Thursday, June 30, 2011

Annelies on the train to Trier. We're having a Mama/Anny day!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So many thoughts...

We're slowly beginning to settle in here, starting to feel a little less like the old V-8 commercials. (Remember when they walked sideways till they had their V-8?) But ready to have a home and settle in more. Our TLF (temporary living facility- like a small apartment) is very nice, I have no complaints, but it's not home. And I can only walk to the playground with the kids here- now, mind you, it's an awesome playground, but it's not a cool cafe or bakery. Yes, I'm obsessed with bakeries. More house hunting is lined up for this evening and again tomorrow night assuming the kids are up for it. Tomorrow, very exciting, we're taking a train trip with the base newbies group to Trier (our closest big city) for the day? Afternoon? I confess, I didn't stop to ask details- Jim messaged me if I was interested and I e-hollored YES! It's likely in the middle of nap time, so that should be interesting, but I'm hoping the new sights and train outweigh the crankies. And ice cream if at all possible will happen. The kids can have some, too.
The girls are making a few friends, boys (which Adriana doesn't mind, and Annelies survives) but you get what you get and I will say, they are lovely boys. And they have a trampoline, which helps their girl cred tremendously. Here's a picture of Adriana and her new little buddy on the trampoline, to say she adores it would be the understatement of the year!
Some of our stuff arrived yesterday which has been a huge blessing! I let the girls each pack 2 flat rate boxes of toys which I assumed would be here about when we were. True. However, I also assumed we'd be able to get to our PO box. False. But they came yesterday, along with all my Amazon orders, you should have seen Jim's face- "what did you buy??" Ha! So we are now back in My Little Pony/Littlest Pet Shop/Dress up/Doctor kit/Kitchen toys/Playmobile land and it's good to be back. I'm having some fun with the girls and only opening one box at a time. They are dying to get into the next ones! They are so happy to have some of their favorite toys back; it brings me joy to see their faces as they open the boxes. Also makes me think I should start rotating their toys more, but that project's about #1 billion on my to do list right now. We'll see...
And my purse! How could I not just title this whole thing, PURSE! I have an awesome backpack I use for traveling as my purse, and I love it, it works perfectly! However, it is huge and ugly. I was missing my pretty purse! But it's back, and we had a nice snuggle and now I get to transfer all my goodies back :) I also bought the girls each a new toy for when they got here and I knew Annelies' was a safe bet- the LPS car, but the little puzzle I got Adriana has been a favorite of both the girls! It's just the right amount of challenge- here's a photo: 
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board

I actually woke up to the sound of Annelies playing with the latches this morning- a little unsettling as I thought it was someone messing with the door at first! But once I realized I was getting another 5 minutes of sleep while she was playing I loved it even more! I really bought it for Adriana, but they both adore it!
Alright off to get 1 girl out of quiet time and start rustling the other! We're off to house hunt in about an hour! Mascara may be in order too...better do that first...
so 5 minutes later, I just went to the girls and this would be them:

Crack me up. Apparently it's time to make some noise! Boxes, here I come!
Here are a few more photos from our day at the playground yesterday:
I have a thing for tree underbellies.

The girls just being cute!

Annelies put flowers in her hair like Rapunzel :)

"We can pick all of these?!" The golden days before you realize they're just weeds.

Monday, June 27, 2011

House Hunting Pt 2 of 1,000,000

This bathroom is large by American standards,
it's enormous for a German house! This photo only
shows about 30% of it!
No luck today, but soooo close! The first house we saw was in Erdorf. Funky with personality? Yes! Historical charm? Still has the 1830 stamp! Modern amenities inside (kitchen, bath)? Yes! Near a playground? Yes! Near a train? Yes, though literally near a train, not like "in the same town", though with 3' walls, you barely hear it. Beautiful backyard, it has it all, right? Nope. Dining room. Nada. Unless you want to use the entry way as the dining room. So close and yet so far. Though I did discover the neatest thing here- panelvans! A panelvan is a cart that comes through town (in this town, twice a day; in smaller towns, twice a week) with fresh fruit, breads, bakery treats and sometimes milk! They drive up and honk and you better hustle out if you want something unless you have a previous agreement for a certain time/day and then they'll wait for you a few minutes. How cool is that? Fresh bread to my door? Um, yes! Which is good, because Erdorf doesn't have a bakery. poo.
Entrance to the kitchen-the Germans love color!
Here are some photos of the Erdorf house:
The beautiful Kyll river. About a 5 minute walk or less.

