Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our Surprise Move!

Many of you have asked for an update as to what I meant when I said we were moving again soon... Here's what's a nutshell (does that cliche saying make anyone else giggle?). Try to follow me. It might get confusing.

-At first we were stationed in Mannheim where Brian's "Activity" (aka "Company"), is located.

-His Activity is going to be moving to another base in Wiesbaden (pronounced VEES-bawden), about an hour away, in about 8 months. So, at first we thought we would be living here in Mannheim for 8 months and then have to move again...which was kind of a bummer to think about.

Confused yet? There's more.

-Three days before we got here, we received word that the Activity wanted us to instead move right away (after our first 90 days are to be spent in Mannheim) up to Wiesbaden, and then Brian would commute back down to Mannheim until the rest of the Activity moves up there.

-While it's great and more convenient for the government to not have to move us twice (which I'm totally all about being more efficient), it's been a bit hard for a few reasons, which are:

-If we're staying in Mannheim for the 90 days before we move and while we wait for our "stuff" to get here, do we put the girls in school to then have them leave and go to a new school? Or do we head up to Wiesbaden sooner into a temporary apartment til our stuff gets here the first 90 days, but would then make Brian's hour commute last even longer.

-Househunting has been a bit tedious seeing as though every time we want to look at something, we have to drive an hour away.

-We've had to hold off on getting involved in any extra curricular activities, church events, and army base events, as well as choosing doctors and signing up for a bank account, because we know we're moving soon.

-We'll be moving in the middle of winter, which I guess we would have been doing anyway, but it just seems worse that we'll be moving our stuff we have here further away.

-We've been living in a 650 square foot 2 bedroom apartment, with Spencer sleeping in a tiny closet "under the stairs" for the first 3 months (and yes, I know the Europeans are probably laughing at me right now for being the typical American, needing our big cars, our big refrigerators and our big houses.)

There ya have it. That's what's happening with us and our move.

So, happy househunting to us and we'll just all enjoy the ride of the first 3 months together, right?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Over the weekend, Brian came up with the idea to drive a few hours to an amusement park. He wants to make sure the girls feel like they are getting a fun experience while we're here, and not think that it's going to be the same boring stuff like when we were living back in the states, etc.

So, he told me about his idea, but wanted to keep it a surprise for the girls. He wouldn't even give them a hint. They were totally surprised. It also helped that we had gone to see a few houses that morning so they were TOTALLY ready for something fun to do, especially since it was a 3 hour drive.

This place was a little like Disneyland (with their themed areas) but better roller coasters like Magic Mountain. It was also much cleaner and well-kept though than those two places. They had an Asian Land, a Mexico Land, a Fantasy Land, African Land, Berlin Town, and one or two more others that I can't remember exactly.

This was one of the better roller coasters there. It was long and very fast. There were a few that looked even better, but the girls were too short to go on them.

The rides here in Germany definitely differ from the ones in the states. In America, they're so freaked out that people are going to sue them (probably cuz they have been...seeing as American are so sue-happy), that they have so many harnesses and shoulder belts and double lap restraints that you're so tucked in. This ride in America would have FOR SURE had shoulder harnesses. I was so surprised, but rather pleased, that it didn't. It made it that much more fun.

Spencer was just enthralled watching the roller coaster pass by. He sat there for a LONG time.

They also have "Baby Swap." I was just told by Stacy that Disneyland and MM have had it for awhile, but I guess I didn't get that memo! If Brian and I both wanted to go on a ride, but we had Spencer with us, we'd normally have to wait twice. But with "Baby Swap", we only wait once in line, and then one of us holds the baby while the first parent goes on. Then we swap holding the baby and the second parent goes on right away. Cool, huh?

These places definitely are busy, but not as crowded as the amusement parks I'm used to in California. I definitely didn't leave there grouchy like I sometimes do when I'm at Disneyland or Magic Mountain.

