Saturday, July 30, 2011

a little like A L A S K A

I found some fireweed today. Reminded me of Alaska. When the blossoms hit the top, it means summer is over. It must mean the same thing here. Oh, I'm so glad it's less than half way up the stem.

We finally got out and enjoyed the beautiful trails here. It's a runners + bikers + walkers + jogger's paradise.

The trails are wonderful.
Absolutely B E A U T I F U L! I took a bunch of pictures- I'll post more tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

just a S P R A I N

Thankfully, it's just a sprained ankle. A late-night trip to the ER with Justin and luckily it's nothing serious.

Very lucky. It's hard to keep this kid down for any period of time. A lot like his dad. A lot like his little brother.

They don't always have the most patience or make for the best patients.

He {and Ty} were spending the night at a friend's house playing a game basketball out in the cul-de-sac. As Justin came down, he landed on James' ankle at 9:40 to be exact. Thanks, James for remembering the details and being such a compassionate friend. They said it swelled right up, the above picture is after an hour of ice {frozen veges to be exact} after the swelling had already gone down some.

He called me and said, "Uh, Mom- I got hurt."

Definitely in good hands, the neighbor {of the friend he was staying with} is an ER doctor did a quick evaluation and happened to have a set of crutches.

He kindly called ahead to the ER and let them know Justin was on the way so he was immediately taken in to X-ray.

What a bonus to avoid that long inevitable wait that usually accompanies any Emergency Room trip.

They lived on base, so the hospital was just a minute away. James' mom graciously drove him there and stayed with him until I showed up. By the time I arrived, he was already out of X-ray and shortly after seen by the doctor. Nothing serious, he needs to stay off it for a while, ice and elevate it.
Sleep-deprived Ty offered quite a bit of humor in letting Justin know he'd beat him in a crab-walk race- right now. He also went over the RICE advice, fresh in his memory from his shin splints. Plenty of laughs were had. They tried to get Ty to try poppin' a wheelie in the wheelchair- then promptly told him not to.
Ready to jump off the table and get out of there the trick now will be to keep him down for a little bit in order to avoid further injury. I dropped them back off at James's house to finish up their overnighter. Even a sprain couldn't keep them from hanging out.

If he wants to make it to football camp in a couple weeks- he better chill. Not easy for a kid who loves to work out. All friends are welcome to keep him company. I'm heading to check out movies for the weekend. It could be a long one.

I love my son dearly but, have a feeling- he's going to drive me crazy.
Update... here's how it looked the next day. The bruise comes through a little more each day. He definitely has a cankle.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

our L I V I N G room

I've been completely unproductive today and feeling quite guilty because of it. Not much of anything even got checked off my list. I started out ready to go, then fizzled fast. How does that happen? It's cloudy, rainy and almost cold enough to start a fire in our new fireplace. The crock pot is going if you can believe it.

It's been more than a week {more like 10 or 11 days} since we handed over the keys and tried to check out of our old house in order to end that short dreadful chapter of our lives. I've sent three e-mails and a left a phone message with the English-speaking realtor who agreed to be the go-between and translate for Rosa. Still no word on the price of our repairs {an oven because we broke the handle and some paint}.

We're running out of patience.

If we still had the key and knew it would be this long, we would have gone and gotten a new oven, plaster and paint and made the fixes. Since we don't- we'll have to wait.
Landlords do this because they have hold of such huge security deposits. Ours were in such a hurry to get their money. When roles are reversed- there is no rush on their part. Why can't they just make one thing easy for us- just one?
I finally put a call in to the Housing Office Liaison this morning to get some help. She said she'd make some calls and get back with me. So, I've been waiting by the phone all day long. Literally, by the phone since we have only one phone and it's on a super-short cord.

Who in the world still has corded phones, anyway? We do. At least over here, we do. Maybe it's time to buy a new cordless unit since our American one won't work here. They're just so expensive.

Here's a look at a little more of our house. This is obviously the dining and living room areas. It's two levels of living space with the laundry/kitchen/dining/living/fireplace/master bed and bath on the main level.
Upstairs there is a second bathroom, three full bedrooms, a cute little hideaway toy room behind Coleman and Caden's bedroom, a slanted half-room and a great {super sunny} loft area that we are making into an office.

