Saturday, March 31, 2012

all DoDD jersey

Justin was finally awarded his All-DoD jersery this week. sent their PR guy, Dr. Randy Plunkett around the world to present the jerseys.

He talked to Justin a little bit about coachability and how important it is in all facets of life to be coachable.

It was a quick presentation with a certificate and his jersey, but nice.

His coach, principal and a few teammates were there to watch.

It's pretty cool for him to be noticed as one of the best in the world in military schools. We can't wait to see where the next level takes him.

Needless to say, we're pretty proud parents.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Caden aka C O N A N

When Jim yells down to me to get the camera- I know it has to be something funny. I'm pretty much the only one in this house who takes pictures. Yep, it was funny.
Caden has always liked dressing up. We tend to get our money out of Halloween costumes since he wears them for an entire year.
This month, Jim bought the super old movie Conan with Arnold S. He says he bought it for the boys. I think it was really for him.

Caden LOVES it. Of course, he has to dress the part- he IS Conan. Usually, he has his belt/sword thing on too.

It's still funny to us every single time he comes out of his room as Conan. The kid's not lacking in the imagination department- that's for sure!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

H A L T , he's eight

I think we have a new rule in our house. Birthday parties with friends every O T H E R year.

We decided to let Coleman have his birthday party at home this year and it was pure craziness!

All he wanted was a pizza party at home with movies and his friends.

It was a beautiful evening weather wise outside and nearly impossible to get so many kids to sit and watch a movie.

Oh well, it's over! He's EIGHT!

I took {red velvet} cupcakes to his classroom, which was great. Fun to hear them sing Happy Birthday to him in German. Below is a quick clip at the end of their singing.
They're asking him: are you one, are you two, are you three... and he has to stop them, or yell halt- in German. I think the quick sound byte of his teacher at the end is funny. He's the typical, no-nonsense German Herr.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Caden's eye P O K E

I love home videos. It's been high on my list to organize ours and get them on DVD so we can enjoy them. I'll keep shooting- one day, we might have them all together in one place.

This is a quick clip from Caden's kindergarten performance last week. Along with his dad and Justin- being up on stage is no his thing. He's our shy boy, but he did pretty good.

We think he's our little guy until we see him around kids at school- then we realize maybe, he's a little taller than we think after all.

If you can hang on to the end- he pokes his eye. It's about 2:30 into the clip.

For some reason, we thought it was so funny. Of course, the camera is shaking as I try not to laugh. Not good being a kid who hates to be laughed at. So, we've had to keep the giggles to ourselves.

We count ourselves very fortunate- his teachers are FABULOUS this year. What a great start in school.

the F R I E D H O F

Just as there is a Main Street in every US town, there are specific streets here that you find in every single village.

The Hauptstrasse is the main street through every village. Haupt is literally translated as head. Wald means forest- so that street is up by the woods.
There is usually the Schulstrasse- or the street where the school is located. The big B- looking letter actually makes the sound of "ss". We're lucky enough in our village to have a Marktstrasse- or the street where you'll find our little market. Easy enough, right?
This country isn't complicated, is it?
Well, we live on Friedhofstrasse. The Friedhof is the cemetary, found just up from our house.
My mom really enjoys cemetaries- always has. I won't say I love them and I definitely don't hate them. I just haven't spent much time in them.

Before winter hit, our adopted Oma across the street was just coming back from the Friedhof.

She let me know her parents were buried there.

Of course they were.

Families don't move here like they do in much of the United States. She lives in the same house they did.

Tears fell down her cheeks while talking to me about her parents. In her mixed German and English, sometimes it is hard to understand all of what she's saying. I get the bulk of it.

I asked her if I could go up with her so she could show me around the cemetary. She said once it was Spring, we would go.

While walking this week, I took a little more time to look over the fence {dogs aren't allowed in and I had Ladybug} catching my curiosity.

Some dates are recent. I'm sure others are super old. The names- so German. Duh.
I love these planter/stones that are common here. A built-in pot for planting, or some have a cut-out space for plants and flowers to be planted. They're mini gardens. I've never seen anything like it before.

Then again, I haven't been through that many cemetaries.
How practical. Beautiful. It's that recurring simple-beauty theme that continues to show itself almost daily.

So many already had fresh flowers already planted. Without question- they're spotless, cleaner even than my kitchen floor. Not a spot. How do they do it? I really need to learn.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

german B L O O D

In the back of my mind, I've always known there is a lot of German in my blood. 

It never seemed to be much of a positive attribute. In fact, I think I always took it in a negative way.

Until living here, I'm not sure I even knew anything positive about Germans- the society as a whole.

I don't know what percentage of my being is German, or even how high up the ancestors are on the family tree.

I never really knew what that meant not did I have much interest in studying family history to learn more or dig deeper.

For some reason, I'm starting to feel a real connection to Germany and the Germans like I never thought I would feel.