This amusement park had lots of characters outside all the time. We're so used to characters barely being seen at Disneyland, unless you're there on a super busy day. The girls were elated when these African dancers started speaking English to them. And Xanthe was also so happy that when they at first asked her in German "Wie Gehts?" (Vee-GATES?), which means "How are you?", Xanthe understood her and answered back in German "Guts Danke!" (GOOTS Dawnkuh!), which means "Good, thank you!" She was so proud of herself that she could understand a little and speak it back.

Spencer was a little shy of all the characters. But this dancer was so gracious and got him to be happy to see her and not scared (even though he looks it in the pictures)

Here is my whitey white boy who shines in the mother like son. We were watching this CRAAAAAZY ride in African Land. Spencer didn't like the African witch man voice booming out from it cuz he got this big frown on his face and started crying really hard. haha. For those of you who don't know, he also does that when someone "moos" like a cow. So weird. Don't try it now that you know that about him though. :)

Sorry this next picture is blurry. It's just so cute of the two of them.
These characters must be known for some TV show, or represent something, cuz most people seemed to know who they were. Kind of like how Knott's Berry Farm uses Snoopy characters. The girls wanted to take pictures with every single one they saw.

Do you love the word underneath this character? "Schmuck" actually means jewelry.

This picture below is of an inside roller coaster that spun around while it was going along the track. Very fun. And then it had a parachute ride in the middle.
So the girls wanted to go on the spinning roller coaster. So Brian took Spencer on a kiddie ride while we got in line for this one...or so we thought...

Here we are making faces at the camera waiting in line.

...until we realized that this ride was the roller coaster the girls DID NOT want to go on. These faces in the next picture are for-real scared faces. It's an indoor roller coaster, kind of like Space Mountain but no stars flying around to give it some light. It is PITCH BLACK. Brian had scared them already when we first got to the park by saying that was the ride he didn't want to go on cuz it made him sick when he came here before. hahaha. I was totally laughing and got SUPER excited. Space Mountain was one of my favorite rides when I was a kid.

Xanthe bucked it up and said she would ride by herself, but Xoe was in tears and made me ride with her. I told her she would LOVE it, but most of the way through the ride she was hovering down and kept saying she hated it. Uh huh...guess what she said when we were finished? "I wanna go on that one AGAIN with Brian this time!" What a little boogar. But it still makes me laugh. I totally knew she would!

Last ride we went on was this bungee trampoline jumping thing. How cool was that! The girls had a great time and caught some good air!
The guys helping us didn't speak a lick of English so we had to get passersby to help translate. haha.

Here's Xanthe trying to do some tricks.

Xoe's pictures are below. Xoe was trying to bend in half at one point.

Oh yaaaaa, baby! You KNOW I got up there. Me and my scared-of-heights-butt. I got pretty high but when I started getting higher than the bars and the slack of the rubberbands started flinging me, that's when I said "H*#$ No" and slowed down.

You proud?
We had such a great time! Brian was so patient with all of us, even when we were running late at the end (we had another house to go see) and we were all very hungry. He just patiently let us go all the way to the other side of the park to get some dang Asian noodles (we are all pretty sick of hamburgers and chicken nuggets at this point of being on a partial fast food diet for the last few months.)

We'll definitely have to visit this place when people come to visit. It won't be such a long drive from where we'll be living in a few months.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Oldie-but-goodie-5th Grade

 (This was originally posted in 09/2010, but I'm redating it where it should go. The first paragraph might seem a little off).

One of my projects today was to scan in a whole bunch of pictures, documents, etc. so I could blog about them. That's one of the biggest reasons I have been slacking is because things are scattered all over the house that go with some of my blog posts... in memory boxes, filing drawer, boxes that got dumped together when we were moving the office to another room... you get the jist.  So! now that I have scanned a bunch of stuff in, you are going to be graced with its awesomeness. 

