Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rüdesheim M A R K E T

Rüdesheim had its first documentary mention in 1074 according to Wikipedia.
I love these old villages.
Rüdesheim is absolutely beautiful. Nestled right along the river, it is another postcard-perfect setting.

Cobblestone streets.
Old buildings with drawings on the side.
After getting off the ferry, we quickly parked and headed out to walk around the market. Going with friends makes it so much more fun- the kids all get along. The parents all get along.

Over here, our friends are our family- we love them.
Fun times to get us through the holidays living so far away.

The food is always wonderful- the best reason to go in the first place.
Everyone is happy. It is a festive time in Germany.

For this one, we tried the brats {you can never go wrong with a German brat}, potato cakes {you can never go wrong with German potatoes}, fresh {hot} crepes, currywurst along with full mugs of hot cider and hot chocolate.

Here, you pay a deposit on the first mug you buy, then you can get it filled as you walk around. It's a nice way to keep warm. Everyone is spun up on sugar by the time we leave.

We made it out just as it started to sprinkle.
More great memories.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rudesheim a. R H I N E

It was a great day. We planned to go to a Christmas market with friends.
Just an hour away, we settled on Rudesheim.

About an hour away, it is a quaint city on the Rhine River.

When you choose to take the quickest route on the GPS, you never know where you're going to end up.
For this quick day trip, the best part of getting there was a surprise trip across the Rhine on the ferry.

As soon as we drove on the ramp, the barge took off to carry us across the river. How fun is that?

Oh, it was another fun day that could not have started out better.
Simple pleasures- that is what we are all about!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

B R A T W U R S T from our oma

I was taught a great lesson this week. I would like to think I knew how blessed we are.
As a family, we were reminded again of how rich we truly are.

It was Christmas eve, we had eaten dinner and were watching a movie as a family. Everyone was getting along {not always the case}.

The fire was hot. The tree was lit along with candles throughout our living room. Our bellies were full.

Everyone was content just spending time together.

Everyone was excited for Christmas morning.
The doorbell rang. It rang a few times. I assumed it had to be friends with a small child pushing the button over and over and over.

To our surprise, it was our Oma from across the street.

Her hands were full. Her heart was full as well.

She had candy for the boys, bratwurst for Jim and a flowering plant for me. She explained how to spread the bratwurst on bread or crackers. She thanked Jim and Caden over and over for shoveling her walkway after the last snow.

As she handed it to me she this Azelea {wrapped with foil on the bottom to hold the water from running out of the plastic planting pot}, said something I will never forget.

"Chai-LA {how she says Sheila} I don't know what to get you. You have everything."

Her eyes filled with tears and she started to cry.

She is a very lonley lady.
Her health is poor. She has very little.

To her, we do have everything. We are a family.
I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

chicks in the N E S T

Merry Christmas!
Christmas was different for us this year. At least, for me it has been different. Having experienced a lot of "new" this last four months with a kid in college {across the ocean}, I have a new perspective on things.

Far from having an empty nest, we still have reached a new stage in life.

It's nice to have all of our chicks back in the nest if only for just a couple of weeks. We have enjoyed every minute of our time together. Movies. Sleeping in. Naps. Food.

Nothing spectacular, just being in the nest together.
This mama hen is happy.

I've loved it.
We have all loved it.
Caden can't keep his hands off of Justin.

For today, it is more movies and more relaxing. More food, too. The down time is pretty much what we have all needed. I won't be taking it for granted.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

he's H O M E

And three weeks starts N O W.

He made it home without a hitch.

To have him text me from DC that he was eating chicken nuggets, french fries and a baconator was music to my ears.

A flight running early from Kansas City to DC, then to get out on time from DC to Frankfurt is how you're supposed to fly!

No mechanicals. No delays. No getting sick.

We are so excited to have him home.
So excited to relax and to play.

Caden woke up at 5:30 to go to the airport with us. Of course, they were both wearing shorts.

As soon as we got home, Justin took a shower. Caden quickly changed clothes to match his brother.  Notice the sandals. Notice the orange. Notice the white shorts. We just turn around and notice they match. He's always done this. It's all Caden.

Twins. Caden can't get his hands off him.

They're getting ready to play basketball now. We should all sleep well tonight.

Friday, December 14, 2012

H E L L O is it me you're looking for?