Downstairs is a fabulous full basement for storage. It's old, the ceilings are low but it's SO nice to have the space. I actually have some hiding spots for Christmas gifts this year. I sitll can't believe how much space we have and how much this house is saving us in stress and Euro. I need to add it up.

Here's how it looks after a week. The charm of the wood floors has really grown on me. I don't normally favor lighter woods, but I really like them here. So cozy. I usually want to paint walls as quickly as I can as well, but I really like the stark, clean white. Maybe {Pepto Bismol} pink and {Oatmeal puke... Jess's description, right?} yellow walls do that. For now, white is beautiful.
Maybe, I'll make it upstairs to the loft to work tomorrow. Boxes, boxes and more boxes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

he makes me W O R K

Coleman said to me this morning, "Mom- since Daddy's not home today to make you work, can you lay with me and watch movies?"

Oh, I'm so glad they all see the driving force for work behind our family. I'll go ahead and let them continue to believe I'm the one who likes to play.

We did get a lot accomplished this weekend. Namely, the basement is cleared out and semi-cleaned. That was huge. It's huge.

We are loving the space for storage- love, love, love it.

We also got our bedroom in order.

It's small and simple, but we prefer to call it cozy. We love it. We like the big comfy chair we put in the corner- but are less fond of the fabric {and colors} on it now.  It will be re-finished as soon as I learn how to do it, or find someone to do it. For now, it stays put.

Alexandra {our landlord} has curtains for every window of the house and had her housekeeper wash them all up for us before we moved in. It's these little things that I notice and am so appreciative of. Slowly, we're getting them on the windows.

We did our best to hide our base-issued shrank behind the door creating a little more space. I'm learning the tops of them are a great space for storing folded up quilts and blankets.

Really, the lack of closets really forces you to be streamlined and even more organized. It's hard enough trying to figure out where to store the things we have and use. No need in keeping anything you don't need. We have a Red Cross drop at the end of our street which is wonderful- we've already used it for clothing we've outgrown. Super convenient.

We love all the light the big windows allow in. All of our rolladens {blinds on the outside of the windows} are power-operated, which is nice and super modern. With the push of a button, they open and close.

They make a room pitch-black for good sleeping and sleeping in. I'm surprised these haven't made their way to Alaska with the long summer nights up there.

Of course, there's still a small space for a little monster who manages to find his way into our room every night.

Feels like a home. Already.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

so much R A I N here

Oh, I wish I could send some of the Germany rain to our hot Kansas friends. The last I read, Kansas had temperatures in the triple digits for 29 or 30 days this summer. Normal for Yuma {right, Grandpaw?} that's hot even for Kansas. Perfect for the pool, this mama would love some of that tan. Just soak it up for me, too.

Here, I think we've had the same number of days of rain. It hasn't bothered me too much. I think I'm definitely Alaska-white once again, but I do like the fact that my flowers are getting {free} water.

You know how I am about that expensive water thing.

This is our little garage. It's actually bigger than the one-car garage we had in our last house. If I was brave, I would have run out there to get an inside picture, but you get the idea.

There is even shelving in the back, which makes Jim really, really happy. He's actually quite content and excited about this new garage.

For me, this is hard to believe coming from my husband who loves lots of garage {and shop} space. Aah, Germany is changing us all. I think it's getting under our skin.

It's kind of funny- parking is a premium here in Germany. I'd even guess Europe as a whole has very little parking space. We have two spaces in our driveway, and the space in front of our garage which is the farthest space. Some landlords even are allowed to {and do} charge extra for a garage. Luckily, ours doesn't.

Have I said yet how much I love our new landlord?
There's an old hoop on the side of the garage that the boys have been playing on. It's nice for Caden {& Justin} to have a little space again to get out and burn off some energy. It's nice for me feeling calmer and not the crazy mom worried about the little guys being on the busy street. It's all good.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

S A T U R D A Y jobs

It's all work today in the Dickey household. My mom likes to call is Saturday jobs. I prefer to just call it a work day.
Yes, the boys are thrilled. Thrilled. Justin says it's tough having parents who love to work so much.
The goal to get every box from the basement to the correct room of the house. We'll see how far we get. Anything more than than will be a bonus.  

Until I get our house organized, in order and decorated, I'll show the outside of our new house. The yard is just as tiny, but we have a nice concrete terrace out the back door with an extra space {rocks and ivy} to let Lady go potty. Nice that she won't have to go in the yard- the little grass we have to care for.

