Wednesday, June 29, 2011

not Q U I T E as planned

Slow train, super fast ICE train, bad subway, public bus, airport shuttle, nice RER city train, PLANE and taxi. We did it all this week. We had our train tickets purchased to return home this morning all together.
Jim finished up with his last plane last night, so we were set to leave this morning first thing.
Sunday evening, one of the crew members told Jim that we could all just jump back on a plane with him instead of the train.
One hour- straight to Ramstein, I jumped at the chance. Not that I didn't want to come home with my husband... but, with four kids and lots of luggage, this was much simpler. Plus, we could get home two days earlier. No one resisted.
We were supposed to leave around 12:00, but ended up having a L O N G delay, sitting in the sun and a super hot, broken-down chalet at the airport for hours and hours waiting for the plane to get loaded and ready to go. The boys did fairly well in spite of another day going not quite as planned.
I think that's kind of a theme for this whole Paris trip.
M E M O R I E S : not quite as planned

Oh, we were sooooo hot! This was on the taxi- the next-to-last leg of our trip home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

a lot of L A U N D R Y

Sixty {60} pairs of underwear, maybe even more. Laundry. Six of us for ten days, plus all of Jim's from the entire previous week. That's a lot of dirty, stinky clothing. I'm not sure how or why I used to save it all for one day.

That's what I've been up to all day. I'm grateful for the 90+ degrees outside which helped speed up the drying process. It was ready to come down just about as quickly as I hung it up.

We're home, we're safe, we're exhausted. I don't think I could have paid the little guys to leave the house today. We all also have a greater appreciation for Germany. Justin's first words when we got to the van were, "Oh, I love Germany."

Maybe we should have visited Paris back in January. Our transition might have been quicker.

More stories and pictures to come from our adventure in Pairs. Just as soon as I get through these mountains of clothes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

tour E I F F E L

We finally made it downtown. Jim was able to get off around noon {his first time off in two weeks} and we headed out to check out the city. There is a tourism office just down from our hotel, so I made a visit for some advice on the best way to make it to the sights.
I've learned that there is the Metro {of which I'm not too fond}, and also a train system called the RER which is way better- faster, some above ground, roomier.

It's all pretty dirty, but the Metro is more of a nasty, underground subway. On our way in, we somehow made it to the Metro. Jim was on the RER- which is part of the reason he didn't understand why I was so freaked out. He gets it now. Thank goodness we're all going back together.

Don't know if I could handle doing it on my own again!

I think I used to be quite independent and much more adventurous. Sticking me out on five acres off our dirt road in Kansas took any of the city girl out of me that I might have had left.

Yesterday, we bought one-day passes for us mostly on the RER- what a world of difference. I'm still not a huge fan, but I wasn't freaked out. Maybe having Jim take charge had something to do with that as well. So, for transportation alone, we took the shuttle to the airport, the RER train downtown.

Just for transportation tickets down and back for our family, it was about $140.00. Nothing fancy, either. For real, this place isn't cheap. Everything is pretty pricey.

My plan was to get off at Notre Dame, then walk to the Eiffel Tower in order to see the sights along the way. After an hour or so of walking and barely moving on the map- we hopped on the train and took it across town. The 30-45 minute walk that I anticipated was way longer.

It was hot, sticky and crowded. There's no way we would have made it on foot. While we were all exhausted, the boys did great. Feeling the aches in our feet and bodies, we were especially proud that the little guys made it with very little complaining.
Notre Dame was closed for indoor tours, but walking around it was pretty cool. The size and history here is impressive in itself. We later ran in to a Priest on the street that told us they had four new priests ordained. Maybe that is why it was closed.
He asked where we were from, I said, "Germany." He said, "Wow- your English is good- not like German." He then told us he's from Houston. Maybe not the brightest, but nice enough.
We made it to the Eiffel Tower- it didn't disappoint. What a beautiful, massive structure. While there was a bit of a line for tickets and crowds {and crowds} of people, we made it to the top and enjoyed the amazing view.
Today, no one wants to go anywhere. Jim has a long day as this is the last day of the Air Show. We plan to relax. I'm not even sure they have the energy to go swimming- not a bad thing.
I'm thinking somewhere calmer and cleaner for our next trip. Maybe, the Alps, Switzerland or Austria. Perhaps rides on chair lifts instead of graffiti-laced Metro systems.
I think we've had our fill of corruption, smoke, crowds and big city for a while.
I never thought I'd say this but, I think we're ready to get back to Germany.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

more A I R show

More from the Paris Air Show. Justin took these first ones sticking his head out the top of the massive C-5. Pretty amazing view.