I don't think it would have mattered what city we were in or who we saw or if we even saw anyone in concert.

There is something magical about just being alone together.

We love our boys, but to be without kids for a whole twenty-four hours was fabulous.

No rush, no one to feed, no one cold or tired. It was so rejuvenating.

For us, an early anniversary evening since our anniverary is in January.

I couldn't stop smiling, I felt like a giddy eighth grader the whole night.

We really need to do it more often especially since the boys seemed to do just fine without us.

It was comforting having good friends {Ty's girlfriend and other close friends} in our village who were close for the boys to play with after school and fed them as well.

Ty let them stay up late, they all slept in our room and everyone was happy.

Plus, they made it to the bus in the morning. I told Ty if he overslept- he'd be stuck with the littles all day long.

You better believe he woke up to his alarm. He wasn't about to let that happen!

We thought these condiment containers at the arena were kind of cool. You know they put mayo on their fries over here, right?

I could have been anywhere with my amazing man and it wouldn't have mattered.

The fact that we got to see and listen to Lionel Richie for almost two hours was incredible.

His voice is amazing. His piano-playing ability always impressive and probably what I love most about him. That and the fact that has written and can sing some beautiful love songs.

It was the concert that you can sing along {and dance} to almost every song since we've all heard them about a thousand times. A little Commodores {Brick House}, a little dancing {Dancing on the Ceiling}, a lot of love...{Ballerina Girl, Endless Love sans Diana Ross, Say You, Say Me.... and on and on and on}.
Loved it. I'm still singing it a week later... {Deep River Woman was stuck in my head most of today...}. I'd see him again in a heartbeat. Jim did really, really well with this surprise.
Today is Justin's birthday. He's 19!
He gets to fly all day long with a ticket to Germany for his birthday!

Not a cool birthday, but I think we'll make it up to him.
We can hardly wait to get him home. He can hardly wait to get here.
Oh, it's going to be a fun break. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

C O L O G N E dom

We fell in love with Cologne.
What an amazing city. What a breathtaking Cathedral. How in the world did they build it?
The foundation stone of the Gothic Cathedral was laid on August 15, 1248. Work was put to a stop in 1473. They picked back up with the original plans in the 19th century and was completed in 1880.
The towers are approximately 515 feet tall.
We looked up the height of the St. Louis arch- it is 630 feet tall.
The Eiffel Tower is 1063 feet tall to put things into perspective. 
Look at the amazing organ pipes.
If only we could have heard them.
How loud would that be?
Christmas markets are a great time on their own. To go to this Christmas market in the Cathedral square made for an exciting couple of hours. The vendors are fun. The art is beautiful.
The dogs are everywhere well mannered walking on their leashes.
The food is really good. Here, we had yummy fried potato pancakes with the best {ever} applesauce. I could have eaten a whole bowl of that applesauce. We also had a delicious brat, of course and the best ever sauteed mushrooms in some kind of delicious cream sauce.

We had to try one of each.
Oh, so hot and yummy on a cold day! The best part of the whole afternoon was realizing that we STILL had Lionel to go see. I think I said that at least five times. Oh, he was good.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

twin B E D S and dogs

It was a magical twenty-four hours for us.

It is amazing what a quick escape can do for the spirit. Cologne, the Dom and Lionel Richie made for an absolutely unforgettable experience with my man.
We picked our hotel based on location and couldn't have been more happy with our selection.

It was perfect.

Just a four-minute walk {as long as you don't get lost} from the arena and a fiften-minute walk to Old Town and the Dom, we could not have had a more perfect location.

After two years Europe, we still find fun to notice the differences between Germany and the US.

We love it.

We love how clean it is here.

Somewhere between the top-of-the line four-star hotel and the youth hostel down the street, we found a cozy three-star hotel offered at a really great price.

We would go back in a heartbeat. It was clean. It was friendly. It was the typical German hotel with dogs and twin beds.

They must love their space.
Even booking a room for two, you get single beds. Full-size at best.

It didn't do me any good to add in the notes section while booking, "queen-size bed if possible would be appreciated."

Most we have slept in are connected with a nice wooden piece in between. Separate duvets, of course. Oh, and no sheets.

