Saturday, June 30, 2012

barefoot P A R K

We're trying to see Germany.
I know summer is going to cruise by. It already is going way too fast. The list of things I want to do is huge.

I'm not sure we'll ever get to check off even the things in our own backyard.

I can try at least.

For this day trip, we went to the Barefoot Park with the Seebeck girls {Josie's family} and Ty's girlfriend, Chantelle DuBois.

This 3.5 km barefoot walk along the river Nahe was the first one in Germany. It was our first visit there.

What a delightful day! Memories indeed.
In spite of all the walking involved- no one fought, no one complained and everyone had a blast.

It was definitely a hit and worth the one-hour drive through the winding German countryside to get there.

True to all things German, it is a simple park in a beautiful setting. It's almost like a reflexology obstacle course- with all focus on the feet and balance.

There are different textures along the way- mud, water, sand, rocks, bark, grass.

Along the way, there are balance beams, bridges and other contraptions to maneuver through.

All barefoot.

The trail makes a huge circle with a river running through the center.
they're truly a little Josie & a little Justin... so sweet

as long as the mud doesn't touch his hands... he's ok!
At the end of the course, there is an opening with a shoreline accessible to wash off in. Of course, Dickey boys don't just wash off- they swim.

It doesn't matter how cold it is.
Justin challenged everyone to do a push-up. He was the first to go in.
Of course, Caden followed right behind and took the next plunge without hesitation. Have I ever mentioned how exciting life is with boys? Never boring!
Without question, the other boys dropped down and went under. It took the girls a few minutes to catch the spirit {and give into the pressure}.
Justin and Caden are known in our family as being the nags- they won't let up until they get their way. By the time we left, everyone was wet {except for myself} from from head to toe.
All of them laughing the whole time- a mom's dream. Success.

The whole day.
By the end, my feet were sore and ready for my flip flops. A couple days later, the boys were already ready to go back.

We might just have to hit it again before summer is over.

So much fun.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

graduation and F A R E W E L L S

It's been an emotional couple of weeks. Having your first child graduate from high school is tough enough. Living here knowing I'm sending him to college in less than a month is even harder. As if that's not enough, we're also dealing with farewells and see-you-laters.
On the large screen as they walked in... Justin's was a little tall for their camera
Living in Germany adds to the intensity and emotions we are going through. Graduation was beautiful. It was held at the FCK soccer stadium in Kaiserslautern- a beautiful arena.

The kids were told there is a huge fine for even walking on the perfectly-manicured field. The setting was amazing.

There were a couple clouds in the sky and  a slight breeze making for perfect conditions. We couldn't have asked for better weather.

Being a military school, our families are from all over the states. The stage was lined with flags from the fifty states- something you don't ever see at a graduation.

The presentation of the colors and flag was precise and perfect. The band also did a phenomenal job.

The ceremony was streamed live online which was another cool thing for our families all over the world to watch.

Technology is amazing.

I still can't believe I was texting with my parents in Utah, my sister in Colorado and our cousins/Granny/Jim's dad in Illinois all at the same time as we were sitting in the stadium and they were watching at the same time online.

It helped us feel just a little closer for a major life event that we wanted to share- for that I'm grateful.

I continue to be amazed at how dynamic these kids in Justin's closest circle of friends are. They're brilliant, athletic, driven, fun, focused, grounded and are bound to accomplish great things.

I'm also learning that graduating from an American high school overseas is a completely different experience than being in the states.
What these kids are going through right now has been unbelievably tough and is going to get tougher before it gets any easier.

In the military, assignments are usually three, maybe four years in one location. For most of these kids, they're used to the moving- it's a way of life for a military brat.

Once kids get to high school, parents try to time it so they can graduate a kid without moving them in the end- if they can help it.

That being said, very few of Justin's friends spent all four years at Ramstein- it's rare for any of them to spend all of their high school years at the same school.

Now that graduation has happened, it's time for the bulk of these families to move on. Their time in Germany is up.
The goodbyes have already started and they've been tough- not only for the kids but for the moms as well.

I've been lucky enough to become close friends with some amazing women. I'm going to miss them dearly.

It feels like we just had to do this leaving Kansas. The emotions are surfacing again and it's just as difficult.

Without family here in Germany- our friends have become our family.

We've bonded in a way that I think only happens living overseas. I've never become so close to my friends as quickly as I have here. They are definitely friends for life- they're family.

I think the most difficult part of living here is that these seniors don't know when they'll see each other again. Where will they have their five, ten or twenty-year class reunions?

In Mulvane, or any other small-town, non-military school- most pick schools in Kansas. They know they'll see each other over Christmas break, or summer.

For this graduating class, they have selected colleges all over the United States. Central Michigan, Arizona, Westpoint, Virginia, Clemson, Trinity near Chicago, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, and of course Justin is headed for Kansas.

Not only are they spread all over the states, their families are as well relocating to Colorado, Illinois and a few families to both Texas and Washington DC.

While our paths will hopefully cross again, it doesn't make the good-byes and hugs and holding these kids any easier right now.

As sad as I am to see so many leave, I'm just as grateful for my good friends that are staying.

I'm also reminded to make the most of our time here and focus the experiences that create those memories we'll look back on.

