Nov 24, 2009

Wanted: Grocery Bagger

I have serious issues with grocery baggers. Why do I always get the bagger who thinks a great place for canned goods is on top of my bread? Who is really strong enough to carry 18 cans, a gallon of milk, eggs and a loaf of bread in one grocery bag? I strongly dislike grocery shopping. There are a few reasons why I loath the task: a. I rarely make lists which means I have to go twice to get the things I need. b. I get really frustrated when there has been a run on something random like chicken broth or mini marshmellows. I would understand if the store was just plumb out of turkeys the day before Thanksgiving but marshmellows? c. The baggers drive me insane.
I would rather bag my own groceries, return the groceries to my cart without being bagged (Costco style) or splash spicy Enchilada Soup in my EYE than have my groceries bagged by incompetent baggers.
Recently, I moved my chips out of the way of bagger destruction THREE times before we got out to the car. When we arrived at the van, the bagger actually ran into my van with the cart before he grabbed the bag of chips and smashed them against the case of Coke.
Isn't there a bagger school? Surely there is at lease a youtube video.
One day, everything will be right in the world and my bread will make it home in the shape of a loaf and the cans won't be sitting on top of the bananas. One day. . . . .

Nov 23, 2009

So Busy

On Tuesday, November 17th my sister, brother-in-law, and nieces arrived in Frankfurt at 9:20am. I arrived at 10:00am, late as usual, to pick them up. Their plane was due in at 9:45 and it should take 45 minutes to get to the airport so I left at 8:45 - plenty of time. HOWEVER, I was stuck in traffic forever and then got lost/stuck in the parking garage for 15 minutes. So, I was late.
We were supposed to meet at the "Meeting Point". Easy enough? I went to the meeting point but apparently they were hiding behind their luggage because I didn't see them. After roaming for awhile and contemplating getting a coffee, I went back to the meeting point and found them behind a tower of purple luggage. Oops.
To make matters worse for tired travelers, I couldn't figure out how to get us from the terminal to the confusing parking garage, so I dumped them at the curb, in the rain, and went solo to find the van. Sometime around 11 we were actually in the van on our way home. Nice way to kick off a vacation.
Bright and early the next morning . . . who am I kidding it wasn't bright - the sun was still snuggled sweetly somewhere over East Asia when we got up at 3:30am to leave for (drumroll please) ROME, Italy. We spent three very full days in Rome and returned to Frankfurt around midnight Saturday morning. After catching some much needed zzzz's and eating a home cooked breakfast we headed down to Rothenburg to "ooh" and "aah" over its charming little cuteness. We also enjoyed the tastiest pastry thing ever, a schneeball. Yum. The cappuccino flavored one was so insanely delicious. Sunday we went to church and opted for a lazy afternoon and then today we went to Heidelberg to walk around, do some shopping, and enjoy the charm of this modern yet adorable old town.
And here I am now, at 11:30pm yawning and resisting the urge to face-plant into the keyboard. I've been a little busy.
Thursday morning, we leave for Paris. No Thanksgiving bird and stuffing for us! Instead we plan to have some French cuisine and then take in the city from the heights of the Eiffel Tower.
I better get to bed!