Friday, June 24, 2011

paris A I R show

It is very cool- the largest air show in the world. Jim got us passes and had us picked up at the hotel so we could see what he's been up to all week. It was Professional day, which he didn't know. They didn't allow any kids under 16. After passing the protest on the main street, we made it as far as the first security point before being turned away.
No worries- he called his new {French} friend who met him at another gate and walked us through after talking his way through. Helps to have someone who knows the language. Even he said everything in France is difficult. I'm seeing a common theme going on here in Europe.

We had a bit of time to walk around with Jim which was nice to cut through the barriers to avoid waiting in the lines. Kind of nice to know someone on the inside.

The US planes were mostly open for tours, and the crews were kind enough to let the boys get the VIP tour through them as well sitting in each cock-pit at the controls- the C-5 {huge}, C-17, C-130, and the Chinook helicopter. The C-5 was a little too high for me- Justin and Ty both were able to stick their head out the top.

There is also a Customs and Borders patrol plane here {all remote control} that the boys got to play with the simulator. Kind of cool.

I've never been too excited about Air Shows. In Anchorage, they come through every year it seems. My dad loves them, so it was the cool grandpa thing to take Justin and Ty when they were younger.

They both have very fond Grandpa memories and still enjoyed it. Dad- you would have loved this one. I think your son has a hat for you! xo

Thursday, June 23, 2011

day F O U R in paris

Day one {1} in Paris: Had the door close on me on the Metro: Justin saved my life. While walking out of the Subway up to the bus station Caden's first words were, "Look, mom- a rat." He was excited. I looked away to avoid seeing it which would have caused more nightmares than I already anticipated after our long travels.

Day two {2} in Paris: Scared for my life walking through the park with a shady bunch of guys staring me down... ids and money made it to my bra for the walk back.

Day three {3} in Paris: Witnessed a fight in front of our hotel between a bus driver and taxi driver. We were driving to grab some food and saw it only because the bus driver stopped his bus while pulling out of another hotel blocking traffic from both directions in order for all to see the brawl. It wasn't a pretty sight. Wow- these guys are no joke. Police showed up shortly after.

Day four {4} in Paris: Watched a protest in front of the airport where the air show was taking place. Lots of cops carrying huge shields. Of course, Jim had to run straight through it as he was trying to get someone to open a gate for us. We were turned away at the main gate as the French security said no kids were allowed today. We made it in, I'll post some cool pictures tomorrow.

Just another day in Paris, I guess.

Four down, six to go- yikes! Looking forward to seeing why this is called one of the most romantic cities in the world. More than anything today, I'm realizing I'm not a big city girl feeling a little overwhelmed.

And yes, I know I'm a wimp.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

open at S E V E N

As soon as we arrived at our hotel, downloaded our baggage and boys, Jim and I took a quick walk to the adjacent village in search of dinner Sunday evening. On the back side of the hotel, it was about a ten-minute walk through a nice park past a cemetary. I noted how clean and peaceful it felt. We held hands and enjoyed the cobblestone roads noting signs of France in every direction.
We ordered pizzas from one of the only places open and walked around the block while waiting. While Germans seem to be all about business, the French seem to be the opposite and not in a hurry to do anything.

Our walk was fairly uneventful as we returned with dinner ready to feed our exhausted and hungry bunch. Monday night, I headed out on the same path toward the village for dinner. This time on my own as I knew Jim would be working late. After an afternoon of swimming and games, the boys were tired and settled. Without thinking, I decided to just race out and back as quickly as I could to have dinner here when Jim returned from work.

