Sunday, January 27, 2013

love of the P I A N O

While looking through pictures, I found so many surprises and reminders of happy times.
Look at this little gem that I was so pleased to come across.

Ty and his uncle Seth both have a love for the piano.

In this picture, Ty was probably bugging Seth as he was working on a song. They are both a little persistent. Looks like Seth might have given in and let Ty up on the bench back then. I think it is so sweet.
Seth can pretty much sit down anytime at any piano and impress anyone within hearing range with his amazing talent and ability. He never uses sheet music and has the most beautiful ballads at the tips of his fingers ready to play for anyone lucky enough to listen. He is beyond amazing.

Ty took piano in elementary school and decided he didn't like it, so I let him stop after just a year of lessons.

He started up asking to get back into it in middle school. After several attempts at finding a teacher, I unfortunately let the ball drop.

Now that he is a senior, he was able to sign up for piano as one of his electives. He even just spent his money on a new keyboard as well so he can play and practice at home. Figures for the first time we don't have a piano in the house- he is taking lessons.

It is definitely in his blood. I'm happy to see him so excited. I really hope he will keep going with it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

no C O N F E R E N C E

We received really good news this week.

Due to budget cuts, Jim's conference in Oklahoma has been cancelled. He is finishing up his course in Texas this week and gets to come home this weekend. I could not be more happy.

We have survived.

We only had cereal for dinner twice.
We managed to get trash out both Tuesdays.
We even checked the post office for mail twice.
We had melt-downs and we were sad, but we made it.

In my spare time, I worked to organize a little in an attempt to pass the time {mostly the weekends}while Jim was gone.
We bought these four frames {from Costco} at least five years ago. I loved them and couldn't wait to get the boys pictures in them. Last year, I finally got them up on the wall. The only problem being they didn't have pictures in them. 

This week, I went through all of my pictures and found every single school picture.
It was so much fun to look through the years and see how much they have grown up.

One of these days, I will get them all scanned and really organized.

For now, I will enjoy our newly-filled frames up on the wall.
As quickly as these years have gone by, I am reminding myself that Coleman and Caden will have theirs filled up in the blink of an eye.

I'm sure before we know it, I will be adding their senior pictures, to finish off each frame.

This last couple of weeks could have moved a little quicker.
Most of the time, I'm wishing things would slow down.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

to G R A N N Y ' S house they go

It's a road-trip-kind-of weekend.

Not for us in Europe this weekend, but for Jim and Justin in the states.

With a long three-day weekend, Jim decided he would go crazy being stuck in Texas with nothing to do. We must have the traveling bug, because he decided to hit the road.

No boring hotel room this weekend.

Friday night, he left as soon as class was out and drove the leg to Haysville. He quickly checked on our house and renters before crashing across the street at our gracious friends.

Saturday morning early {5:30ish}, he headed north to Highland, Kansas- that tiny spot in the middle of no where. He checked out the less-than-clean conditions in their all-football apartment and swooped Justin up to go along for the ride to visit family.
Destination: Granny's House. Marissa, Illinois.
They drove six hours yesterday arriving at Granny's house close to 4:00.

Talking to Granny a couple times on the phone this week, I have to admit I was more than a little sad to be over here and not there. In the small town of Marissa, most of the Dickeys are right there.

Jim's dad and step-mom, a step-brother and his family, uncles, aunts, cousins and their families, great aunts and uncles and friends.

Granny's house is sort of that magical, wonderful place to visit.
She and Pa built their house and have lived there for what seems forever. It is forever for the grandkids and great-grand kids.

The memories are endless.

Just in time for Sunday dinner, the cousins will gather, kids will play and the most delicious food will be enjoyed. Granny always remembers everyone's favorites. This weekend is no exception.

I've decided I want to be just like Granny when I grow up.

Always an open bed and space for anyone to visit.
Wonderful Sunday dinners with the most amazing hot, homemade bread.
Grandchildren and great-grandchildren all over the place.
All the time in the world {or at least that is how she makes you feel} to visit.
So much love.

Tomorrow, Jim and Justin will get in the car early {4:00am ish} in order to get Justin back to college at noon for conditioning. Even being a holiday, he was almost not allowed to leave. Luckily, Monday morning running was cancelled allowing him the time off. Quality time off with the dad.

