Sunday, February 8, 2009

January/February 2009

It is still very cold and grey here. We wish we had John's weather - in the 60's/70's and sunny!!! We are all doing well though. We took a trip with the chapel to the Edelweiss Resort in Garmisch, Germany. It was a quick weekend but fun. It was a retreat to try and become an even more effective military family. So, even though I had to be in classes, we made time to go swimming in the pool and play in the snow as well. 

Abi had surgery just after that. She had her adenoids removed and had her ear drums cut and the fluids drained out. She is much better now - and was very big and brave. James had had the same procedure in November, so I was prepared and was able to tell her exactly what she would go through. She informed me that we needed to have a pink cake and invite her friends over to celebrate her surgery. So, the Friday after we did just that. It was a good evening and everyone had fun. 

February is a favorite month of mine. We hope to have fun and celebrate with our friends. A Valentine Brunch is planned and a night out with the ladies for my birthday. 
We hope everyone is well. Please keep John and his unit in your prayers, and also please pray for a quick return! Take care! Miss you all!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy Holidays 2008!

Happy Holidays! 
December was a busy month - thank goodness. We had to say goodbye to John, the day after Thanksgiving, for the next year. It was harder than we thought it would be and we miss him every moment of every day. 
I was chair for the holiday party, it was a Candyland theme. So, the first two weeks were busy getting ready for that and the holidays in general. My Mom came to visit. It was great to see her and we appreciated all the help she gave us as well. As I write this, I am eating leftovers that she put in my freezer! Gotta love a Mom!!! Anyway, I think the party was a success. Just around 200 people came. The kids had a great time taking pictures, sending a video message to Daddy, playing games, and eating cake! 

On Christmas Eve Abi was making a plate of cookies for Santa and put out a few carrots for the reindeer. She counted out a carrot for Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph. She said that the other reindeer would just have to share, or they could have the magic reindeer food that we put out on the lawn - what ever they wanted. As I was putting James to sleep that night I asked him what he wanted Santa to bring him. He said that he didn't know. I asked if he wanted Elmo, Spiderman, Thomas the Train. He said no to all three. So, I asked him what did he want Santa to bring him. He said "Ummm, Doritos!" They were both very excited for Christmas Day! We had a nice Christmas day - just the 3 of us. We went to lunch at the dining facility and we had dinner at our lovely neighbor's house. 
We went to visit some friends in Heidelberg for a few days and had a great time! Abi was so happy to be with her best little friends, Cate and Ella. James had a good time playing with the girls as well. We made it back home in time for New Years Eve. We went down the street for a party and the kids stayed awake until 12:45! The custom here is to set off fireworks New Years Eve, and everyone does it. So, we watched several really nice displays from our front window. You can't get better entertainment than that! 
We wish you all a very Happy New Year! Please keep in touch - and I will do my best at keeping up the Blog in John's absence. Be sure to check out the Shutterfly link to see many more pictures!!!! 

Our November Birthday Boys!

Both of our boys have birthdays in November. John's was much quieter with just the 4 of us. The kids wanted to decorate and insisted on birthday party hats. The only ones we could find were Cars - so that is that! John was thrilled! 
James had several celebrations for his second birthday. John was away on the actual day but there was a big family event for John's work. So we went and had their faces painted and jumped on a jumpy castle. James was so excited! There was a concert that night as well, but we couldn't stay up late enough to attend. We were there for the band sound check - and they were kind enough to sing Happy Birthday to James. It was very exciting! Then we had a family birthday celebration with the Byrom's. We made Spiderman sugar cookies and James dressed up for the celebration! Then we had a birthday party for him with some of our friends from the street. That was an airplane theme. I tried my best to make an airplane birthday cake - not the best in the world - but James was excited and that is all that counts! All in all a great month for birthdays!! 

Halloween 2008

While in Barcelona on our vacation - Abi found her Halloween costume. She was a Flamenco Dancer. She was beautiful and danced all the way down the street trick-or-treating. James couldn't decide what he wanted to be. So, we ordered a Superman costume. After we placed the order he insisted that he wanted to be a dolphin. I bought some craft supplies just in case we had to make a dolphin at the last minute - but when Superman arrived he loved it! Thank goodness! They of course got too much candy - and they only visited about 20 houses! We handed out a tremendous amount of candy and had to turn kids away. It was a great night! 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All Aboard - Western Med Cruise (Sept 08)

Having spent most of the summer getting settled into our new house or working, we decided to take a well deserved break and booked a western Mediterranean cruise with our great friends Jon, Marsha, and Julia Byrom.  So four adults and three children - Abi 4, James 22 months, and Julia Byrom 16 months set off on what would be a wonderful, fun-filled adventure.