Not too far down the trail, I noticed a group of young guys- three or four of them sitting on a park bench on the edge of the walkway. I wasn't too suspicious at first, then saw the one then another stand up and look directly toward me. They were whispering, of course if they were screaming I wouldn't have been any closer to knowing what they said. Then, a third one stood and looked me up and down.

I felt an immediate panic and looked around knowing no one else was in sight. I was on my own. I took a deep breath and tried to convince myself they were just looking at my disgraceful flip flops. Of course, my heart was racing.

I knew I couldn't turn around, so I charged forward putting my shoulders back a little and standing as tall as I could. That's what you're supposed to do when confronted with a bear, right? Of course, I stepped up my pace a little faster, too. As I got close and noticed them all staring straight through me, I turned and said, "Halo." What a dork, I know. Halo? It just came out.

They kind of looked at me and watched as I walked by. What a relief, but I knew I had to get back. I thought this trip was supposed to be sans stress. It was bright daylight, too. Not in the mood to venture any furthur, I stopped at the same pizza shop and ordered pizzas. I walked a bit further to the grocery that was open and bought some bread. When given my change, I sneakily took my military id, driver's license {I worked hard for that thing}, the Euro and American money I had and stuck it in my bra leaving very little in my wallet. I stuck it back in my {Nike} backpack with my bread sticking out the top and headed back to grab my pizzas.

I made it back just fine. This time, I watched as I entered the park and noticed them doing the same thing to others walking through. Yes, they were still there and said something to me as I walked back. I just shook my head and they all laughed- rotten kids. I was just glad to be safe with the hotel in sight.
From this little outing, I realized mostly how much I realized how rare if ever I'm alone. Also, how much I rely on the strength and security of a strong, confident husband. He did let me know that one day he walked through and saw that same group sitting there. While not afraid, he said it was uncomfortable. I won't be going anywhere here without one of my big boys or him. Lesson learned. I need and love the men in my life.

Last night, I took Ty with me in search of dinner. We struck out as we quickly realized everything was closed until at least 7pm for dinner. We were out at 5pm and NOTHING was open- how crazy is that? It was a nice hour-long walk with some great forced mom-son time. I enjoyed it, not sure he felt the same. The French eat late dinners as well.

I thought that was bad for your health to eat so late. How do they stay so skinny?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

nice R O B E nice legs

While I thought the sinks were pretty cool, Justin was the first to try on the hotel robe. Judging from his pictures, I think he likes it. It's never dull with four boys. I thought he had the women's one on, then realized both are the same. Nice soft woven cotton- it is quite nice.
This is Paris- must be in style. It is a little short for my tall boy.
It's another grey, rainy day. Nice weather for some down time. Reading, sleeping, gaming, movies and gearing up to venture to downtown in another day or two. I mentioned jumping on the Metro to them last night and they said, "No... not the Metro." Might take another couple days until we're ready to go for it again! We're definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Monday, June 20, 2011

m is for M E T R O

Wow- what a ride. What a long day. We are safe and sound in our hotel here in Paris. I'm pretty sure it's going to take me a couple days to get the courage up to jump back on the local transit system. It is not for the weak!

I don't know what I would have done without my big boys. I think more than anything today, I feel truly grateful for strong, smart sons to take care of their mom. In a huge, scary city with a million people- they stepped up to the plate, held it together and helped me through.
the ICE train- 315 km/hr- super fast 
We left our house yesterday afternoon and headed to the closest train station- no problem. The hour I spent straightening my hair was all for nothing as we hit a huge downpour getting out of the van. Nice start- I was soaked.

