiful scenery, awesome trails and a friend to teach me while run along side me have made.

In junior high and high school, my days playing basketball were short-lived mostly because of the fact that I hated running. What good is it even to be a tall girl if you can't make it up and down the court? Early on, I switched over to volleyball and while you still have to be in shape and run a great deal, it never felt quite as bad as full-court running. All psychological? I'm sure.

I'm pretty sure since those days of running suicides on the basketball court, I've only ever run on a treadmill. Even with my most-dedicated plans, I've never stuck with it for more than a week, give or take a day. For some crazy reason, I've always thought to run you have to go and go and go until you feel like you're going to DIE! Well, I did {die} just about every time I tried and HATED every minute of it.

I'm not going to say this last week has been easy, but I haven't dreaded it. It's actually been enjoyable and even more rewarding to finish a run as we meet our goals. Baby steps.

That being said, I gained a whopping EIGHT {8} pounds last week. Not one to usually talk about my weight {in numbers} but, I can't believe it. Some eat more when working out because the work out seems to justify more calories. I think I'm the opposite that if I'm going to work hard, I'm not going to blow it on junk food. I really tend to eat healthier and definitely drink more water when I'm breaking a sweat.

To start really working out and gain that much is not cool. I've decided I'm not going to get on the scale again {or ever}... and keep my focus. All I can say is my clothes better start fitting better soon if this fat is all turning to muscle.

The same friend who I am running with also introduced me to a new favorite treat last week. I'm still not sure whether to thank her, or not. She did say they make a good weekend treat- Magnum bars. She was also just in the states, and found that Wal Mart is starting to carry them. So delicious our entire family is in love. 

Honest, I didn't try it until after I found out I gained the eight pounds, so I might be up to ten pounds gained now for all I know. They are creamy ice-cream bars with the smoothest, yummiest chocolate. Amazing.

While we've only been to McDonalds twice since we moved here, we found out by driving by the other day that they have Magnum McFlurry. Unable to pass them up, Jim and I splurged without the boys... shhh... Pure heaven in a cup. Now that I've discovered these, I definitely can't stop running now.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

his S M I L E is back

He's back and we couldn't be more pleased. Our little Coleman is finally responding to medication and has perked up. We headed out to a field at the end of our street this afternoon for a little bit of t-ball with the boys. Too chilly for a tank top, Caden didn't mind. They got in some batting and throwing practice. Best of all, Coleman was able to play as well.

While noticing him smile this evening I said to him, "Oh, where have you been my child?" Without a moment's hesitation he responded, "I've been in complete darkness and in pain." What a crazy seven-year-old response. Truth is, he's probably the most happy to be back. Hopefully, he's on the mend for good. It's awful having sick kiddos.

Unfortunately, my honey is leaving this weekend for another trip to the United States for training. We're all so sad and about to work through our longest time apart. I'm rather whimpy when it comes to separation... let's see if I can toughen up a little bit. I'm trying to be strong.
Thinking of my friends who have lost their husbands for months or even a year at a time to deployments, I'm trying to draw on their strength. Nothing is right when we're apart. I miss him so much.

Friday, April 15, 2011

L O V E you, Seth

My incredibly-candid and amazingly good-looking brother just sent me a super-sweet email posing the following question, "Do you ever take a day off from blogging?" Always excited to hear from either of my brothers, I didn't think too much about it... at first.

Then, he got me thinking. Maybe, I do write too much. Why do I blog so often? Am I obsessed? Should I get a life?

My answer- this is my life and I'm working to document it. I keep wondering if the newness of this crazy country will wear off. Will I forget this time here? Do my {German} neighbors notice my laundry as much as I take note of theirs? I'd guess probably not since they've been hanging laundry their entire life. Will I ever pass an old Grandpa sweeping and not slow down to have those extra few seconds of watching him?

This last weekend, we had our new great friends over for dinner. Fun times. After we ate and were sitting around talking, I noticed our German neighbors outside. I tried to express to our friends {Sam & Martha} how I hate the fact that I still feel like I'm trying to earn these Germans respect or acceptance. For some crazy reason, I'm not nearly as concerned about our American neighbors. Why? I know, I'm stupid.