Europe is amazing. Castles are pretty cool, but I'm pretty sure the meaningful relationships we've made while here in Germany are what we're going to miss the most once our time is up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

H E did it

Graduation was beautiful. We couldn't be more proud. Details to come. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

lots of G E R A N I U M S

I think Bavaria and this part of Germany is what you see in the movies and how I pictured Germany in my head before moving here. 
Calligraphy script writing on the side of houses and buildings.
Men in lederhosen with Bavarian-style hats.
Windowboxes with geraniums overflowing.

I love it all.

Friday, June 8, 2012

all about J U S T I N

It's Justin's day.
Graduation is finally here.
The weather looks a little blustery, but we're hopeful that the rain will hold back and the sun will shine!

My post earlier in the week is now buried.

For those who might be interested or able to watch online- here is the information again to watch graduation live from the comfort of your couch!

It is amazing how far technology has come.

It definitely makes it easier at big times like this for us living in Germany to feel a little connected to home.

The Web site is:

Login: 2012grads
Password: lucky2012
** click on photo to enlarge

Thursday, June 7, 2012

a little W H I T E church

Staying off the beaten path, we checked off another landmark in our book with a visit to a sight simply called the white church along a section of Germany referred to as The Romantic Road.

Winding through the landscape, it's not intended for those who easily get carsick! A trade route during the middle ages, Germany's Romantic Road still retains much of its medieval character.
** click on collage to enlarge
It is however really beautiful making it so worth the drive.
In church? What is this?
A perfect Sunday afternoon drive- that's what I kept telling the boys.
This small church was built in 1745- so it's pretty old. We walked inside. The boys sat in the pews and looked around.

The detail is amazing. The woodwork is gorgeous.

They were as excited to see the horses out in the front yard.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

F F T aka forced family time

Regardless of what we see and where we go while living here in Europe, I think the Bavarian region of Germany will remain near the top of the list one of our favorite spots forever.

It's an amazing place with so much to see and do.

We love it down there.

With the track meet taking up half of our long weekend, we decided to go straight from Wiesbaden down to Garmisch for a quick break to finish up the Memorial Day weekend.

A quick four-and-a-half-hour drive was well worth it for a quick escape from real life and some {FFT} forced family time- a description my dear friend shared that accurately describes these sight-seeing trips filled with an abundance of family closeness.

For our first night, they were sold out of hotel rooms, but had a rustic cabin available.

The boys were thrilled and didn't want to go to the hotel for our second night.
Perfect for our family, it slept six with a loft area up top for the littles, a bunk bed and full-size bed for Jim & I.

There is a community bathhouse with sinks, washers/dryers, showers and bathrooms for everyone in the camp ground to share.

We just spent the evening at the hotel in the pool and hot tub, showering there for the night. It was the best of both worlds.

All four boys ended up in the loft, laughing and figuring out sleeping arrangements. Everyone getting along is a parent's dream.

With electricity and clean sheets, it was perfect for a night's stay- especially after a long weekend in the hot sun.

In true European style, our bed was made with a bottom sheet and two perfectly-folded duvets. His and hers- that's how they do it here.

It was just what we needed as a family and also a reminder that we need to go camping. Real camping with hot dogs, a fire and s'mores.

It's been way too long.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

L I N D E R H O F palace

En route to Garmisch, we put together a quick itinerary to hit a few new spots in the region on Sunday. First up was Linderhof Palace- another new favorite spot a little off the popular path.
I have a friend who raved about this castle, but I hadn't yet researched it so I didn't know what to expect. Super close to Garmisch, it was first our first stop and definitely did not disappoint.
We decided to take the tour and were thrilled not only that the tour was in English, but that kids up to age 18 were free: a huge bonus. What a deal!
The walk up to most castles can take a while. They're up high. As I bought tickets for the tour, the lady told me it started in 20 minutes.
I looked at her {with big eyes, I'm sure} and asked if that was enough time to get there. She just laughed as she told me it was only a five-minute walk.

This is definitely one of the easiest to get to. We were even early and had to wait for the cue line to open and take our ticket.

The smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, it was his favorite and the only one which he lived to see completed. He spent most of his time here. He also built Neuschwanstein- the most popular of the three.

Our tour guide was wonderful as we walked through and she pointed out simple facts and gave us a huge look into the personality and reign of Ludwig II. Both the interior {we were asked not to take pictures inside} and the exterior were beautiful.

The gardens and the fountains around the outside made for a beautiful view.

He was appointed King in 1864 at the age of 18. Of course, we laughed thinking that he was Justin's age.

He lived most of his solitary life here with very few guests invited to his house.

We've said more than once how nice it is to be past the baby-stage of our lives as we see these amazing places.

Coleman and Caden listened to every word of the tour as we walked from room to room through the palace.

It's nice not only that we can take them just about anywhere, but also that they're old enough to hopefully remember our travels as they grow older.
The dining room was very intersting as he had a magic table.

nice self portrait.... think he's watched his mama?
With his dining room table on a lift- he {or his servants} would lower it to the lower level where the servants would set it with his meal, then raise it back up to the second level where he would eat in peace.

He wouldn't even be bothered with servants setting his table or serving him as he chose to eat in complete isolation.

In a living space covered from top to bottom in gold {there is one silver room, the rest in gold}, he was so wealthy as all kings are, but at the same time so I can't image how lonley he was.

Near the end of his life, he was declared insane then shortly after died. I think this is a prime example of the simple truth that money can't buy happiness.