With more than a ton of luggage in tow, we made it on the first train. Jim warned me they wait for no one- to get on and off quickly and make sure not to leave anyone behind. How scary would that be?
We successfully got on and off that train, then on the second one for the hour and a half remaining to Paris. After the scuffle to find out seats, I realized she had all five of them spread out, but worse than that we were seated in the quiet car. Why in the world would she put us there? She knew I had small kids. Oh, well- at least we were on.
With two seats together, I sat there with the little guys- one sitting in the aisle. It worked. That was the easy part of the trip. Now to make it to the hotel. After getting specific instructions {since Jim just made this same trip last week} to get on the Metro, make one transfer, then shuttle from the hotel from the airport. The info chick decided to route us another way which would be much better and much faster. I bought tickets and we headed out.
After figuring out which metro to get on, we jumped on not without the doors closing on me. No pictures on the Metro- I was too stressed out. Thankfully, Ty got on first loaded down with two suitcases and a backpack. We had the little guys after Ty but in front of us, and Justin was able to push the door open so I could finish getting on. No joke, it was about a 10-second window for jumping on.
Unnerved, we took the ride and got off at the last stop- Pablo Picasso of all places. We then were told to jump on the bus. Bus 93 to be exact which was no where to be found. I did however find a nice woman {dressed in what looked like traditional modest Muslim clothing covered from head to toe with only her face showing} who helped me with her limited English, my mixed-up German/English and non-existent French. 
After approaching her, Caden asked, "Is she your friend?" Yep- she was now. After spending more than ten or fifteen minutes helping us, I tried to offer her some money which she refused. I then said, "Danke, no thank you..." then Danke again not remembering even how to thank her. {Justin reminded me I said Danke twice...} She graciously said, "You're welcome." Oh, I'm so confused.
She got us to the right bus stop, only to find out we had missed the first one and had a 45-minute wait. No problem- the boys were great. Caden had fun chasing the pigeons. We caught the bus, which felt like heaven after being on the transit. Nice padded seats, Rasta music- time to relax. Our stop was supposed to be a short two-minute walk to the hotel. After being let off, we realized it was more like twenty. I was surprised- no one complained. A proud mom moment for sure.
FINALLY... on the bus, the last leg of our trip... still smiling
Exhausted, we got to the hotel and waiting at the front door- my knight in shining armor.
This hotel is a Health and Wellness Center- I'm hoping to take in a little of the relaxing aura it presents. It's been a long week- I'm ready for some down time, then we'll hit Paris! Just being all together makes it all right again even if Jim has to work all day.

I'm loving the bathroom sinks and the jetted tub. Coleman and Caden can't wait to hit the pool this afternoon. Justin and Ty are in the weight room now.

We've let the boys know they can all take as long as they would like in the shower or bath as many times a day as they'd like. They better do it before we get back to Germany.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

alles K L A R

I always think company is a great excuse to have the whole house clean. It forces me to get those little things done {dusting for one} that I always seem to put off. Plus, everything is clean at the same time which I love for the entire six minutes that it lasts.

Last night, I was vacuuming at 1:30 {in the morning}. Crazy, I know- I wasn't happy about it at all. After a crazy busy week, no husband, planning for vacation, school letting out, moving my friend, starting to pack, four boys and a dog-  Rosa {our soon to be landlord of the past} rings the doorbell at 5:30pm.

It was bad enough Coleman opened the door as I'm screaming, "Don't open the door," only to let Lady out. She's not the dog who bolts out the door- she just barks and barks when it's someone she doesn't know or like. You would think she knows Rosa by now- seven months of seeing her practically every day and she still has to bark like an attack dog. Either she's dumb as a doornail or maybe she knows something about the Russians that we just suspect. Maybe a little of both.

So, the knock on the door was to let me know she had a showing set up for our house at 11:00 this morning. Seriously- it's Friday night? After telling me anything, she always likes to add the phrase, "Alles Klar?" All is clear? What if I didn't understand German- I always wonder this as they've made no attempt to learn a single word in English. Renting to Americans you would think they would make a little effort.

Oh well, I got it- let her know I understood. Then, the panic attack kicked in with every room a complete disaster, four dirty toilets, laundry waiting to be put away and suitcases along with everything else spread randomly throughout the house. It's one of my life-long goals to keep my house clean enough that at any given moment anyone could drop in and I wouldn't have to scurry to pick up things. I'd just love to be that on top of things all the time!

