Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Unconventional Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving, I had bought everything for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  I wasn't super thrilled about it because Thanksgiving just isn't my thing. It's fun to celebrate, but the hoopla of making a huge dinner just didn't sit well with me.  Now CHRISTMAS Dinner DEFINITELY is MY thing!

My friend, Renee, was trying to get everyone to go to the DFAC (the base's Dining Facility aka cafeteria) this year.  A whole bunch of people were going but we had to decline because I had already everything and thought we were inviting some of Brian's single work friends over.  We also had had a few other invites from people, so the DFAC wasn't really high on the list. But then the single friends ended up traveling last minute for the holiday, too last minute to go to our friends' house, so we thought we would just be doing it on our own.  

Fast forward to the night before Thanksgiving.  Brian was up all night with the flu and neither of us got any sleep.  I thought, "He is the main one I'm making a huge meal for.  The girls actually would rather go to the DFAC (they like the DFAC food. It's actually really good food.).  I'm goin to the DFAC!"

I was seriously glad I did.  We had such a great time.  The army put on a serious feast and the decorations were amazing.  Coming from a catering family, and knowing how hard it is to prepare for that many people, I was impressed.  You'll see from the pictures below.
Xanthe & Xoe LOVING the chocolate fountain they had set up while people were waiting in line. Luckily, we had gotten there early so we didn't have to wait very long.  But within the 15 minutes it took us to go through the food line, the place was packed and the line went all the way out into the parking lot.

Entrance Way right next to the chocolate fountain. I'm taking these pictures mainly for my dad. I figure he'd appreciate these tables. I wish I would have gotten a picture of the cakes and pigs that were lining the entryway. I got individual ones but not a whole overview.

What most impressed me were the army officers, including the VERY higher ups... Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, etc., serving us the food in their "blues."  It was a little humbling for me because I feel like they already do so much for our country, to have them standing there serving the food made me feel a little odd. I'm sure there is another reason they do it (like politics in saving money from having to pay other workers), and I know a few of the men who do it that hated it, but I was impressed and appreciated it.

There were lots of these all around the room. Random, huh? But pretty cool actually.
They also had sheet cakes all around the room dedicated to all the "units" we have on this base.  This is the Unit Brian works for, and their insignia.

One of the sections of the DFAC. There are two back rooms and a whole other side the size of this room. The "lines" on the right are the salad bars and condiments.
One of my favorite parts was that they converted the back "sports" area to a kid-friendly area.  I was worried about spencer because he was at the age of being very "busy" and I didn't know how much I wanted to be chasing him around the whole time.  But we found a TV that had on kids' shows and I thought, "Genius, people! Thank you!"

Then all of our friends started showing up.  There were SO MANY  PEOPLE there from our church.  I was seriously shocked. And when one family left, another one came in. I thought, "What was I thinking!? This was the way to do it and I am gonna do this EVERY year."

(Our old bishop's family.  They moved last year.)
I will DEFINITELY be coming back here year after year until I move back to the states.  I know some people think it's super trashy doing this but I don't care. Some of the most amazing families do it every year since we're away from home. It's fun to be able to see so many people all at once.  Happy Thanksgiving. Until next year!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

6th Grade Awards Assembly-Quarter 1

Xanthe and Xoe have been doing really well in their studies.  They have been on the High Honor Roll two quarters in a row. Here are pictures from their first awards assembly.  They got a certificate (of which I can't find upstairs in their myriad of "memory" papers), a congratulations letter from the principal, and a packet of "coupons" to all the shops on the base.  Things like a free movie ticket, and a free magazine from the Bookstore, and free food from the bowling alley and food court.  If anything, the girls look forward to winning that packet of coupons.  Hey! Whatever works, right? :)

Xanthe... I was so proud that the Colonel (not in this picture, but the main person in charge over here) actually comes to these awards ceremonies... every quarter.  He is very proud of the kids and really supports and encourages them.  The one with the suit is their principal (in our ward... and the girls get really nervous around him seeing him at church) and the one with the microphone is Mr. Lawrence, their Language Arts teachers, and one of their favorites. I really like him too. He's super fun and vibrant and laid back and very encouraging of the girls' smarts.  They love his class. 


With one of their best friends, Jazmine!  She's like our adopted daughter, she's over at our house so much. Her parents are good friends of ours too.
Congrats, girls! Keep up the good work!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Young Women in Excellence

I feel like I already posted about this but can't find the post anywhere on my blog. So here I go. Sorry if this is a repeat.

Last year, the Young Women (church group ages 12-18) invited Xoe & Xanthe and their other friend who was turning 12 the same day, to attend their Young Women in Excellence Night.  This is their sort of "End of the Year" dinner acknowledging everything the Young Women have done that year.  