For the first time in {probably} my whole life, I really want to know more about my relatives my from Germany. I want to know villages or cities they lived in. I want to know names. I want to know their stories. I want to visit the places they lived so many years ago.

This week, I've been feeling a connection not only to Germans, but to my Grandpa Alexander who died when I was in middle school.

From early-childhood memories of my grandpa, I'd guess he was about 99% German- that might be a conservative guess, haha.

From my young eyes- he was practical, routine and even a bit gruff.

The practical and simple nature of this country is one of the things that I like the most. I'm drawn to it.

On a walk this week, I came across this bench. They're all over- this little bench definitely isn't unique to the woods of Germany.

Practical? Definitely. No fancy design or materials were used.

It also looked like something that my grandpa would throw up with a spare log and a couple of bolts. Yep, we're German.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

walking with a W A L K E R

It's finally Spring- my favorite time of the year. As I've been following the Iditarod {several times daily} I'm so happy to not be buried in snow. In fact, we didn't lift a shovel all year. One super light snow {shown in the photo below} is about all the snow we received.

Lady and I set out on a walk this morning to enjoy the sun and check out our village. Today is definitely our warmest day yet- a beautiful time to be in Germany.

I like to walk in the woods or on the trails around our village. Today, I decided to walk closer to home- down the streets of our neighborhood.
I would love to have an established routine {story of my life, haha} and get those in our village to know and recognize us.

While they walk all winter regardless of the weather, I've been inside since about October- perhaps even September.

It's no secret- I don't do cold too well.

The day {last month} I took the picture of this lady with her walker it was about five {5} degrees F outside. Ice, cold or snow- they don't let it stop them. They are the real deal here and have earned my upmost respect.

Now, that the temperatures have risen, I think walking in their steps {literally} is perhaps the best way to meet my German neighbors- specifically my elderly German neighbors. I'm taking this approach especially considering I still haven't taken the German class that remains on my to-do list.

Today was a good start.

Our village is so peaceful- especially mid-morning. I received several Guten Morgens from several grandpas- something I now love to hear.

Friday, March 16, 2012

out of the mouth of C O L E M A N

Two years ago, we were tilling up dirt to put in our Kansas garden. Last year, we were still trying to figure out how the phone and garbage systems work over here in Deutschland.

I think we've turned a corner. A huge corner.

Last week one night at dinner, our little blonde boy said something I'm not sure I ever expected to hear.

With a huge smile on his face, our sweet Coleman asked, "Can we live in Germany forever?"

Wow, we've come a long way.

Friday, March 9, 2012

f a s h i n g

I'm a little slow to post these. The real festival was a couple weeks ago.

In Germany, Fashing starts on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Just before the start of Lent, Fashing ends with all of Germany celebrating to ward off the evil spirits of winter and start Spring.

We checked out a local parade the next village over with friends. Much milder and more family friendly than some around the country- it was still quite entertaining.

They close the streets in the village down at noon so they can let the carnival begin.

Ramstein has it as a scheduled day off for the kids. There's no way busses would make it through town.

It's all craziness- these Germans like to throw a party!

As the groups in the parade go by, they throw candy to the kids. Some groups sing and dance. Others chanted whatever they were chanting. Haaaaaaaaaaaaa LOOOOOOOOOOOO. So funny.

Everyone dresses up {not just those in the parade... but everyone on the streets} including the elderly- so much fun. Next year, I might have to get into costume.
Ty and Drake had a good time... their hats fit right in. I've been trying to get anyone to wear them for the last 10 years {since Justin and Ty were little}. Finally, some use!
About an hour into the parade, Caden looked up at me and said, "Is this party almost over?" There were just too many people and way too much noise for my little guy.

Hmmm... maybe he's just a little like his brother {Justin} and his daddy. I thought it was fun.
By the way... the red hair isn't part of any costume... that's your every-day, typical German hairstyle. Doesn't Caden look thrilled?


Monday, March 5, 2012

so many K I D S

Talking to my mom this afternoon, she said I was sounding a little European. I laughed. I guess living here for what, around 500 days now, I guess at the least I should sound a little German.

I was super excited to find a vacation apartment for rent that included sheets and towels.

Crazy, I know. That's just how it is here!

Spring Break is a big thing here.
We are, of course living in Europe with so many destinations SO close.

How can you not get out and travel? Knowing we wouldn't be making the family trip to the Canary Islands {$7000 USD quote} or a nice cruise around Greece {around $1000 USD per person} there are still a zillion options and I refuse to stay home for that entire week in April!

We're ready to go!

The search has been on. With so many destinations high on my list of places to see, I asked Justin where he would like most to go since he is the first to return to the US and will miss out on our European travels.

His response, "Wherever we go, I think it will be fun."
How can a mom wish for any more than that? I'm telling you- boys are kind of wonderful.

So, along with a friend- we've been scouring all of Germany for hotels in an attempt to finalize plans for Spring Break for our two families to spend together.

Europe is crazy and difficult.

Finding hotels for a family of six- almost impossible. I just laugh looking at them. It's as if we have a ton of kids- most places have their largest room available for 2 kids. Such a different culture.