We survived and have a clean house top to bottom {minus the oven and showers- I hate those jobs}. I'm grateful now, because I would have been cleaning tonight- all night or perhaps even tomorrow. Maybe, I should thank Rosa. Or, not. I did let the prospective renters know if they'd like to come back later and talk or ask me any other questions, I'd be happy help them. Ornery? Maybe a little bit.

Instead, tonight I get to think about vacation in Paris in less than 24 hours and getting to see my husband after a long week apart. I miss him terribly and can't wait to see him. No cooking or cleaning for ten days- I'm a little excited about that, too.
Undivided attention and time with my boys to connect and make some amazing memories. Ahh... let summer break begin! I should have some pictures to come this week...

Look what I just bought with some saved birthday money. I can't wait to use it- it's a tripod that supposedly hooks to anything- a pole, uneven surface and just about anywhere else. I do plan on taking some pictures this week, maybe I'll even get in a few of them!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

N O T I C E has been given

I gave notice. What a feeling of relief and peace to have that hard task behind me. I assumed they'd be mad, then a friend asked me, "You really think they'll be mad? How can they be mad?" Well, it's not hard to rent a place here since there is a huge shortage of houses. It's a newer, fairly nice house- we just don't like it. Maybe they wouldn't be mad afterall. But, I think they're mad.

Sunday evening, I finally caught them both in the backyard so I headed out to get the signature on my termination notice. Rosa saw me coming and smiled, then when I handed her the paper she said, "Nein, Nein, Nein...Oh, Schade, Schade..." I initially thought Schade meant shame. I looked it up- the translation is pity. I explained myself as best I could. Mostly, I was happy to check this task off my never-ending to-do list.  Johannes gave me a look that could burn a hole through me then said, "No problem." She put her hand on my shoulder as I left and with her head hung low said "oh, Sheila- schade" a few more times. Maybe they thought they were good to us.

I can't figure out if they're really sad to see us leave. We really are good tenants in spite of having a dog and four kids. Or, are they just upset they have to go through the work of starting over with someone new? I'll likely never know.

Tonight, Johannes is mowing. Up until now he's always mowed our area and the other two in addition to his yard. I just noticed he mowed the other two, but not ours. Is it because Jim weed wacked a week ago and it's not that long? Or, is there another reason? Again, I'll never know.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

E is for Eiffel T O W E R

This is one of the books we've been reading for bedtime this week. One of the several books I found at the library for a quick education on France- another country I know next to nothing about.

Very informative, beautiful pictures- I want to own every one in the set, then go visit every city, every monument and every park listed.  Each page has beautiful art, a short poem and additional text including background on the place, person or idea highlighted. Love it.
I'm thinking the Italy one might be next on my list.

Other books listed include:
A is for America
M is for Maple {Canada}
B is for Bagpipes {Scotland}
C is for Ciao {Italy}
P is for Pinata {Mexico}
S is for Shamrock {Ireland}
D is for Down Under {Australia}
D is for Dancing Dragon {China}

I'm also reading this book which is equally as informative with so many ideas. With 68 different cool things to do in Paris, I could probably use this book alone and still never have time to see and do everything available.

For each landmark it gives a brief description, then also the address, phone number, Web site, hours and even the pricing.

I think it's crazy for so many places how they have the pricing. For example, to go to the Catacombes {highly recommended and on my list}, it is 3.50 Euro for ages 14-26, 7 Euro for adults 27 and up. I've never seen this before. Age 27 must be that magical number you're finally an adult.

Too bad they don't charge kids prices for meals up until age 26. Now that would save us some money.

Even better- I was reading about a place called Aquaboulevard. A year-round indoor-outdoor water park it sounds pretty cool.

As a side bar, I read:

"Note that baggy shorts-type bathing suits for men and boys are not allowed; brief-style swimwear is required."

I'm pretty sure my big boys would rather die than wear brief-style swimshorts to a public pool. Jim too for that matter. We are in Europe- do as the Europeans, right? Think I should surprise them... a day at the pool and new shorts? Oh, this could be fun.