Nov 14, 2009

Family Photos

Click here to view these pictures larger

Good News Bad News

The Storage Room
Good News: I moved all of our totes and boxes to another storage area and converted our storage room into guest quarters/playroom. My sister and brother-in-law will be the first guests to try out the room and the boys are really looking forward to using their noisy indoor play area when the room isn't being used for guests.
Bad News: My request for a permanent additional storage area was declined. I've jumped through hoops, have remnants of red tape all over me and agreed to pay to have locks changed out for the additional room - and still I was denied use of one of the 4 empty storage rooms in our building. So, while the storage area that houses our totes and boxes right now is a decent temporary fix, if more people move into this stairwell we'll have to move it back into our storage area and the situation isn't exactly ideal. Thankfully, our only other neighbors in this stairwell are fabulous and don't mind our stuff being where it is.
Free Trainer
Good News: I went to the gym yesterday to take a cardio circuit training class. The class is about 10 people strong and is led by a personal trainer. The workout is FREE and the class time is early enough in the morning that Matt should be able to watch the boys while I go. The workout was so hard. And I have done pilates, spin, yoga, body pump, free weights and machines. This one was hard! And that is a good thing.
Bad News: my body is only operating at about 50% today because I am so sore from that great workout.
Good News: all things point to Mika and Tom moving to Mannheim! The timing is as close to perfect as possible for them. They should have about 6 months to get their house sold and get everything in order to move here. This will be a great change of pace for them and fabulous for us to be together again. Yeah!
Bad News: Well, bad news for us - they won't be here until May. It seems so far away.
Good News: two of my friends and I went shopping yesterday at this store that sells stuff acquired through estate sales. I bought a super fabulous bookshelf type thing for €70 (about $100).
Bad News: I feel the need to go back and shop there for all my furniture needs.
Shrum Visit
Good News: my sister and family are coming to visit in just a few days. We are going to Rome, Paris, and fun places around here.
Bad News: my sister and family are coming to visit in just a few days and we are going to Rome, Paris, and fun places around here . . . and I'm not ready!! So much to do, clean house, do laundry, grocery shop, pack for Rome, get a small fortune in euros for Rome ....
Family Photos
Good News: We had our family pictures taken in Heidelberg last week. They turned out really great. We are so happy with them.
Bad News: I have to pick which ones I want and order them - soon because in just a few days I'll be busy (see Visit above).

Nov 9, 2009

This is not a test.

I remember practicing fire drills when I was in school. I loved them. Total class disruption for at least 20 minutes was my idea of a good day at school.
Eli had a few different types of drills at his school in VA. He had the typical fire drill where everyone orderly leaves the building and he had a severe weather drill where the kids all went into interior corridors away from windows. He also had a security drill where the kids were to stay in their room and the whole place went on a lock-down. This would be used in case of a nearby threat to their security, like when the Wendy's down the street was robbed.
Here at the Mannheim elementary school he has practiced so many drills I can't keep track. There is the usual fire, weather, and lock-down and then they also have one for evacuation of the building and transportation to a secure facility close by. Eli knows the codes for all of these, I don't.
Today the kids' practice paid off. A bomb threat was found at the school, and the children did exactly what they had practiced. They evacuated the building, made their way to the secure facility. Various agencies converged upon the school and once it was cleared, the kids returned.
I don't know if the kids knew this was not a test or not. I think they are so used to all the drills they just go with it and, like me, are grateful for the diversion. It makes me a little sad that Eli will grow up with security drills in school, but I'm really glad the school had the forethought to have these drills.
While this situation ended peacefully, it is a reminder of the world we live in. There is evil in places that we once considered safe, school, churches, military installations. I could live in fear, but I will not. Christ proclaimed that He came to give me peace through Him and he said "in the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
In a few minutes I will go pick up Eli for school, force him to give me a big hug, and then watch him play in the leaves in yard.

Nov 8, 2009

German Church

Matt and I visited Calvary Chapel Heidelberg in early September and after he left for Romania the boys and I continued to attend services there.
It is definitely a different experience. Most of the people who attend are German. I'm sure that many of the Germans who attend CCH understand and speak a little English, but I rarely hear English being spoken in the lobby.
Here is how the service works:
Welcome: is in German and translated into English
Prayer: German to English
Worship: some songs are German, some are English no translation.
Message: the pastor is German but he speaks fluent English and actually preaches in English and then the message is translated into German.
Scripture: bible verses are read in German only, and English speakers just read in their own bible.
Final prayer and dismissal: German- no translation.

The whole translation thing makes for a LONG service. The church I attended for the past 4 years lasted about an hour and 15 minutes. This service is almost twice as long and is usually 2 hours. Though it takes twice as long to preach the message, since it is actually spoken twice, translation can be hilarious.
Today a man was translating into English for about 15 minutes while two ladies were talking about their mission trip to India. Then the pastor came on stage and started speaking in English and the translator forgot to switch to German and ended up just repeating what pastor said in English. Chuckles all around. Pastor looked at him and said "in Deutsch". The guy turned red he was so embarrassed.
Sometimes things get lost in translation or sound really funny in English or in German but get no response from the other crowd. You can tell who is listening to what by the timing of laughter.