Immediately, Sam told me to take some brownies {that his wonderful wife baked} over to them. Awesome brownies {a Paula Deen recipe, yum} Martha said she hadn't met anyone who didn't like them. Taking his advice, I put them on a {real} plate and covered them with Saran wrap. I headed out our side door to meet her and talked for 30 MINUTES.

I couldn't believe it, I was so excited. That's more time talking to her than we have talked this entire five months. I felt like I could finally let her know some of the things that have been going over and over in my mind since we moved in. We do respect your country. I want to learn your language and I'm working to teach our boys. We think your yard is beautiful and we are HARD-WORKING people, not lazy Americans. The way you and your husband work is how WE used to work in our yard and on our home. We are grateful and want to learn what we can learn from you.

I still don't even know her first name, but I don't care. Just being able to chat with her for a minute and let her know a little of who we are was huge for me. She said she'd return our plate with a German cake. I don't care if she sends it back empty and I told her, "No hurry." Whether she understood or not, I'm not sure. I just wish she knew how much just talking to me meant.

Seth, if you're still reading this... does this answer your question? Jim asks the same question. I know, I'm just your crazy older sis- I can't help it... love ya.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

so G R O S S to me

What in the world are we going to do with this little guy? He's sick again, actually he's still sick. Poor Coleman just can't catch a break. In the last year, he's tested positive for strep three {3} times. After a full ten-day cycle of penicillin, he's still sick. I thought penicillin was supposed to kill everything- guess not.

With a fever, body aches, chills, sore lymph nodes, sore throat, loss of appetite and major fatigue we ended up back in the doctor's office this morning.

He found his spleen to be sore and perhaps a little enlarged, and said absolutely no contact sports for a full month. That's practically the whole coach-pitch baseball season for him- bummer. He also did another throat swab for strep which came back POSITIVE. Unbelievable, so we're starting a new antibiotic now. To top off the morning, we ended up back in the lab for bloodwork to see if we can figure out what's up. We suspect mono again. Whatever it is, we'd love to be able to keep him home and get our little guy well SOON- we miss our happy J.

On a side note... I had a little run-in with the doctor we saw today just a short month ago. For the first time ever, I even filled out a complaint form. I immediately switched our provider to another who happens to be on Spring Break this week. This guy was our only option today. I tried to go in with an open mind. Of course, he comes in shakes my hand, shakes Jim's hand and introduces himself as if we've never met. I know they have a lot of patients, but seriously.

He then gets on the computer {typing on the keyboard} and talks a bit before going to the table to examine Coleman. He immediately did his exam WITHOUT EVER washing his hands. I was about to jump out of my skin I was so GROSSED out. We can admit, we're border-line germ-a-phobic around here, but in a clinic touching other people {sick people}, nasty computer keyboards that everyone works on, and shaking hands pushed me over the edge. I didn't know whether to say something or just let it go. Here, we have a super sick kid we're trying to get well and this dirty-hand man is touching him. I just got up {while he was still talking to us} and washed my hands. I didn't know what else to do. I really was trying to be on my best {mamma bear} behavior.

Not the brightest, he probably didn't even get the hint. He walked out of the exam room still never having washed his hands. Horrible. Pretty sure I won't be able to keep my mouth shut next time- that's just completely unacceptable. What would you do?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

virtual T O U R

We are so happy to have a new realtor working on marketing {and hopefully selling} our home. Here's a link to see the virtual tour she set up. Hopefully, it works here.

Our Kansas Home Virtual Tour

Below is the new flyer she put together and actually has in the yard for potential buyers to pick up. What a concept. Already, she's gone above and beyond in doing way more than we had done before. I keep secretly thinking that it's just sitting empty waiting for us to come back... but, it's starting to sink in that we'll be stuck over here for a while.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

S P R I N G break

Ahh, it's Spring Break- finally. Seems like this school calendar is much longer since they didn't start until almost September. Over here, Spring Break is a big deal. It seems like everyone is going on vacation and there is nothing ordinary about these planned trips. I think there is an actual form in the school office for families to fill out who are pulling their kids out for an extended time.

We kind of feel like the minority, but will be ready to jump on board next year. Everything still seems to be hinging on selling our house in Kansas. On a happy note- we have just switched realtors and couldn't be more delighted with our new lady in charge. Competent and motivated- two qualities we desperately need at this point and are relieved to have found. Until getting the release from our other realtor, I don't think we realized the extra weight on our shoulders from the additional stress we have been feeling because of him. It's hard enough shouldering the stress of a house stuck on the market {10 months now}. Hopefully, things will start to move with the arrival of warmer weather.