No neighbors on either side makes for a little more space and even being in the middle of houses, we still feel a little privacy.

It's funny how a more cheerful perspective makes things that would normally be negatives not so bad.
After what we've been though and continue to deal with {no, we still haven't gotten our $4000+ deposit back} we're so happy with everything. It's all good.

I love that she planted flowers in the front yard. Beautiful perinneals with lots of color. I can't wait to have time to work out there. I love them.
It is a really, really old house. As I mentioned before, it was our landlords grandparents' house. What I love is that they completely renovated the entire house just over two years ago. Everything was new with a bit of the old charm remaining. The original wood floors are throughout the house- I think she said they were seventy years old.

Hopefully, this week I'll make it  room by room to display pictures of our new space.
our little front yard... notice the house made of bricks across the street...that's how they do it here

Friday, July 22, 2011

more S T R E P

Between Caden crying last night complaining about a sore throat and Coleman throwing up {poor guy} a couple times- we're a little tired today.

We've had both of them sleeping on the floor in our room which makes it even harder. I love my kids, but I {really} dislike them in my bedroom.
Coleman because we've been waking up to give him medicine. He's still pretty sick- I like to have him close.

And, Caden- well because he's our little Caden.
He still hasn't figured out how to sleep through the night. He relies heavily on his brothers- we didn't even bother trying to talk him into sleeping in his room alone. I firmly believe with parenting- it's all about picking your battles. This one- we chose to let go.
So, It was another trip to the clinic this morning. This time: Caden. Yep, sick again but you wouldn't know by looking at him. He almost hasn't missed a beat and continues to run around even this afternoon. It's hard to hold this little ball of energy down for any length of time.

Definitely strep throat {again}. The doctor took one look at his red-dotted throat and diagnosed it on the spot. What's the deal? The doctor told me he's likely a carrier. Some are, some aren't. We just got lucky.

I got a referral {no questions asked} back to the ENT clinic for him- he might be next to get his tonsils out. The sooner, the better.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

a real S I N K

I like to think I'm a simple girl. Relatively low maintenance- I don't like shopping, I'm ok with getting dirty and I know how to {and often do... especially as of late} work hard. Good shampoos and hair products are a must-have area, but most other things- I can live just fine without.
Manicures and pedicures and time at the spa are wonderful, but again I just fine without. I'm easy. Give me a new kitchen {specifically a sink} and I'm good for a long, long time. I'm a happy girl.

I had come to grips with living in our old {rental} house. Daily, I had to reminded myself it was only temporary.
I wasn't happy with it or the circumstances, but determined to make it work.

Just weeks before we decided to make this move, I even re-organized our laundry room and kitchen cupboards {all three of them} in an honest effort to make it work better. Still, it never felt like a home or that we were settled.

We've been here one week and already feel more settled that we have since entering this country. There are still lots and lots of boxes to unpack and things to put away, but it feels like a home. Our home.

I think the best thing about this new house is the kitchen. I walk in and still can't believe how nice it feels.

The cupboards.

The light.

The counterspace.

The sink. Oh, the sink.

I feel like the most spoiled girl around just because of a new kitchen sink. Trust me- I know how silly that sounds. It's just the most wonderful thing to be able to wash dishes without the spout spraying all over the place. Or, having your shirt soaked because it's impossible to wash anything without making a mess since nothing fit in our other mini RV-sink.

I'm pretty sure Justin wouldn't agree, but we {Jim & I} think it's actually enjoyable {again} to do dishes. To have a nice, clean kitchen.

I love it. All of it.

Two nice-sized windows make it a super sunny, warm space with ample light.

The cupboards are great, but a bonus on one lower cupboard {I should have taken pictures with it clean, sorry} is that the shelves are on a track. As soon as you pull the front shelf out, a hidden shelf opens up as well.

It's kind of nice to have a space for {almost} everything. And, to be able to open a cupboard without everything falling out.
Yes... it's a mess, I'll be organizing... but look at all that space!
The oven is even larger than our old one. Our largest roasting pan still doesn't fit, but my regular-sized cookie sheets do. That makes me so happy.

Already this week, I've made pumpkin bars and brownies-  just because I can.

That's more baking than I've done since we moved here. Not sure if that's good or bad.

It gets even better.

A real laundry room with even more shelving just through that door on the side. Main-level laundry room next to the kitchen?

