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.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

two C O R D S

We are ready for winter!

Using my limited German skills, I finally got up enough courage to talk to our village wood man. I was nervous last year as well.

He speaks no English.

This is good- it forces me to dig vocabulary out of my head.
I understand most of what he says. I know I miss a lot as well.
I dream in German for the next few days after being forced to speak it.
I need to speak it more.

Jim and I stacked it all in neat rows down in the basement. It's nice, dry wood that burns super hot.

Along with Christmas markets, it's the best part of our German winter.

We all love it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

a S L O W E R pace

It's been busy lately.

I think I might possibly have overused this short sentence in the last couple of years. As I look back on the last couple of months, we truly have been running all over the place.

It has been too busy.
I'm tired of busyness.

Caden has had soccer- that has been two nights each week.

Coleman has had swimming lessons one night and baseball one day each week.

Ty has had football every single night with games on Saturdays.

Even being seventeen, he doesn't drive which means picking him up every single day.

Jim is plugging along on his Master's Degree with two intense classes this semester.
They have required a lot of time. Too much time.

I've been the fall coordinator for our Imbiss {German word for our high school concession stand} which has been a big job on Saturday home games.

I started working three weeks ago as a substitute teacher at the elementary school.


As a captain's mom I was in charge planning and executing our huge end-of-the season football banquet.

I tried to delegate to the other moms, but for some reason, I still ended up taking on the bulk of it.

I did it for Ty and for no other reason.

The banquet was last night.

We had 214 guests.
It turned out really nice.

Twenty {20} seniors which means 20 senior gifts.
Seventeen {17} coaches and supporting staff gifts.


Coordinating the location/menu/time/publicity.

I'm exhausted.

One of the academic coaches who I adore came up to me and said I need to stick around next year to help. Then she joked that they could hire me as the party planner. I laughed.

NO way.
The tradition is for captains to get up, present gifts and give quick speeches.

Last year, Justin was among the shy boys who didn't want to talk. It was painful.

This year, Ty was maybe too comfortable in front of the crowd. He did a great job and had no problem talking.

He also got an academic award {which he should have} but, we're proud of him. 
Today, I'm very happy.

Soccer is over.
Football is over.
Imbiss volunteering is over.
Coleman will finish this session of swimming up in a couple weeks. We intentionally did not sign the little guys up for basketball so we could take the winter off.

One day of baseball- I can handle it.

I'm excited to cook more. I'm excited to have a hot fire in the fireplace ready when the boys come home from school and Jim comes home from work since we won't have to go anywhere.

I'm excited for a slower pace.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Super SIX link

It's pouring rain.
P o u r i n g.

It's also Super Six Saturday here in Germany with the European Championship football game tonight. Although Ty will be on the sidelines watching with his fractured clavicle, we will be in the stands cheering for our Royals.

Here's the link to watch live and see a little of Germany:

Game time is scheduled for 5pm here in Germany. Because we had our time change last weekend, we are now six hours ahead of Central Standard Time (Kansas time).

They never seem to run on time- I would expect it to be at least an hour late, maybe later.

Go Royals!

Friday, November 2, 2012


It's the busiest week of the fall for me. Tomorrow is the European Championship football game. Monday night is our banquet.

It's huge.

We have 208 confirmed guests.
That's a party. I better get back to work.

I might be back to blogging next week.