My friend and I narrowed it down to either Amsterdam or the Black Forest- searching both areas for lodging. I found this hotel in the Black Forest for about $510 for two nights, but that's for only 3 people. Check out the extras:

All children from 4 to 12 years are charged EUR 5 per night per person for extra beds.
One older child or adult is charged EUR 15 per night and person in an extra bed.
Maximum capacity of extra beds in a room is 4.

Crazy... that would be maybe $300+ a night.

So, a popular option for those of us with more than one kid is to rent an apartment. Lots of options and the prices are much lower. I'm almost settled on one, but look at a few of the other options I found:

Here's a response I got from one in Strassbourg, France... {direct quote, no joke}

Thanks for your message; The flat is available for the dates you choose, but it will be a little "just" for so many people ! How old are the children ? There are only 3 sleeping-rooms and a living where it is possible to sleep...Please give me exactly the number of nights you will stay and I make you an offer.
Best regards

Nope, we're not going there.

Here's another one closer to Cologne. Nothing fancy, either. I was shocked at their prices- not the base price, but check out all of the extras. They're no joke here.  

Hi Sheila,
No problem. House is still available from Easter Sunday (8 April) until 12 April.
And the house has got 5 bedrooms. So no problem to accommodate 5 adults and 5 children.Rental price is 75 Euro for 2 adults together/night and 25 Euro per extra adult/night and 15 Euro/night for every child. So in total for 4 nights it will be 900 Euro. {that's about $1200 USD for 4 nights- $300/night}
Please take into account that on top of the rental fee we do charge a fee for bedding, towels and cleaning of 10 Euro per person independent of duration of stay. Of course, the house has to be left in the same condition and "broom clean" (ie. reasonably clean and tidy, as if swept out with a broom), but still the place has to be prepared for the next guests, bed sheets and towels will have to be exchanged etc. That is the reason for charging that fee.
We also ask for a deposit of 100 Euro to cover any potential damages and consumption of water, gas and electricity. The remainder will of course be refunded. The cost of the consumption of water, electricity and gas (for heating) can be exactly calculated and checked anytime, thanks to the meters installed. It is 1.6050 Euro per m3 water, 0.2444 Euro per kWh for electricity (power) and 0.06128 Euro per kWh (1m3=9.94465 kWh) for gas.
Best regards,

As I responded to Herr Eckart and let him know this wouldn't work for us, he wrote back:
Thanks for your quick response. I am sorry that it is too expensive for you, but a whole house with 5 bedrooms and a garden in a good location has got its price. I do hope you will find something suitable for your needs.
Best regards,
Eckart Bierduempel
At least he was nice. Don't get me wrong. $300 a night is fine if you're getting a nice, high-end Hyatt or Hilton hotel.These are just plain, ole' apartments.
My search is on...

Friday, March 2, 2012

a S O R E leg

It's been a long week for all of us, but at least there was NO basketball!
Jim had a double dose of school with a course during the days {for work} and a one-week intensive course {University of Oklahoma} at night as he's plugging away at his Master's degree.

With a pre-course writing assignment {12-14 pages long}, class every week night from 6-9:30 and all day Saturday and Sunday from 8-4:30 with quizzes included, then a post-course writing assignment- he's been working!

To make matters worse, the title of this course {that he registered for on his own} is "Democracy and Democracies," a subject that doesn't interest either of us.

We had another one of those deep spouse-to-spouse chats {that we often have} this week about making decisions without the other's input.

This is one of those times, and I think the lesson was learned.

Jim know that if he wants help writing... I have to be interested in the subject matter!

We are in the midst of changing his major from International Relations to Human Relations and I  picked out his next course- Helping Relationships. Sounds much more interesting, don't you agree?

Lady also had a rough week as she had surgery yesterday to remove a mast on her leg. She's fine, but hobbling around a bit.

The little guys can't understand why she had to be shaven and why she has staples in her. I think the little patch of hair they shaved on her front leg for her iv is kinda sweet.

Poor baby.

She had the plastic collar thing off in about 10 seconds flat. so we've had to monitor her extra closely to make sure she doesn't lick or mess with her site. Boxers are known for not only their escape tactics and being smart but also for being extremely stubborn. She fits all three.

For now, we'll pamper her a little. She still loves her fireplace.
{As if she's not spoiled a little as it is...}

Up this weekend: relaxing with the boys. Is that possible?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

home or G U E S T S ?

Where did he come from?

Caden loves to wear the same color as the basketball team. He knows white is for home games and navy is for away games.

Saturday, for Justin's game he asked the familiar question, "Are we home or guests?" It was a tournament, so of course- I didn't know which really irritates him.
It wasn't until we got to the game that I realized rather than take a risk- he wore both.

Navy shorts and his t-shirt with his whites over the top. As soon as he realized Ramstein was guests, rather than strip off his whites- he had to go to the bathroom to change.

Funny, funny, kid.