Yes, I do love simple things.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

such a B R A V E kid

He was so brave. This was his before picture and he even had a smile for me. He is such a sweet boy.
Monday, I took Coleman to his pre-op appointments with the ENT and Anesthesia doctors.

We registered him with the hospital and had his vitals and other last-minute things checked. He was set to go. On the way home, he let me know his tummy hurt because he was so nervous while I was talking to the doctors and nurses.

With his hospitalization from last year still a little too fresh in his memory, just walking in the hospital doors is stressful. He was scheduled to be the second surgery of the morning with his doctor.

We checked in at 6:15 am. After she finished her first surgery, she let us know that an emergency came up and they had to use her room. We were on hold.

They finally took him back at about 10:30. That's a long time to wait for a little guy who couldn't eat or drink and had to deal with a little anxiety.

Luckily, we had a wonderful anesthesiologist who did a great job distracting him to get him in the OR.
He let him know he was going to have to blow a huge balloon up and Coleman better get ready.

Last night, Coleman said, "I never got the silly gas." He remembered blowing in the balloon, but had no idea how he got to sleep. Perfect.
After more than an hour in the OR, the doctor brought us back and let us know everything went well. What a relief. I know it's a small, routine surgery, but as the clock was ticking we felt more and more nervous just wanting to know he was ok and awake.
He was in pain, but calm which was nice to see. They were quick to get pain killers in him and got his pain under control for us to return to the post-surgery room. He drank a little water and took a little nap. We were all set to leave and the IV was the last thing to come out. Jim even headed down to bring up the van to the front door.

While taking it out, he got sick {throwing up} which set us back about another hour but we made it home. The boys were happy to see their brother.

Justin and Ty did a great job holding things down while we were gone ALL day. Caden even got to go along with Justin to basketball practice {which he loved}.
I think we're all so glad it's over. Now, for the popcycles, ice cream, jell-o, pudding and some down time. Coleman asked Dr. Henry before surgery if he could keep his tonsils. She let him know they weren't allowed to do that. But, they did take our camera in to the OR and took pictures for him. Yuck.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

no more T O N S I L S

It was a L O N G day at the hospital with our sweet Coleman J today. We're home and he's doing as well as to be expected after getting his tonsils and adenoids taken out. Filled with signs of infection, the doctor said they definitely needed to come out.
With four or five positive strep infections this last year alone, we knew we were making the right decision in scheduling his surgery. We're even more grateful it's over and he came through like a champ.

We're ALL exhausted and heading to bed. Hopefully, it's not too long of a night.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

no reasoning with these R U S S I A N S

We're officially in Mackenbach. Unfortunately, we haven't seen the end of our Russian nightmare {aka Johannes & Rosa}. More than anything, we are so grateful to almost be done with them. It's been a super long week.
moving day... Lady wouldn't get out of the van,
she was ready to go!
Wednesday, we had our truck and got everything moved over. Thursday was cleaning day for us. We made it over there by noon only to have Rosa show up letting us know they had a showing- another showing. In fifteen minutes. Whatever.
Jim was determined to continue cleaning so we did.

Much to our dislike, they walked around the house fretting that we weren't done and it wasn't going to look good for their potential renters. They even picked up and turned on the vacuum that was upstairs and started vacuuming. So irritating.

I let her know we paid to live there through Friday.
They even went and got a paint roller and started spot painting the white walls and did a nice cover-up job on the moldy spots. So wrong.
After their first showing, they let us know another would be there in another two hours. We kept cleaning. Shortly after, she rang the doorbell asking me to help her with another potential renter on her phone that needed directions.

I spent no less than thirty minutes on the phone helping her only to have them call back and cancel their appointment. Why do I continue to be nice and help her? I don't know.
We truly believe they're the most greedy, self-centered people we have ever met. Ever.

We had two small spots {each about the size of a quarter} that the plaster came off the wall. Simple mud and paint and they'd be covered up.

She was also super quick to point {in her very condescending tone} out the smudges on her beautiful pink wall. I held my hands up and let her know {in German} that I can't wash her flat paint walls- the paint comes off.

She just said, "I know."

To us, this was normal wear and tear on a house. To them, they want everything in brand-new condition without a spot.