We felt so proud to be invited. The Young Women's President made it such a fancy dinner. She had pretty goblets, fancy china, a sitdown meal.  Every detail was not overlooked.  Even the water bottles were decorated.  It also gave X&X a great opportunity to meet a couple of the other Young Women and to start getting excited for the program.  I was happy to see other Young Women who the girls could look up to as examples.  We have a great bunch and I'm excited for them to turn 12.

Thanks Tina (and the rest of the leaders and girls) for making X&X feel so welcome.

Their Young Women President

Such a cute banner, huh?

This was all there was in the program up until then.  Soon afterward, two new families moved in with 5 girls between them, and another girl was baptized.  Going from one girl to 10 in only a few months was amazing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Is it working?

I sat for two hours yesterday making a whole new Halloween post because so many people said they couldn’t read or see the pictures.  So I deleted the post and made a new one.  On my computer and Brian’s computer (without  me being signed in), we can see all of the pictures.  Can you?

Please let me know so I can figure out what is going on, if it really isn’t working… or everyone just needs to refresh their browser.

Thank you!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


(For those who have already read this post, I've included an addendum below).

My blog is not working. 
And everything I do to make it better turns worse.
I’ve even tried all the things everyone else advised me to do.  No avail.
Even Brian has tried fixing it and it hasn’t done anything.  And you know good he is at fixing things!
It’s like it hates me.
All is well though.  Leave it to Brian to save the day and just pay the damn $5.00 for some extra storage space and call it good.
There are still lots of other problems, like posts not having all the pictures inside them, or settings being messed up.  So be forgiving for awhile. 
If all of the above weren’t enough for a ball of anger to form, I now have to make a list of everything that keeps going wrong so when I call Blogger Help back I can have a written log.
Bitter.  I hate doing things like that. 
It’s like getting your wallet stolen.  Or getting in a car accident.  All the stupid extra steps and hassles you have to go through just to get a new copy of your license, or the dent in your door fixed.  SUCH A BURR IN MY SIDE, and I don’t like burrs in my sides.
On a lighter note, I think I fixed my Halloween post (after 2 hours of manually typing in html code).  So, hopefully you’ll be able to see all the pictures.

Let me clarify:
In response to Randi's comment, it wasn't a matter of too many pictures.  What was happening was that every time I posted, instead of saving one set of pictures into Picasa, two sets of pictures were somehow being saved. I was told by a couple of people if I delete them out of Picasa they wouldn't be deleted off my blog.  But of course, that didn't work for me. So I now have double the amount of pictures within my storage space.  

Also, the settings for the size of my pictures is quite large.  When I tried to make them smaller in the past, it was not only time consuming, but people told me they couldn't click on them and make them bigger to look at people a little more close up.  Therefore, each picture was taking up double the space.  I used up my storage space very quickly because of both of these reasons.  

We were trying to figure out anything we could do, until late last night at 1:00 a.m. I got an email on my phone (I still wasn't asleep) from Google confirming the purchase of extra space.  Brian had purchased it probably out of the need to get me off his back about the whole thing.  haha.  It does seem easier and it's not expensive. It was just the principle that was making me so mad.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ramba Zamba

Another fun indoor play place.  We have frequent stamp cards for these places for the wintertime. :) I didn't have my camera so I had to use my cameraphone.  Sorry for the bad quality pictures.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Grammy & Grandpa say goodbye

This was a sad day for us when my mom and dad had to leave. It truly was nice having family come to visit and the girls, I think, were the most heartbroken when they had to leave. I've mentioned it before, that the girls have a special bond with Grammy and Grandpa (not surprising... G&G are freaking awesome!). Here we are saying goodbye at the airport. Thank you G&G!  We will miss you and the girls will be counting down the days til they can see you again!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The City of Wurzburg

(Wurzburg, Germany)
The last day my parents were here, we wanted to go on the Rhein River Cruise.  That was something my mom wanted to do the last time they toured through Germany when my dad was here with his college performing group.  But, alas, they weren’t able to take the beautiful cruise to see a slew of castles from a whole different point of view.  So, that was what we planned for their last day so my mom could really experience it.
Unfortunately, that morning as I was asking some of my friends for a few last details, one of them mentioned it might close for the winter in early October.  Sure enough, it did.  October 3rd was the last tour.  I was pretty bummed. Our plans had been thwarted so many times… first with the Kensington Palace, and then Neuschwanstein Castle, both things my mom really had her heart set on. And now the River Cruise.  I knew she regretted not being able to go last time so I didn’t know what to do that would make up for it (let me mention that she never complained, but I do know she was a little disappointed with the things we hadn’t been able to do).
There is always SO MUCH to do here in Germany that is pretty amazing, but we also had time working against us.  “Trier” (the oldest German city) was 2 1/2 hours away and needed more than a day to tour.  My parents had already been to “Rothenburg.”  Then I remembered “Wurzburg.”  My friend, Lindsey, used to live there (there was a military base) and has always tried to get people to go.  I HAD.NO.IDEA.WHAT.SHE.WAS.TALKING.ABOUT.AND.SERIOUSLY.WISH.I.HAD.SOONER.