How cool is that front?
Gorgeous little back yard!

It does have an eat in kitchen- for 4 though. No company.

Next we hit upscale German suburbia- Bitburg. Now, this house is suh-weet! But also comes with a hefty price tag (not to mention loss of historical awesomeness.)

Can you see the split? That's steeper than it looks!

How could I not take a photo of the bidet

This is half of a large living/dining room.
Just a lovely house all around!
This is on a cul-de-sac: good; 5 minutes from the coolest playground I've ever seen (SO wanted to play myself):great; established yard and landscaping including apple and cherry tree, raspberries and strawberries and another mystery berry- cranberry maybe:good; split level backyard: weird. I have images of my toddler rolling down the hill, but not in the good way, more in the ass over tea kettle way. Did I mention a garage? This is a treat in Germany!

Okay- for the playground-it almost deserves it's own post! Wait till you see the swing- I will swing on that.
For real, can you imagine living near this? dude.

coolest. swing.ever.

"Mama! They have sheeps you can get on!"

The writing atop the door frame is the husband's initial, the
wife's initials and the build date.
 Last we hit the heart breaking Niederstedem. What landlords, what a location, what a backyard! What a steep, uneven stepped, one bathroomed old house. I'm in love with the landlords, they could not be better! We had fizzy cherry juice at a little table in the backyard under an apple tree. And she brought it out in a basket! I can't even stand it. But one bathroom? And on the ground floor, while the rooms are a floor up. That's tough. Have people done if for years? Yeah, yeah, but I'm American. I want it all, and I want it all conveniently. I worry about my daughters waking in the night to powder their little noses and crashing down the steps. It's another old one, well, old by US standards, 1800s again and some incredible features. The built in shranks (like cupboards/closets) and grandfather clock are amazing! Solid oak floors! But I have zero idea how our great big American king size bed will get up those stairs and I know for a fact Jim won't fit through all the doorways without ducking. Did I mention they get a kick out of our "giant" furniture? You'll see ads that say, "large stairwell for huge American furniture!" Ha! So, back to the nearly perfect house. Okay, the house isn't nearly perfect for us, it's just in a super cool location and I'm just crazy for the owners (who'd live next door.) Did I mention we can go over and get fresh milk from them? Or fresh eggs 2 houses down? I could live in nearly any house to be connected with them (I swear, Jim brings out the farmer in me!) but I just don't think this house will work. It makes me sad. I would like to swing through the town again sometime and take them out for a beer though- cool, cool people. I love farmers. I love anyone who'll bring me fresh, creamy milk!

 This shrank used to house a fireplace underneath, but now is all storage. Can you see the clock? Love it!
The son is a landscaper hence the awesome backyard. But it's not beautiful in your standard professionally landscaped home, this is more Secret Garden style. 

THE bathtub. As in the only bathub.

 This is the house as part of the farm as seen from the front. The two parts on the sides are barns inside that are currently used for storage. I'm still trying to think how this place could work!
The neighbors cows. I can't express how excited my girls get about cows. It's the same as with horses, except you expect little girls to adore horses. I think there may be some sort of farm gene and the girls got it somewhere down the genetic line.

More of the gorgeous backyard. You can see the little table where we had our Kirsch (cherry) something (I can't remember the word for fizzy.)

I'm still hoping to hear back from the folks about Wolsfeld. In the process of looking at this house I learned all about the bakery, butcher and great schoolsof Wolsfeld. Please let that house not be gone already! The good ones go in a few days of being posted. Ahhhh.....God has a plan, God has a plan, I hope it includes a yard.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

House Hunting Part 1 of ??