This time around we truly had single beds.
I was reminded each time during the night as I habitually tried to scoot closer to Jim.Each time, instead of any getting closer I felt the wheels turn as our metal-framed beds rolled further and further apart.

Dogs. Germans love their dogs. I don't think we have been to a hotel yet that did not have dogs. Big dogs, little dogs- it does not matter.

This was no exception. While in the lobby, we kept seeing them run around. Finally, the girl told us there were seven little guys total.

They just bop around while minding their own business.

We checked into our hotel early, parked the van and set off first to spend the afternoon at the Cathedral and the Christmas Market.

We have seen a few Cathedrals. None quite like this one.

Friday, December 7, 2012

H A P P Y birthday, G R A N D P A W

Today is my grandpaw's birthday- a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you!
Any guesses how old he is?

I'm going to tell- don't be mad at me...

He's a whopping 98 {ninety-eight} years old!

That's a lot of years old! Impressive isn't it?
Plus, he's still going strong.

You have just two years to go until that big 100th birthday party...
Start thinking now of what kind of cake you want. I told you I'll make it for you!
Oh, we're going to have a party.

Hope it is a fabulous day for you in sunny Yuma.
We'll enjoy the snow for you falling right now in beautiful Deutschland!

Love you-
Sheila, Jim and boys xo

Thursday, December 6, 2012

W O W lionel richie?

It's a checking-off-the-bucket-list week for us. After a really rough few weeks filled with a little stress and a lot of studying, Jim surprised me big time.

The managed to knock off three big things on our list of things to do {in our lifetime} all at once.

Tickets to see Lionel Richie live in concert.
In the beautiful city of Cologne (Köln), Germany.
While the Christmas Market is going on in Cologne.

We are leaving this morning for a get-away overnight to see Lionel Richie. He's definitely one of my top ten or even top-five artists. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE his music- always have.
Just 2 1/2 hours away, we are going to be in old town Cologne with a hotel right next door to the Arena and within a fifteen-minute walk of the Cathedral {Dom}. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

Pictures of the Dom are breathtaking, I can't wait to stand in front of it.

It's the fourth-largest city in Germany with the Cathedral definitely being the most popular landmark. The Rhine River goes through the city. Their Christmas Market is one of the largest and most recommended.

How romantic does it look at night?
And, we get to spend the night there.
I might not be able to sleep tonight.

Best of all, I get to spend it alone with my best friend. It really is wonderful being married to someone you can't get enough of and would spend every spare second of every day with {if I could}. I really, really love that man. {Not just because he got tickets, either...}

It's also kind of nice having a seventeen-year old to hang tight with the little guys. Ty says he's got it. It's just one night- I'm sure they'll be ok. Right?

I'll have my own pictures to post this weekend. For now, these are from Google.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

deciembre C A L E N D A R

Think someone is excited for his brother to come home?
I think we all are. Less than ten days to go...
Here's the close up on Coleman's December 14.
JD BDAY My brother Justin is coming home

Sunday, December 2, 2012

S C H N E E {snow}

Happy December!

I was just commenting that for me, it doesn't seem like Christmas without snow.

December seems to sneak up on me when the ground is still brown and the grass remains green. Pansies having recently been planted in our village really throws me off.

I'm not sure what I'll do if we ever get moved to San Diego or Texas where the sun is still shining.

That doesn't necessarily mean I miss the snow.

I just think that after living most of my life in a state that snow is a definite, I am programmed to associate snow and the holidays. It is pretty. I just prefer not to drive in it, or shovel it or scrape windows.
I'm happy for two little guys who are eager and excited to get out and shovel the {less than one inch} trace of snow we received last night.

I'm sure it would be a different story if we were in Alaska and shoveling was a chore.
A really different story.
It's never a question of if it is going to snow in Alaska, but how much snow are we going to get.

In Kansas and here in Germany, there are winters where there is snow and others {last year for us} that not a flake falls. It's a dark yet mild winter in Deutschland.

Rain just doesn't trigger the thought that I better get out and start shopping or baking.
Maybe now, I'll get into the holiday spirit.
This is the view we woke up to this morning.
These scenic pictures were not changed to black and white. At 9:00am, my camera on auto needed the flash to get enough light. If you look closely, you can see the brown or the green on the fir.

It is the grey of Germany.

The grey of winter.

Happy December!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

a little R A C Q U E T B A L L ?