First one!  Xanthe and Xoe's 5th Grade pictures. These were their pictures from the first elementary school they attended here in Germany, Mark Twain Elementary School in Heidelberg.  (I don't think we have 5th Grade pictures from the school we moved to in November of the same year, Hainerberg Elementary.)  

We really miss this school. If you'll remember I posted a lot about it starting here.  This was the school where Xoe got to ride on the fire engine ladder, and the school was so small it only had one 5th grade class. We LOVED Ms. Burrus, their teacher.

So! Here ya go!  Cuties huh?  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day of School in Germany

Yesterday, Xoe & Xanthe had their first day of school in Germany at the Mark Twain Elementary School. It's a very small school on one of the close-by army bases.

Many of you know that we almost didn't put them in school because we found out a couple days before we were to fly over here that Brian will be stationed in another town an hour away and that we would be living there after 3 months of living here (more details on that later). So, we were kind of undecided if we wanted to put them in one school, and then pull them out midyear to have them start all over again in the new city we live in.

I asked a few people for advice and I got the same reaction from all of them...that the girls are super social and they would do fine, especially since they have bounced in and out of schools a lot during their childhood and they've done perfectly fine so far.

I brought up the options with the girls to get their thoughts and when I mentioned the issue of homeschool...that even though I didn't want to homeschool them again, I would do it if it made it easier on them (ugh! I SO didn't want to)...Xoe blurted out, "Noooooooooo! No more homeschool PLEASE!!!!!" haha. I didn't know if I should have been offended or relieved. I was relieved.

The girls love, love, love school. They couldn't wait to start, especially after we visited the school and the principal woo-ed them over. I reminded them that they wouldn't be able to stay here all year and they said they didn't care. It was like drudgery (for them AND me) waiting the three days we had to wait until all the paperwork was in and filed.

Their teacher's name is Ms. Burrus and she has an amazing reputation for her teaching skills. Every year her students get such high marks on their testing, and the children all love her. She has been so great to take the time to welcome the girls in and I have such a sense of relief with where they are and the type of school they're in to help transition them from their bad year of 4th grade.

I love that the whole school is so wonderful to us. It really is like a family there. They only have about 150 students. Most of the other kids who live nearby go to another base for elementary school. That one has 450 students. Because we lived in a smaller town, and were kind of on the outskirts and closer to this school, we were able to choose the smaller one. We had the option of the bigger one but we made this decision for the following reasons: because there they can get more one-on-one help, more attention and can make better friends, rather than just being a number. Like I said, I wanted them to have a good experience transitioning back into regular school, especially since last year was such a bad year, and I really felt like a school like this could re-establish their faith in wanting to learn and get an education.

The girls' favorite class is "Host Nation". Believe me, they were SO looking forward to this class, so I was extremely happy it was on their extracurricular slot for Monday instead of at the end of the week. The class is taught by a woman named Frou Thow, who is, of course, German. And she teaches the kids German words, German phrases and German culture. They'll learn how to order at a restaurant, what is common courtesy, and how to get directions. This week they learned phrases such as "How are you?", "Where do you live?" and "How was your day?" They have been walking around practicing since yesterday. It makes me giggle cuz I love that they are so into this. I truly recognize that they could have been bratty teenagers who would make this whole trip miserable.

They also love that they get to ride the bus to school. Especially cuz it's unlike America in the fact that the American government rents German city buses to drive them to and from school. So they get to ride on an official "Schul Bus" and wait at a proper German bus stop. There are a few other kids who wait at the same bus stop and it's literally 1 block away. So the girls can walk all on their own, or with these other kids. Man, do I have it made or what!?

Except the only drawback is that we have to get up at 6:00 a.m. What?! I haven't gotten up at 6:00 a.m. for years. That is just SO early. But they have to be at the bus at 7:10 a.m. and school starts at 7:50 a.m. Military...sheesh. Everything starts SO early. It's good though. It gets me up and going for the day. I'm going to be cursing it when we have to walk that early to the bus stop in the freezing cold.