Where to start? Have we found the perfect house? Nein. We found a weird house in the perfect location (Dudeldorf) and the perfect house in a weird location. And a straight up crazy house in an insane location. I only remembered to take photos of the house in Bruch, which was the nice house in the small, small town of Bruch. Read: no bakery. problem. I'm attaching some pics of the Bruch house. I'm going to think outloud here- perhaps that's all a blog is? Anyhoo- I'd love to hear any thoughts you all have! Dudeldorf: the perfect little town! Not too big, not too small (award winning bakery!) and this house- oh my goodness. The bakery and the playground are a short walk away! Beautiful place! The house is enormous- used to be a cafe/bakery in the 1950s and has been totally renovated. Pros: very, very large- 2 apartments turned into 1. Cons: due to the combining of apartments and the former use it's oddly spaced out. Also, 2 tenants above in floors 2 & 3 (in the States that would be 3 and 4.) If this was a slightly more normal house I'd snap it up, but the sharing of the building weirds me a little. There's a yard, and it's "ours" but what does that mean? We'd be the only tenants with kids, so I don't know if they'd even want it. And it's perfect for entertaining- the bottom/ground floor has window/doors that open all the way across with a little kitchen opening onto the patio, but again, would this bother the other tenants? The house in Bruch is beautiful, I love it! And the views, omgoodness! And you can see a castle from the windows (my girls were straining to see if Rapunzel might not be in one of the towers?) but the yard is tiny and not the kind you could let your kids run in at all. Also Bruch doesn't have a lot going on past houses and I'd really like to live in my town and not just got to the base for everything. And as I type this more and more makes sense to me. There's another house in Wolsfeld (it takes all my concentration not to say WOLFsfeld) that has tons of room and a closed yard (rock wall, maybe 3? 4 ft high?) It's a little farther away, but a decent sized town (will have to check if there's a bakery) and a great area for kids. The inside is great, the outside is great. Hm.... so many thoughts. Add to all this that house hunting with a two year old just plain bites.
Tomorrow we try with a rental realtor- this is also good and bad, isn't everything? Good- he knows all about everything (really, I quizzed him), cons, he comes with a fee if we choose one of his houses. One month's rent- ugh. Just in fees. But our first 2 choices in houses were gone before we could even see them. Perhaps we need help? We decided we'd try the no realtor houses first and see where we got, unfortunately we couldn't see anything but photos of the Wolsfeld house, but unless that turns out to rock, we're going to have to see his. SO! Tomorrow: Niederstedem, Bitburg & Erdorf!
To the Bruch pics:

From the front
the girls are bonkers for all the stairs here, just love them! up and down, up and down, and repeat!

Awesome party/play/family room Pt 1
Itty Bitty Little Patio

Awesome party/play/family room Pt 2

The living room, feat. our wonderful friend who's driving us about all day!
View from one of the windows, see the towers?
I found the link to the Dudeldorf house pictures! Here it is:
So you can see- very open and nice, but strange entrance and layout (the photo with all the doors is the entrance, odd.
Here are photos of the inside of the Wolsfeld house as taken by someone else- we've yet to be inside, though we did drive by.
Lovely, lovely house. I would make the top of the landing a little play area...

Bruch: more photos

Here are all the photos I took of the Bruch house:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Simply Sus in Germany!