Monday, June 13, 2011

we're M O V I N G

Last week, I felt strongly that I needed to do something with our kitchen. It's no secret this kitchen has frustrated me from day one. After the initial move in, I always hit a wall. I wish I could slowly be able to place things where they want to go and end up with a perfectly-organized home. I kind of start that way, then end up shoving stuff towards the end because I'm just tired of looking at it.

Well, last week I decided to go back through our kitchen and laundry room and organize. I ripped everything out and started over ending up quite content with what I had accomplished. I finally decided I wouldn't hate this kitchen any longer.

I also said last week for now we'll stay put. Well, we're moving.

I know it sounds crazy. Two huge moves in less than seven months. This one we get to do on our own making it even harder. That being said, I can't even describe the peace we already feel with our decision to leave Oberstaufenbach.

Just over a week ago, my friend was offered a house on base. Of course, they offer it to her the day she left to the states for the summer. With her husband deployed for a year, I let her know I'd help in any way I could. The thought even crossed my mind to let another friend look at her house as she's been wanting to downsize and move. While we really love the house, we didn't think too much about taking it over. Primarily, I knew they didn't want a dog there. Mostly, I didn't want the headache.

While giving the notice to her landlord last week, I had an immediate change of heart and knew this could possibly change our entire experience in Germany.

I've wanted to like our landlords now- I really have, but I don't. I don't think they're nice people and especially in the beginning they didn't treat us very well. Our deposit alone on this house was 3000 Euro- that's over $4300. More than anything, we are afraid the longer we are here, the more likely they'll find reasons to keep it. The trust is not there knowing they will argue for every cent {and she has}. The mold is a huge issue. The distance we travel to base {15-20 min each way} has worn on us especially with the price of gas making two or three trips some days.

I was completely taken back by the kindness shown in the first five minutes talking to the new landlords. She and her husband spoke to me at the door, then welcomed us {Caden and I} in to their home to sit down and talk. They even speak English. With no hesitation, they said it would be just fine for us to move in even having a dog. I left feeling excited and overwhelmed at the same time.

The house is five minutes from base- the location is prime. The village is beautiful- bakeries, a little store or two, even a restauraunt. The trails are amazing. The church bells ring all the time. It's a real village.  The house is beautiful with a real sink. A real sink. With a full basement for storage, it feels much larger than our house now with a much better layout. Our new neighbor is the Frau across the road.

Upon leaving, I called Jim and said it was a no-brainer, we're moving. I tried to explain to Jim how nice they were. I think in my obsessed state of mind, I said it at least ten times. Friday night, we stopped back by their home to go over a new contract. Again, they welcomed us in to sit at their table and visit. After more than an hour, we left elated. Jim understood what I was saying and felt the exact same way.

I walked away with my heart so full that someone would be so kind to us. I felt like crying and I have. They're different tears this time.

I'm not sure I believe it's always necessary to taste the bitter in order to appreciate the sweet. I don't know if I would have thought they were so nice if we hadn't experienced what we did initially. I do know my gratitude is deep and my appreciation abundant. I feel as though we have been given a fresh start. I'm even excited to hang pictures.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

off to P A R I S

He's off again... this time it's back to Paris for the Air Show. It will be three very busy weeks for him as he's anticipating long, long days.

This week, I finally broke down and bought train tickets so we could meet up and experience Paris as well. The boys and I are heading out next Sunday for a long overdue vacation.

For us {the boys and I}, I think Paris will be a little more exciting. While I feel extremely guilty for planning a trip now given our two-house-payment financial situation, it was an opportunity we just couldn't pass up. Paris is not cheap.

With a hotel suite paid for {including breakfast}, that's a huge expense we don't have to account for.  The hotel also has a nice weight room and swimming pool we plan to use daily.

I've started my research and told my German neighbor I had checked out ten books from the library to read up on this new huge city with so much to see and do.
She looked at me a little funny and said, "Ten books?" I laughed back and to throw her off a little I said, "Oh, maybe twenty." I'm sure she already thinks I'm crazy.

I told her I'm a little nervous and she said, "It's ok. Everyone speaks English." Good to know.