Mapquest estimated the entire trip {one way} to be 14 hours and 890 miles.
Round trip, that makes it close to 28 hours of driving a whopping 1780 miles.

All in a weekend.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

B O L Z A N O , Italy

This was Jim, Justin and Coleman’s favorite day: our trip to Italy. Just a two-hour drive from our hotel, we couldn’t pass up the chance to peek into a new country.

Bolzano, Italy was our destination.

I can't believe how central and close we are located to so many countries.

We are working really hard to take in as much as we can especially in the short times that we have Justin home.
The weather was perfect- sunny, clear and cool but not too cold.

The drive was beyond beautiful even being the middle of January. To get to Bolzano, we drove straight down from Germany through the Alps and Austria across the border into Italy.

The mountains are truly magnificent. A little snow was a bonus. The scattered houses, castle ruins, vineyards and churches make the landscape a treat for the eyes.

Bolzano is the largest city in the region, but we were still able to navigate our way downtown without a problem. Jim stays calm and collected while he drives even in thick traffic with crazy roads and drivers. I love that about him.

No one even honked at us on this trip- a really good thing in a country known for crazy drivers and dented vehicles.
We found a parking lot and headed down the road toward the middle of town.
Right around the corner was this house with this sign. It says: In this house was Wolfgang Amadaus Mozart on December 23, 1769. You never know when you’ll find a famous house.

Our first stop was at a hole-in-the wall for an authentic Italian lunch. It was the first place we saw that was open and were lucky enough to get a seat.

More than a dozen people were turned away as they filled up fast for the lunch hour.

We really got lucky- it was a great stop.
We tried the bruschetta and pizza. Amazing.

We were already loving Italy. 
Oh, we are definitely going back.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

a little S K A T I N G

The boys love ice skating and begged to go back to the Olympic rink for an afternoon.
 With the Germans on holiday this trip, it was a little crowded. Last year, we had the whole rink to ourselves- it was really nice. This time was still fun minus the sore feet and bruised knees.  
Caden and Ty were last to come off the ice- they especially loved it.
I can't seem to get enough pictures of all four boys together.

Monday, January 14, 2013

W O R L D cup ski jumping

I'm SO happy for the fun we had during our winter break.

If you are going to live in Europe, you have to travel.

That’s all there is to it. It’s a trade-off being so far from family in the states and makes it worth being over here.

We are absolutely amazed each time we visit a new place.

This time with Justin home and the boys out of school, we planned another trip to one of our favorite spots: Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian region of southern Germany. 
Staying at the military resort, it is the most central, most convenient spot. With a small base, we can shop at the commissary and get our rationed gas {saving a ton of money}. 

As a bonus, we always seem to meet up with friends staying there at the same time. It makes it so much fun for the kids to hang with their friends.
 About the only thing we do the same each time we visit Edelweiss is the hot tub and pool. There are so many things to do that our day trips and sightseeing is different every single time. 
For this three-night, four-day trip the survey of favorites ended up as follows:
Jim: Italy/Ötzi
Sheila: World Cup Ski Jumping
Justin: Italy
Ty: Olympic Arena Ice Skating {duplicate from a trip last year}
Coleman: Ötzi
Caden: Olympic Arena Ice Skating

I think it is super important when trip planning {especially with kids} to balance the busy with the relaxed. It is tempting to plan an agenda getting up at the crack of dawn every day to get as much in as possible.
This time around, it was nice to sleep in a little. It was nice to watch movies at night. Other than our four-hour drive down to Garmisch, it was nice to stay within a two-and-a-half hour drive radius of our hotel. Needless to say, we still saw a lot.  
Day One was my favorite hands down.
We drove straight to the hotel, parked and called a taxi to take us to the venue. With 30,000 people attending, we decided not to try to find a parking space.
The Germans were so excited. I loved the energy in the air. They were especially excited when their German competitors were up to jump. They started singing and waving their flags. It was great. The jumpers were amazing- even from a distance to see them take off and go so far was incredible.
It was cold.
It was even a little crowded.
The boys were a little bored, but did alright. They were much better with a hot cider in their hands and German kuchen in their mouths. It was fun to have our friends Randy, Michelle and Ryan to hang out with too.
The taxi let us know where he would pick us up in an attempt to avoid some traffic.