We made it! And not only did we make it, we made it beautifully! 2 adults, a 5 year old and a 2 year old on a 24 hour trip. I was just hoping not to make the papers, but it went so smoothly! Praise you God! For looking after us and hearing all our (and our family & friends') prayers! I'd also like to make a huge shout out to whomever came up with the Observation Deck at Baltimore airport- that was a life saver! Rocking chairs, HUGE windows to watch the planes come in and out and a sweet playground! (That you can see from the rocking chairs!) Outlets for the video player, comfy chairs, separate sections, one entrance (this is key should you be there with a swift 2 year old). We spent hours there! Which was good since the USO is pretty awesome, but sans playground. Our first leg was only 45 minutes, so aside from explaining to the girls why I wasn't getting out the laptop to watch 20 mins of movie it was a snap. That layover was really only enough time to get across the airport/change a diaper/bathroom breaks. Our next leg was about 2 hours so courtesy of a Boowa & Kwala game I have on my laptop, that was pretty decent too. And some rock star bendy sticks (like wax coated pipe cleaners, but without the wire) courtesy of an excellent friend, we were golden. Then came the wait. We got into Baltimore about 4pish and didn't fly our again till 11:45p. for rizzle. Let me come back again to the Observation Deck that spared my kids the emergency duct tape I'd packed! Another tip- should you be in the Baltimore area, actually, I'd say within an hour or two, it was so good, the DuClaw Brewing Company (thanks for the tip nice USO lady!) YUM. Like, I'd drive an hour with my kids to get there kind of yum. I had the Euphoria beer and it was too fabulous! The hubby and I were lamenting our lack of time and babysitter to properly appreciate all they had! And the food was scrumptious! Jim had a giant Maryland Crab Cake (it is my understanding that these should recognized as not your average crab cake :) Love you, Carrie!) and I had a Carolina Brisket sandwich with deep fried red onions. It makes my mouth happy just remembering! Funny- out of habit I left a rather large tip (refer back to the 2 year old) and Jim says, wait for it, "we didn't really make that much mess." All parents know what's coming next. I put Adriana in the stroller with her cup of orange juice and turn around the get Annelies when patrons at the bar start frantically trying to get our attention. Yup. Swimming in OJ. Turns out she can get those lids off, who knew? But it gets better, we decided since we had so much luggage, we'd check my carry on since it was going to be on the plane with us, just underneath so it would for sure make it to Germany. And where were my emergency clothes? So Adriana rocked a giant Cute & Crabby in Maryland shirt dress style for the rest of the trip. Thank goodness she's cute! Ahh....good times.... though truly, off all the substances that have trashed my kids clothes on long trips, orange juice is by far the best! At least I didn't have to carry her by her ankle to the bathroom! As for the looong flight over the Pond, the girls slept all but an hour! (The last hour) Adriana fell asleep (passed out might be more accurate) in the waiting area chair- she just kid of slumped over! Poor kid! But managed to stay asleep onto the plane, buckled in and moved around! God loves us. Annelies lasted about 8 minutes once we were on. And this was good, because the A/C broke and we sat there for an hour waiting (sweating) for maintenance to come fix it. We were on a military flight and I felt for the guys in uniform! I was sweating in a tank top, jeans and no shoes/socks- there were in full gear and boots just dying of heat! Not that you'd hear them complain, but it hurt to watch them sweat!
24 hours later, here we are in the TLFs in Germany at the base and all is pretty well! Annelies is asleep still, she was up at some hour and couldn't sleep so as the good mother I am I went to sleep in her bed and told her she could play in her room! Ha! It worked. When I woke up again she was in bed with me. Adriana's my morning girl, so she woke up and I tried to pull the same plan and she, ever so gently ;), demanded orange juice and cartoons. And here we are. It's a beautiful summer day in Germany- 55 and rainy and I love it! We went to the playground last night, 8p? and had to wear sweaters! To contrast, it was 95 when we left the states. I am savoring this mild weather, though it was weird to wake up today and need a sweater and socks in the room! I may be making a stop for some long sleeve shirts for the girls! For anyone who knows my husband, he thinks this is excellent weather and is wearing his t-shirt and shorts in bliss!
I'm trying to upload some pics of our new pad (EU TLFs are waaay nicer than stateside!) but as of yet it's not obeying me. As soon as I can I'll get some on here.
We have the best sponsors ever here and got here, had one of them come get us at the plane, then came "home" to crazy tasty dinner (chicken/breading/asparagus with strawberry salad and chocolate pie! And wine! Lord bless them!) Then a trip to the commissary so I could stock up on cheese and orange juice! (Those are my girls' staples) and all the other various goods needed to keep us for a week. Couldn't be more thankful! I'm trying to think of an awesome thank you gift if any of you can think of one? I could have cried when they brought in all that yummy food!
Alright, peace out America! We'll check ya later!

Monday, June 6, 2011

2 weeks. Holy smacks.

Germany has been my first choice assignment for as long as I can remember, and after a surprisingly quick decade we got it! However, the 4 short months to get ready have FLOWN by! I am a mass of excitement and anxiety. Is it worth the stress? An unequivocal yes. But am I ready? Dear Lord, I hope so! And not in vain, I mean that as a real prayer. Lord, let me be ready, let me have all the forms I'm supposed to have, let the kids think spending an entire day/night travelling is awesome, let my fellow travelers find them as precious as I do, let my husband and I be a team of superheroes, let us find someone to live here, let us find somewhere to live there, let us find my husband a car for the duration and me for a few months, let the girls make friends, let peace and joy reign supreme in our lives and let me remember that all this takes more than just prayer, but work and the adamant determination to see the glass half full. Even when I can't see the glass. Lord, thank you for the opportunity to see a new culture, to have an adventure with my family, thank you for affording a way for us to be closer to the Dutch side of our family and the girls to finally have a chance to learn proper Dutch, vs my terrible pidgeon Dutch. Or Dutlish as I like to call it :). Please help my husband and I exemplify Your love in all things, Lord. Let us teach them how to live a life of love. Even after 12 hours traveling with a toddler.