I plan to walk the legs off off of the boys while making it the trip of a lifetime. Jim and I might have to go back alone to catch the romantic side of Paris. It's only a two-hour trip on the fast train- pretty amazing.
With more than enough to do this week, I have my hands full this week. Memories to come.

Friday, June 10, 2011

wet C E M E N T

I've mentioned the Armed Forces Network {AFN} before. With a dish on our roof and box on our tv, it allows us to tap in to American television- probably seven or eight basic {very basic} channels. We mostly only have the tv on for UFC fight nights, Super Saturday cartoons {C & C}. Surprisingly, I haven't even missed tv as sucked in as I used to be to my favorite reality shows.
One of the side benefits of watching AFN is you get the commercials alongside the limited programming. We're not talking about McDonalds or Olive Garden or even Applebees. These charming spots are all about the military, made by the military.
Naturally. Super corny and low/no budget, they're mostly horrible- there's no other way to describe them. On the flip side, they are probably better than seeing Red Lobster or anything food related knowing those restaurants don't exist on this continent.

Last week, we saw this commercial showing a boy walking through an old man's cement. It's all about patience and I love it. A real commercial, I was shocked.

This morning, I did something I've never done IN MY LIFE and never thought I would do FOR AS LONG AS I AM ALIVE. Never say never, right? While stopping by a house on base following a woman I've never met, I actually stepped in wet cement. All on my own, I didn't even have a kid around me to blame.

What in the world was I thinking? I'm usually a little more head's up than that.

The workers had obviously just poured new concrete in the inside of an entryway to a stairwell apartment building. Maybe it was the inside that threw me off?! Concrete is supposed to be for sidewalks, right? They had a thin plank laid across the top to obviously walk on.

I started walking across, then felt it give, panicked and stuck my foot straight in the newly-poured, super wet concrete. No footprint here, it hadn't even set up enough yet. Yep, flip flop and all up past my ankle bone dripping in concrete. I stood there for a minute trying to figure out what to do.

The woman told me there was a hose outside. I'm sure she thought I was an idiot, but at least she helped me out. I hobbled out, sprayed off and tried to hurry as fast as I could to get out of there before these German workers returned from their lunch. I'm really trying to win their favor rather than ignite their tempers. Pretty sure I didn't succeed today. Caden sat in the van watching me the whole time. I'm sure he thought I was crazy- what a role reversal.

This commercial is just a little more meaningful now.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

a little C U L T U R E

Crazy, busy week here. Things are movin' and shakin'. We should have some exciting news by next week. No, we're not moving on base but... we might be moving to a different house. Crossing our fingers and trying not to think of how much WORK might be directly in front of us. Feeling a little stressed and overwhelmed, I decided to write a little here since I have so much time on my hands.

Until our big enormous move this year, I never imagined living anywhere but the United States. Ever. While we enjoy traveling, I never had that internal drive to experience life in another country and culture. Now that we are here, I'm seeing the benefits and opportunities that the boys are especially gaining by living in Europe. Education in another culture- even attending American schools.

I just filled out the application to get Coleman into the German Partial Immersion Enrichment Program. It's a slim chance that he'll get in, but I'd be thrilled. Right now {first grade}, they pull them out weekly for Spanish and for German.

In the short time that we have been here, I'm amazed at how much vocabulary he has already learned and retained.
If he gets in the Immersion Program, he will learn Math, Science, Health and Social Studies all in German- 50% of the day. I can't image how much he'll be able to absorb with that much exposure. I get excited just thinking about it.

I'm also so impressed with how much of the German culture he is learning in his classroom. Last month, he went on a Volksmarch. Caden and I were able to join him. In Germany, it's one day each year that they have a walk- typically ten kilometers. For the elementary school, it was two miles. They got a pretzel at the end. Kind of cool.

Last week, he had his first field trip and was able to take the train to the Karlsruhe Zoo. The zoo is about 100 miles from our house, but being able to jump on the train, they were able to make it happen. They also got to go on a gondola ride at the zoo.
Not your typical zoo end-of-the-year field trip. Not a typical childhood for that matter.