We called him and what was supposed to be a 15-minute wait turned into an hour. The boys might have liked my plan a little better had we not froze waiting for the taxi.
Oh, well.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing that we can check off our list. No regrets, right? 

Check out this brotherly love- melts my heart.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

college football player v. the D A D

January might not be my favorite month this year.

Of course, Justin left us last week. Jim left this morning for a three-week trip to the states.

He is going to be completing an NTSB aircraft crash investigation course and more training with stops in Texas and Oklahoma. Three weeks is a long time for him to be away. It's all part of being in the military. We have longer trips ahead of us this year. I should be grateful this one is only three weeks.

It's snowing today. For some reason, we don't have water. Little things always seem to happen when he is away.

We are all just a tad off track.
Going from a family of six to just four of us does not feel right.
Oh well, it is temporary.

Back in August when Justin left for college, the challenge of an arm-wrestling bout between him and Jim was thrown out on the table.

Caden was probably most excited and was ready for them to arm wrestle as soon as Justin walked off the plane.

I'm quite confident this will be a new tradition in our house: arm wrestling with dad.

After hitting the weights hard this semester, Jim said Justin was strong but the dad was a little too much for the college football player.

Dad:1,  Justin:0

We'll see what happens in May.

Monday, January 7, 2013

that drive to F R A N K F U R T

I asked a friend of mine a while ago if it would be easier for me to say goodbye to Justin after this Christmas break home.

With kids at college in the United States her response was,
"That drive up to Frankfurt never gets easy."

We made that drive to Frankfurt yesterday morning. He's safely back in Kansas. His trip was relatively smooth with the exception of one delayed bag.

It was a nine-hour flight to Washington DC, then another 2 1/2 to Kansas City. A long day for him. Now he gets to get back on CST time.  

I think I did fairly well. 

We got him checked in and were heading to the gate. He let us know he knew where to go and we didn't have to go all the way with him. 

I didn't start crying until I went to hug him and told him I love him.

He was ready and excited to see friends. He is ok. I know this.
It does mean that I will miss him any less. It's just too far being over here.

We don't have the convenience of having him home for long weekends or other holidays. 

I'm already counting down the days until Summer break.

I didn't think I was quite ready for the boys to go back to school until I realized how quiet it was this morning. It was nice- very nice.

Ty, Coleman and Caden started back up this morning.
I am so excited for 2013.
 We were fortunate enough to be invited to ring in the New Year with our Dutch friends the VanGaalens.  They are a wonderful family- we just love being around them. They taught us {and fed us} their Dutch traditions and shared their beautiful home and family with us. 
The boys were spoiled as our friends purchased tons of fireworks. It was freezing at midnight, but the fireworks show was spectacular.
Getting home late, we didn’t have much time to sleep- it was an early morning up so we could head to Garmisch. 
What a trip.
That being said, I think we would all agree that we enjoyed this Christmas break to the fullest as a family. Lots of new memories.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Glückliches neues J A H R

H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R!
Glückliches neues Jahr!

We are on our way to southern Germany to get away for a couple days.
It is one of our very favorite places to go. Everyone is excited!

First up on our quick trip is the World Cup Ski Jumping finals at the Olympic Ski Jump arena in Garmisch-Partinkirchen. It's a tradition every New Year's Day- even televised for Europe to watch.

Last year, we checked the arena out with Starr and Mac. This time, there will be snow, ski jumpers and lots of Europeans. Even with standing-room tickets {the only affordable way for a family of six to attend}, it should be a memorable time.

When do you get the chance to see World Cup athletes?
They'll be competing just ten minutes away from our hotel. 
I'm sure it will be crowded. It might be really cold, too. But, we have to experience it!

At the World Cup ski race every year starts a who's who of Alpine skiing.

Total height149 m {489 feet}
Tower height60.4 m  {198 feet}
Starting length103.5 m  {339 feet}
Bounce rate92 km / h  {301,837 feet/hr}
Height of takeoff3.13 m  {10 feet}

Hopefully, we don't have to witness any crashes. I just hate it when they get hurt! Scary stuff.

Happy New Year! 2013 is going to be exciting- I can tell already!