We caught our boat, The Norwegian Gem in Barcelona, Spain and spent the first real day of vacation sailing in the Mediterranean to the island of Malta.  Early on the second morning Jon and I got up early and watched us sail into the port of Valletta, Malta at sunrise.  Looking over our pictures from that morning only confirms how incredible this port call was - complete with Turkish architecture from the 1500s and the European-style fortification built in the centuries following.  We were only able to spend a couple of hours in Malta's capital but it was enough to make us all hope to return to this unique island again one day.
Our next stop was the port of Naples, Italy where we decided to split our  time between Pompei and Sorrento.  Walking the streets of Pompei was surreal.  From the frescos painted on the wall to the temples of Venus and Apollo, the level of preservation was stunning.  I highly recommend it to anyone able to travel in Southern Italy.  Then a short cab ride with Lelo - our Italian cab driver for the day - we savored an incredible lunch in Sorrento... mussels, gnoche, pizza, chianti.  Cosi buon!
Our third stop was Civitavecchia which allowed us to train into Rome.  In Rome for the afternoon we toured the city in an open-topped bus typical in most European cities.  As with Malta, seeing the antiquities of Rome only encourages our planning for future travels in Italy.

Our last stop in Italy was Livorno which put us a 20 min bus ride from Pisa.  This was the only day it rained and we decided to brave our way through it.  Soaked to the bone, we still managed to pose in front of the leaning tower, find fine Italian leather purses for the ladies, and eat an incredible Tuscan-style lunch.  The kids were just happy to play with the 3 euro umbrellas we bought in a futile attempt to stay dry.

Our final stop on the cruise was on the French Riviera and Monoco.  It is perfectly clear why the rich and famous spend so much time in this beautiful part of the France.       

If interested, follow the link to our photo album to see more pictures of our cruise and the places we visited.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Abi's Spring Dance Recital

Last Friday Abi had her second and last dance recital with her dance group in Mannheim.  Despite costumes which were a little too much like "Little Miss Sunshine" for her Dad to handle, the recital was great fun.  (Luckily the person who sewed the costume tops didn't realize that when one stitches fringe onto elastic that if the elastic isn't stretched, then it looses its elasticity.  Thus, very few of the girls could actually fit into the tops and Abi now has a fringy top to dress up her baby dolls that cost her Dad $50.)   

The dance recital included both a tap and a ballet routine.   It was amazing to watch 3 and 4 year olds get up on stage.   The evening ended with each little girl receiving flowers and a trophy.  Abi was so proud of her trophy that she told Amanda that she thought we should display it in our curio cabinet - too cute.  Follow the photo album link on the right of the page to see a few more pictures  and we hope that everyone enjoys this small clip from the recital.   (Sorry about the poor resolution but I couldn't get anything better to post... I'm still learning how this whole blog thing works.)      

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Castles of the Neckar River Valley

Several weekends ago we took advantage of a beautiful spring afternoon and did some exploring here in the Neckar River valley.  We drove about 20 minutes from our home to the cities of Dilsberg and Neckarsteinach where five castle ruins remain nestled on the river's banks.  

Dislberg, Germany is a fortress city which sits a top of a small mountain - hence the "berg" in its name.  The walled city complete with castle ruins will celebrate  its 800th anniversary this year.  (To offer some perspective, Dilsberg existed for over 300 years before the Iroquois formed the League of Nations in what is  now the U.S.)  The very small city is complete with cobble stone streets and walled defenses.  It was amazing to walk around and see people still living within the city walls.  One of the most impressive  views of the city from our second stop of the
 afternoon Necharsteinach.                        

Necharsteinach, Germany is a small city with four castles, with two accessible to the public.  To get to each castle ruin we walked along some well-traveled walking trails and despite the age of the ruins, we were able to climb up and into the existing towers.  Hintersburg (pictured below with one central tower) originated in the 12th century and was closest to the river.  Schadeck (ruins pictured below with two towers) was started in the 13th century and a 15 minute walk from Hintersburg.  You can see from the picture that between 100 years and about 1 kilometer, architecture took a huge leap.