Jim has been studying like crazy.
He tests for his job next week.
We are also at the end of two very difficult classes.

Throw a little work in there and it hasn't been too much fun around our house.

We can't wait until it is over.

We're ready to play.
We're ready to travel.

We're really ready for Justin to come home so we can hit some Christmas markets.

Last weekend, we took Coleman and Caden to the gym for a little racquetball. They loved it and woke up begging to play every morning of their long weekend. Three days in a row and they still didn't get enough.
So much fun. We even wore the goggles. Aren't we cute? It's all about the memories.

Monday, November 26, 2012

our T H A N K S G I V I N G weekend

I had a little bit of a technical glitch hence my delay in posting.

While adding the below post this last weekend, I was told I had exceeded my photo limit. Imagine that. It's taken me a couple days to figure out what to do. Actually, I've been a little lost.

I almost bought more storage, then realized that they allow an unlimited number of photos as long as they are below a certain size. Whew. I can do that. Guess I better start paying attention to how big my photos are. For now, I will continue blogging.

Hopefully, they don't have a word limit. It wouldn't surprise me if I hit that maximum allowance next if they do. Yikes- that could cost big bucks.

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend {late}!

As much as we were missing Justin, it was a very nice Thanksgiving here in Germany.

As hard as it was for this first holiday without him, it was comforting to know he was with friends being well taken care for and fed a wonderful meal.

Ywo years ago, we were sneaking on base with our small car to eat Thanksgiving in the chow hall. As hard as we tried to keep our heads up, it was tough. Definitely not the Thanksgiving to remember.

This year, we shared the day and meal with our good friends Randy, Michelle and their son {a junior in high school} Ryan.

It was a calm, quiet day- exactly what we planned and needed.
Check out Michelle's beautiful Polish Pottery. I'm thinking we need to make a quick shopping trip to Poland. I'm loving it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

T W O years in GERMANY

Today marks the day we arrived in Germany- two years ago. If all goes as planned with our four-year assignment, we are at our half-way mark.

So much has changed but mostly our love for this country.

We knew we were in for an adventure, we just weren't sure what that would entail. We heard about people who would extend over here and others who didn't want to go back to the United States.

While we will be ready when our time comes to get back, I actually finally understand what they are feeling. Someone emailed me before we moved and said, "What's not to love about Germany."
Those words rang through my mind especially during the first six months we were here. I thought she was crazy. I can now honestly agree with her. Germany is wonderful.

This is a beautiful country.
The German people are wonderful.
We love the German food.

Here's what remains on the top tier of our list while living in Europe:
Edinburgh, Scotland
Dublin, Ireland
Rome, Italy
Amsterdam, Holland
Berlin, Germany
Normandy, France

We have a lot more to learn and so many places to go. Our goal is to check as much as we can off our list- we'll see how we do!

Come visit us- we would love to take you around!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

C O C H E M castle

I love castles. My boys might not be as enthusiastic as their mama when it comes to castles, but I think I might have to get them to a few more.

Anyone and everyone who comes to visit, I have no problem taking you to a few of our favorites!

With our last couple days with Neal and Cheryl, we made a day trip to Cochem Castle and another to Trier.

Unfortunately, Jim was back at work, so we waited until the kids left for school and headed out on our day trip.

While we have been to Trier, I had not been to Cochem. It did not disappoint- we loved it.
The drive was supposed to be an hour or so. With the crazy GPS leading us, it ended up being closer to two hours.

A downpour on the way home made it that much more exciting.
Cochem is an astounding little city on the Moselle River.
The 1,000-year old castle is amazing. The view and city were even more impressive to me. In the heart of wine country, the vines were full and grapes were beautiful.

Walking around, it all felt postcard-perfect for pictures. The thought continually ran through my head of how absolutely beautiful it was in this region.  
We took the castle tour with a cute lady armed with a great sense of humor. It was one of the best tours I've taken in the few castles we have been to. Delightful!

On our walk back down to the car, we ducked out of the rain in a little cafe for a bowl of German goulasch soup.
I'm not a soup lover, but it was absolutely delicious. Don't forget the bread. Yum.

I'm ready to go back!

Friday, November 16, 2012

H I T S C H E R H O F farm festival

Germans love their fests.
We love German fests.
It seems if there is  an excuse to have a fest or celebration- they're on it! They know how to work hard, but they also know how to celebrate.