So, there you all have it to answer everyone's question I've been getting a lot, which is "How are the girls handling it?" They are loving it.

P.S. I didn't post more pictures because Xanthe took a few more of the school, but she made me promise not to post them so that she could on her blog. So, those of you who can view her blog, look for it coming soon. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

What Did Spencer Do?

Many of you asked what we did with Spencer while we were packing up?

All I have to say is he had the lap of luxury goin on. And he knew it. Check it out. One night we were working out in the garage and Brian set up a video player for him to watch while strapped into his stroller (he kept crawling around on the dusty garage you can see by his dirty knees and feet).

Spencer took advantage of it by kicking up his leg and lounging out.

Glad SOMEONE got to rest. hehe. Spencer, you're awesome! You took the whole move in stride, even when you had to be strapped into car seats, strollers or locked in a room. (Hehe, j/k on the last one...maybe)

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Mary Jacobs, one of the parents in our Girl Scout troop, threw our family a wonderful going away party for the Girl Scout troop and their families.

Some of the things I loved about this party:
1. How cute is this cake?

2. The food was so great. We had shredded BBQ pork, Mexican rice, homemade salsa, condiments, etc., etc. She is a working mom and had time to throw a wonderful party! What a great lady.

Mary Jacobs, Morgan Wolf, Joanna Sipes

3. Her house is so beautiful! And her backyard. What a wonderful place to have a party. I could spend all day and night out there.

4. The going away presents: The girls each got a beautiful packet of stationery to write letters to their friends, and I received a very beautiful amethyst & light goldish scarf for the winter months. Mary has such classy taste. I can't wait to be able to use it as part of my winter wardrobe (I LOVE the "look" of winter dress...beautiful coats, boots, scarves, hats...when it's done up classy). Kristina also gave each of the girls a stuffed animal to take with them on the plane and all the girls gave us a wonderful goodbye card.

Kristina and Xanthe

5. All the girl scouts performing dances and camp songs for us.

6. Great conversation with the parents.

7. All the girls and parents who were there! What an amazing turnout. Thank you to all that came! It really meant a lot for those who were willing to be there.

We're truly going to miss all of you and hope that we can keep in touch through the years. We love you all!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Brian's Work Going Away Party

Brian's work threw him a Goodbye Party two days before he left. These flyers were taped up all over the building. I thought this one was quite funny. His face was plastered on the Women's Door Bathroom. Not on the Men's door bathroom though. hehe. I guess they knew women frequent the restroom quite a bit.

The following are some People Pictures...

This is Xanthe guzzling a Squirt. She was stoked that she was allowed to have one cuz she loves that soft drink.

Brian and Spencer hanging out with Xoe stretching in the back. I wanted to get a picture with the tables of people in the background.

Xoe in mid-sentence.

Carmody and Christy with their new baby, Ella. Carmody was Brian's roommate for quite awhile. After he got married to someone with quite a cool name, they have both stayed good friends.

Brian being given a plaque by his boss, Mark.

Brian making a speech.

And of course, the cake.

I need to get a picture of the really cool statue they gave him of a "Buffalo Soldier" on a horse. It is a reminder of the army base we're on because that base was started by the infamous "buffalo soldier" infantry (aka the first African American soldier infantry, "their skin was as dark as a buffalo, and their fierceness was as hard as a buffalo".) I was a bit worried it was going to be cheesy, but it's a pretty cool statue. It was a bit too heavy though to stuff in our suitcases. I'm sure it would have alone made us exceed the 50 pound baggage limit. Christy and Carmody are going to graciously mail it to us.

I almost didn't make it to the party...for so many various reasons. I didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal. But they really did make it a big deal and I was so glad I was there. I didn't realize he had been there for 2 years and it was nice to hear all the great things his coworkers said about him. Good job, Brian.