Three families we know in our village are on cruises- Mediterranean cruises starting in cool places like Rome or Venice and hitting every hot spot along the way. Another new friend just told me they're taking a huge road trip- across to Paris, up through England {they take the ferry across with their vehicle}, Ireland and Scotland and back down to Germany. Yet another family we know is going up to Holland for the week to see the flowers. All amazing adventures and I can hardly wait to take notes and fill up my book with ideas and advice. I let them all know I can't wait to see and learn where to go!

For us, we're hanging low- enjoying a little lack of structure. I told the boys we'd head to the base today if they wanted to go to the gym. They didn't even want to leave the house which is good. I'll take it! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

being a B O Y is tough

Poor Caden- he's so rough and reckless and has the skinned knees to show it. Whether on his bike, his scooter, running, walking... it doesn't matter. This is the latest show of blood and this one hurt. Both knees already had scabs on them from previous falls- I think his days of soft baby skin are long gone.

Trying to be tough, he just couldn't hold back the tears. Ouch. We're stocked up {again} on Neosporin and band-aids. It's going to be another long summer on these little knees and elbows.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the country of L U X E M B O U R G

What a beautiful day! We decided to kick off Spring Break with a little day trip. Just over an hour west of us, we took a quick road trip to the beautiful little country of Luxembourg today. What a beautiful, quaint speck on the map- we'll definitely be returning. Before entering Luxembourg City, we stopped at the American Military Cemetary where Gen. George Patton was buried. It is another immaculate cemetary with similar feelings of reverence and awe that we felt at Pearl Harbor. in Hawaii To top it off, it was a beautiful day- blue skies, sunshine.

Coleman wasn't feeling well the whole day- Justin says it's called homesickness. He had the chills, clammy and sick enough to not want McDonalds. As soon as we returned home, he was just about fine. Go figure. We had a crazy time finding our way around and parking in the parking garage was insane. Unless you drive a Matrix {Debbie- you'd be fine} or another mini-type vehicle there is NO space. Beautiful city- amazing history. We will be back for the whole experience. Ty opted out today- we'll definitely make the next trip mandatory.

He was trying to be a good sport but really felt lousy.

Jim backed ALL the way to the wall and still crossed the line...

I thought this fruti/vege shop was just beautiful. If we didn't have a sick kid, we would have stopped and spent more time looking.

Friday, April 8, 2011

breaking the R U L E S

He couldn't help it. He's an absolute rule breaker but, we at least have clean cars. No doubt- Jim L O V E S clean vehicles. After watching our landlord {and} German neighbor sneak their cars in the backyard to wash the last few weeks- he followed along.

We finally found a use for all of the concrete in our back space- it is much better than dirt for car washing. Caden jumped in with the cleaning- the happiest kid in our house today.

At one point, there was a man in his tractor who circled past our house twice. The second time, he pulled right in front of our driveway and stopped while talking on his cell phone for quite a while. We joked that he was calling us in for illegally washing our personal vehicle. Funny thing- a few minutes later, Justin asked us if we really thought he was calling us in. Oh, our poor kid is just a little too serious. With us as parents, you would think he'd learn by now to lighten up a little.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

don't S M I L E

What is wrong with this picture? We had a crazy experience yesterday- another one to chalk up to this Germany culture. In order to travel Europe, we needed to get our International driver's licenses. We have the one for Germany, but you have to apply for the International one. We've had it on our list of "to-do's" and decided yesterday to knock it off.

We got the signed/stamped paper from the base and headed to the picture booth {at the BX} for Jim to get passport pictures taken. We only needed one each for our new license. I had a left over one from getting our passports done, so we just needed to do his. As soon as his was taken, I said he looked SO mean- he has quite the scowl on his face. Whatever- it would work. We printed it and were on our way.

I was actually quite happy not to have my picture taken again.While this isn't the best picture, I still had a little tan from Kansas. Who likes getting license pictures, anyway? Everything about them is terrible.