The worship experience is really amazing. I try to read the German and, with my best Deutsch pronunciation, sing along but sometimes it is so beautiful to just listen to my singing German neighbors. When the worship songs are in English, the number of people singing doesn't change they can sing equally well in German and English.

The boys have a similar experience downstairs. They are either separated into German and English classrooms or the kids are all in one room and there is a translator. Eli gets a little frustrated with the time it takes to translate, but Gabe seems to be doing fine and is learning quite a bit in class.

If you come visit it us Germany, you'll have to come to church to experience a multi-cultural service for yourself.

Nov 7, 2009

That silly Gabe

Gabe and I stopped by our clinic last week to pick up a prescription. Since the clinic is filled with sick people, I was hyper-aware of everything that Gabe touched, leaned on, or breathed in. I stopped short of wrapping his hands in ziplock baggies and having him don a mask. However as soon as we left the clinic I got out the hand sanitizer and after bathing myself in it, I handed it to Gabe.
This is the conversation that took place:

"Gabe put some of this on real quick"
"Put some of this on"
"What does that mean?"
"oh, is that what it means in German?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Putsomeofthison. Is that German?"

This happens quite often these days. Any time the boys don't know what I said, they assume it is German and ask for a translation.

Nov 1, 2009

Could it actually happen???

August 28, 2002 - Hail and Farewell at the company commander's house in Clarksville, Tn. I am 40 weeks pregnant with Eli and overdue. Matt and I are officially "hailed" into the company at the same time as a newly engaged couple Tom and Mika. I was excited that Mika was from Tacoma, those of us in a "West Coast state of mind" need to stick together. Meanwhile, Katina is at my house watching Big Brother and accidentally calling 9-1-1 twice. The "1" stuck on my phone creating a challenge to dial "916".
November 28th or 29th 2002 (it is a blur)- Matt, Eli and I attend Mika and Tom's wedding. Mika and Tom exchanged wedding vows in front of a big screen TV in our friend's living room. Mika wore a purple skirt. Two things I haven't seen her wear since.
February 2003 - we play monopoly at our house for the first time. An event that would repeat monthly, sometimes weekly. The attire turned to semi-formal jammies, which meant even if you don't normally wear jammies to sleep in, they were still required for game-night.
February 28, 2003 - Tom and Matt leave for Iraq and an unbreakable bond begins forming.
The months that followed provided a lot of time and experiences for Tom and Matt and Mika and I to develop a bond like no other. When the guys got back from Iraq our friendships grew even stronger and the four of us became great pals.
Spring of 2005 - Matt left for Korea and Tom went to Alabama for a school. Our fab foursome was broken up.
Over the next year Mika helped me move to Virginia, I came back to Clarksville to visit her when Madison was born, and then after she moved to GA we each made the 9 hour drive back and forth between Savannah and Woodbridge to visit each other at least a few times.
May 2006 - Mika, Tom, and Madison moved to Washington. No more road trips to visit each other.
I feared that this was the end of our relationship, but I was so wrong. We made it to Washington to visit them 2 times, saw them in California twice, met up for a Cruise once, and they came to see us in Virginia at least 3 or 4 times. About every six months we were together again.
July 2009 - Matt and I betray Tom and Mika and voluntarily leave the country. Mika tries not to hate me, I try not to think about the fact that we won't see each other for at least another 18 months to 2 years.
This week I found out that Tom and Mika are working on details for a move to Mannheim,Germany! Could this actually happen? Could our fab four re-unite and tour Europe together? Could we have game night, girls night and guys night?
Unfortunately, a difficult turn of events catapulted Tom, Mika, Madison, and soon-to-be Baby Mlack into an unexpected PCS, but I am so excited that we may be together again and praying that the move - wherever it may be- will go smoothly and every last detail will be taken care of.
Hopefully, we'll find out soon if we will have new neighbors!