There are onion fests, chocolate fests, chestnut fests, chicken fests and any other variety you can imagine.

Finishing up our time with Uncle Neal and Aunt Cheryl here in September, we found a great farmer's pumpkin festival and decided to give it a try. 

What a fun day- definitely worth the forty-five minute trip and definitely worth going back next year!

Up in the hills in farm country of course, the drive was scenic- beautiful Germany.
Booths lined the farmer's area with craft and food vendors. It was a mini fair without all of the craziness that a fair attracts.

We tried the pumpkin bratwurst on white brotchen- a new variety of brat that was super good.

We also had to try the fried goat cheese on toast. It was delicious- how can you not love goat's cheese. Heavenly.

Close to the entrance was a man with antiques. We looked at a few items and decided to check back on our way out.

Jim found this kraut pot and immediately liked it.

It's common to find the light grey stoneware, but this was the first dark brown variety we have seen. By the time we were leaving, I was convinced we needed to get it.

Better yet, the old man was originally selling the big pot for 18 Euro {about $24} but offered us two pots {40 liter and a matching 30 liter} for just 20 Euro, just over $25 for both.

What a deal.

My favorite part of the transaction was talking to the man and listening as he explained how his mother used to make sauerkraut, putting the cabbage and salt in the big pot, then pushing it down with stones on top to hold it down.

So cool.

For us, they are the perfect containers to hold wood next to our fireplace.

I love how they are worn.
I love how they are stamped with the size on the side.

I love how now they are a forever reminder of our time in Germany.
Super heavy.
Very German.
I love them.

Even better, the man wrote down his name and address to visit him at home to see what other treasures he has in his garage.

Oh, it's a day trip in the making.
How do you pass an offer like that up?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy V E T E R A N S day

I am always reminded of what it really means being a military family when I go up to Landstuhl Hospital- the largest military hospital outside of the United States.

We have a small clinic here on Ramstein, but for specialty care and the ER we go up to the Army base fifteen minutes away.

With a couple appointments and a couple trips to the ER this month, I've spent a little time at Landstuhl.

It's a huge hospital. I've written about it before. I'm writing about it again.

Last week while leaving out the ER exit, the stretchers were lined up outside with medical staff eagerly awaiting the arrival of yet another bus load of wounded warriors. It's not unusual to see them lined up.
It is however difficult every single time being reminded of what is about to arrive straight from the war.

Germany specifically Landstuhl is the first stop for wounded soldiers coming from Iraq and Afghanistan. We see these wounded warriors on a routine basis.

There is nothing like being in the military.

Growing up with a dad who served first in the Army, then in the Air National Guard for years and years and years until he retired- I was exposed to the military. I am grateful for his service. Thanks, dad.

Marrying a man who chose a career in the Air Force, I now have a better understanding of what military service really means.
I am sure there are many who don't understand how important our military is and how hard our veterans work. Until the last few years, I had no idea.

I am sure there are those who might not agree with military members being able to retire after twenty years of service, or think the pay and benefits are possibly too high.

Those same people might also not understand there is no overtime pay in the military. Ever.
As members in the Air Force, the military owns you and can call you to work twenty-four hours a day.

When situations of conflict arise around the world, this happens. It doesn't matter if you have a vacation planned, or time off lined up.
If you are needed, you work.

Deployments are a way of life for many in the military. Due to the jobs that Jim has had- we have not experienced them.

Many families we know are without their husbands and fathers, or wives and mothers for usually a minimum of four months.

Many deployments are a year long. Army deployments are even longer. Those in the military die every single day serving our country.

This week, I taught in a kindergarten class with a little boy with not only his father deployed but his mother deployed as well. He's not the only one. For many, many military children- this is normal.

I don't think there is another job in the world that takes you involuntarily away from your family for months or even a year at a time.
Military members move a lot. Usually every three to four years. I am learning this is not only difficult, but has also been a blessing in our life.

Yes, Jim chose the military life for our family. We are blessed as a family and it has provided well. I hope it has provided our boys with a broader understanding and appreciation for our veterans as well.

It has also given me not only a greater understanding but a whole new appreciation for those who had and those who continue to serve us. Thank you honey, for your service.

Happy Veteran's Day.