We then headed over to the DMV {?} place Kusel- the largest city near our village. It's all based on your residence. I was SURE we had things all together. We had our papers/ID's/German licenses/photo and Euro so we could pay. Unless you're right on base or some of the close shops next to base- you have to have Euro cash- no credit cards accepted. So, we always have to remind ourselves to have it.

We get to the very unfriendly German chick's desk to get our license issued and she said she could not do mine because.... I am smiling in my picture. True story. I couldn't have made that up if I tried. She flat out turned me down. Jim had his issued, I had to go and get a new picture taken today {minus the smile} and drive back out there. I do now have an International Driver's License with perhaps the worst picture I've taken in my life.

Do you know how hard it is to take a picture when someone says, "Don't smile" ? Jim said- we should have known something was going to be held up or wrong- this is Germany. Ugh.

Nope, I can't post a picture of my new non-smiling picture... it really is that horrible. Only the officer that might have to stop me while driving through Europe will get to see it. Until then, it might need to stay tucked away.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

t-ball season is H E R E

Nothing screams out Spring to me quite like baseball season- I just love it this sport. Some of my earliest memories include sleeping out on my Grandma's enclosed patio listening to Padres games with her on the radio.

Smelling the fresh air while feeling the chill of those late evenings in San Diego at the same time. Ah, the crack of the bat- I just love that sound. Good memories that have stuck with me- perhaps endeared me to the sport. 

Baseball just didn't stick with Justin or Ty. Justin did one {1} summer of t-ball and hated it because they just wouldn't keep score. He refused to believe that everyone was a winner {a huge theme in t-ball} and showed his competitive side even then. He absolutely refused to play the next year and I didn't fight him.

Tyler played soccer and says he wishes he had played baseball. I've apologized for not pushing him in that direction.

We saw Coleman's laid back attitude toward the game immediately as he took to the field two years ago for the first time. All-around, he's just a laid back kid- he can't help it. He did figure out if he would just hit the ball harder, he wouldn't have to run as fast. Not too much of a competitive bone in his body- he prefers if everyone would just get along.

He definitely helps create a little balance in our home. It's coach-pitch ball for him this summer, but missed his first practice this week since he had strep. He'll be on the field next week.

Caden might just be my little baseball player. Last year, he played blast ball. It is kind of a fun introduction to the sport {batting} but, they didn't even run around the bases. But, he did love the t-shirt and had fun.

This year, he's old enough {finally} to play t-ball. It's big time for him and with his first practice last night, he was loving every minute. Actually focused and super competitive, it was quite like watching a little Justin out there. He loves running and had to be first in any run- pretty much exactly how Justin was and still is today.

Caden didn't stop smiling the entire practice. Of course, he's still young enough and excited to have his mom there- he checked back often to make sure I was watching. So rewarding to sit back and see him so happy. I love this age.

Monday, April 4, 2011

only paid F L O W E R S bring friends

I love this concept: self-cutting flowers. They are beautiful!

So many colors and varieties. It's hard to just pick a few. We've passed by this spot many, many times on our drive to the base and finally stopped this morning for some fresh flowers.

The amazing thing- no one is there. It's all based on the honor system. Think this would work in the United States? The prices are all listed based on which flowers you cut.

We brought scissors to cut ours, then realized they even have little knives readily available for customers to use. How convenient.

Even being super cheap little knives, for some reason seeing them lying there I was surprised. Looks too easy for someone to just take off with them- but they don't. I feel bad for even having those thoughts cross my mind, but it's true. I'm not sure this would work in the US. The cheap knives or the flowers. I'd like to have a little more faith in our society, but it just feels like there is always so much dishonesty. So sad.

It also makes it that much more impressive to see it working over here and the good of this culture and country.

You pick your flowers, cut them and put your money in the slot. Easy as that. If I translated it correctly, part of the sign says, "Only paid flowers bring friends."  Of course, you can't tell if everyone pays what they owe for the flowers they cut and take, but it seems to be working.

After rain last night, it was a bit muddy, but still so cool to walk the row and pick which colors we wanted. A tad more than the German grocery store {about 57 cents each for tulips}, but a much cooler experience. That's why we're here, right? It's all about the experience.

Next Spring, we plan to take a trip to Amsterdam to see the Spring Festival of flowers. Until then, I'm loving these. Tulips are tulips and they're all absolutely gorgeous.