This last week, I opened the oven door and dropped it, breaking the handle. One week to go and I have to break it- so irritating. Oh well. Jim tried to glue it with some Gorilla glue- didn't work. So, we knew we'd be paying for a new door.
We cleaned and cleaned and cleaned our house and were set to check out with her yesterday.

Eight months of living there and that stinkin' house is spotless. Four kids and a dog to only have a few smudges, we really did take care of that house.

In paying our half-month rent for July, we also deposited half of the amount we pay for garbage. Fair, right? Nope. She also let us know we have to pay the entire month of garbage even only being there for two weeks.

What a rip off. She'll get a full month out of the next people, too. I'm sure. For Rosa, it's all about the money. Never in my life have I heard anyone argue over twenty cents as she did when we moved in. Over two thousand dollars a month we paid them in rent and she argued it down to the penny.

We had the garbage can empty, but Jim made sure to fill it up with as much as he could before we left including the poop he scooped out of the backyard. He'd like to flush cement down the toilets, but resisted the urge.

Yesterday, we were set to settle up with her and get out of there. Nope, we should have known it wouldn't be that easy. She told us the oven door couldn't be replaced- we have to pay for a whole new oven.

At this point, we need to be done with them. The stress they've caused us since moving here has already been too much.

Then, she let us know the two spots on the wall are a huge problem too. They can't find that same paint to fix the spots, so we have to pay to have the whole wall painted.

Pretty much- she's getting what she wanted. New paint at our expense. On top of that, Johannes is too busy to do it since he's working {whatever that means} so we have to pay to have someone paint it since they're losing money every day on that rental.

We'll be getting an estimate for both on Monday. We're exhausted.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

two B A T H R O O M S

I'm ready to fast forward to tomorrow and get this DONE! Moving day is just a night's rest away and we can't wait to get it over with.

There really is so much for us to be excited for with this move. Most of it we will be able to appreciate better once we're settled and get through the work of the actual moving.

One of the biggest {silliest} things for me is downsizing from four {4} toilets to two{2} toilets. Sounds crazy, I know.

But, I really, really like clean {squeaky clean} bathrooms.

I've struggled in this house to keep them clean. Do you know how hard it is to keep four {various sizes from mini to average} bathrooms clean on three different levels of a house with four {4} boys and a husband?

Difficult. Very difficult. Most days, I've failed terribly.

While my friend moving out of our new house is excited for more bathrooms, I'm super happy for fewer. Two bathrooms, one on each level and I can't wait.

I think the odds are more in my favor after this move that I'll be able to at least have one clean at any given time. No guarantees, but I like the chances of it happening a little better.
Check out these huge sinks in the boys' upstairs bathroom. Beautiful, I think I'm in love.

Monday, July 11, 2011

for now I'll T A K E it

LONG week ahead for us... I'm trying to keep an eye on the end result- a new house. It's not super fancy or anything extra special, but it's perfect for our family for the remainder of our time here in Germany. We can't wait to get in and make it our own peaceful haven.

I stand in our new kitchen and just love looking through the huge windows and using what feels like an enormous sink. Then, I have to laugh a little realizing again it's all about perspective. After using a mini RV-size sink for eight months, this one feels like luxury. Compared to an average US kitchen, it's probably similar to a nice apartment-sized space. For now, I'll take it.

It's been a lot of hard work, but we're still more than excited to get moved and settled in Mackenbach.

With just a couple days left here, it's getting down to the wire. I'm wondering now if it's easier to start packing three weeks in advance and moving bits and pieces at a time, or just to cram it all in a couple days and call it good? Usually, we end up killing ourselves when we do it all in a couple days. Maybe spread out is better but it sure feels like we've been doing nothing but moving f o r e v e r.

Boxes filled with nothing but odds and ends in serious need of organization, a dirty fridge in need of cleaning and another shower with hard water spots to somehow get to disappear. Going on suggestions from friends to clean these hard water stains, we have bought Scrubbing Bubbles MEGA shower, CLR, Mr. Cleans, tons of white vinegar. Hopefully, one of the above {or any combination} will work. Jim also bought a squeegie to keep in the shower to hopefully minimize these hard-water nightmares in the future.

As I always worry about having things clean enough, Jim's reminded me that we usually clean up a house as well or better than most. We like super clean and try to leave it that way.

I'm thinking next time, I need to just hire it out to someone else... the cleaning, packing, moving... all of it. That sounds much better. That, and quit moving. That sounds even better.