The first place we visited was the Palace called “Residenz Wurzburg”.  My mom and I thought we were just visiting a tiny palace, similar to the Linderhof, until we drove around the corner and the trees opened up to the most beautiful view.  My mom actually squealed and I had a look of shock on my face.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the most beautiful palace I have yet to see (I haven’t been to Versailles yet). 
I think I was in such awe that I totally forgot to take pictures.  So I had to “borrow” some from the internet just so you could get an idea of the beauty and magnitude of this beautiful place.  And the pictures with my parents in it, are taken with a camera phone.

Below is the “Grand Staircase”. Lindsey mentioned it’s one of the 12 Architectural Design Wonders of the World, but I haven’t looked it up to verify. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.  It truly took my breath away.  I don’t know much about the history of any of it because I didn’t learn before I went but I’m sure there is so much to learn.  In time, I will research it (because my curiosity usually gets the best of me) but for now I want to let the images and impressions I formed sit for awhile.

It was amazing to learn that this city was almost completely ruined in the war.  Inside the palace, they show pictures of the reconstruction efforts, and detail what the owners had taken down in anticipation of the ruin and destruction of the war.  There were also pictures of the city as a whole after the war… there are no words for what it looked like after so many bombings.  I had never grasped what the history books meant when they talked about the devastation of the war.  Seeing these pictures really brought to light their meaning and I have a little bit of a better understanding of the gravity of what went on. 
This is the Grand Ballroom… breathtaking, I tell you.

After the Residenz, we took a quick walking tour through the center of town.  It was no surprise that we stopped by a lot of churches.  Two things Lindsey also told tell me was that this was the city of 1,000 steeples (is that right, Linds?) and Madonnas.  This is true. We saw churches and Madonna statues adorning buildings everywhere.
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One thing Germany is famous for is its Christmas Markts.  Almost every town usually has some sort of festival in their town square...  the smaller towns usually last for one a weekend or two.  But the bigger towns start around the 3rd week of November and last through Christmas.  I’ll post more about these later, pictures, etc. to give you an idea of what they are, but know that they are super fun.  Booths and booths and booths of handmade items, some old-fashioned, some modern.
I knew my  mom would have really loved going to a Christmas Markt but the Markets wouldn’t be starting for a few weeks.  Imagine my surprise, then, that Wurzburg was having a festival in their town square (similar to what most towns do during the year) but some of the Christmas Markt stands were already starting to sell things, including wooden carvings, aromatherapy, children’s wooden toys and my favorite, the glass memorabilia mugs filled with Kinderpunch to drink.  Most of the adults drink the alcoholic version (hot wine) but I like the stuff for kids.  It’s like really strong Hawaiian punch, but warm. 
Wurzburg 006
Wurzburg 009
My mom loved the architecture on this building so I made sure I took a picture of her in front of it.Wurzburg 010
We were really hungry, but I really wanted to find a typical German stand to eat.  We were almost out of luck until right when we were heading to McDonald’s (sad face), we turned the corner to find a German eating place, and a booth of sweets and hot wine (see the picture below).  For food, we shared a schnitzel burger (hot breaded schnitzel on a roll), a beef sandwich (similar to an American hamburger), pommes frites (french fries, but WAY better than American’s), and something else I didn’t know what to call it (Kerstin… a little help?) but it was little spaetzel noodle with onions and sauerkraut, sausage and some sort of sauce on it.  That was my dad’s favorite! Score! So much better than McDonald’s (although I have to say Germany’s McDonald’s has such better food).
Then we got a chocolate covered strawberry skewer (6 strawberries on a skewer, then the whole thing is dipped in chocolate) and some kinderpunch.Wurzburg 001
This was such a great way to end their trip.  We saw so much more than I could take pictures of… the River Bridge, the fortress on the hill, and the German grocery store my parents explored through. I loved that they wanted to get to know the culture of wherever we went.  And they truly got a German experience coming to Wurzburg. It was fate that our plans didn’t work out and we were able to visit this breathtaking city.  This is a definite stop to bring future guests, and I will for sure be returning with Brian and the kids.