Jul 29, 2011

"Uh............"

Yesterday during my victorious visit to the Legal office I was asked a list of fairly easy questions:
Name: no problem I nailed this one.
Social: check
Children's Names: on it
Children's Date of Birth: easy peasy
Guardian: Blam
Address of yourself and guardian: kachow
State of legal residency: uh.............

I was speechless. Matt is still a resident of California. However, I have always become a resident of the state we were living in with the exception of Alabama and Tennessee - I have standards.
I haven't lived in California in forever, and since I'm not the one in the military the military clause doesn't exactly apply to me. I'm not a resident of Virginia anymore either because, although the great Commonwealth of Virginia holds a piece of my heart, they don't seem to want to claim me as a resident.
I'm an alien.
Since Virginia was so kind to grant me a waiver authorizing me to carry a Virginia license although I don't reside there, I decided I would go with Virginia.
After a long pause and quizzical look on my face, I replied "Virginia".
But, my answer sounded more like a question and the clerk looked at me suspiciously.
"Yep final answer, Virginia" based on the license thing and the fact that I'm deathly afraid of claiming California residency for the California State Tax Franchise Board will start knocking on my door requesting a whole bunch of money.
I need to get a clearer understanding of this residency thing before elections!

Jul 27, 2011

Being of sound mind and pressed for time....

I, Clarissa, currently of Mannheim but realistically from all over the US except Alabama - that was just a pit stop and I'm not claiming it - do hereby whilst still being of sound mind submit the following as a last Will and Testament:
The kids, bills, dirty house, piles of boxes, cars, any back taxes or future lottery winnings and anything else that may be attached to our name will go to Katina and Tom unless they find some way to prove they can't possibly take on my rascals in which case Tom and Mika get it all.
Whew. I hope this holds up in court.
Neither Matt nor I have an actual Will. I can't believe we have had kids for almost 9 years and didn't bother to do a Will. I know, I know, we need to do that. It isn't that we think we are invincible, its just that we are lazy and don't want to take the time to sit in the legal office for who knows how long waiting to get some paperwork printed off and notarized.
It is now officially on my to-do list....just after registering the van and filling out that 40 page application (which I have had for 1 year) to be a substitute teacher.
While I haven't made any real steps toward a legit will, I did obtain a temporary guardianship power of attorney for Mika today. I was entirely too excited about this accomplishment. Basically, the sheet of paper gives Mika the authority to care for the kids in my absence. I needed this little gem because Matt and I are off to Crete on Sunday and if the boys get a tummy ache or need to sign up for the next session of swim lessons, Mika needs some form of paperwork to do so. What is super cool about my guardianship POA is that is also authorizes Mika to travel with my kids "from Germany to California". I told her she was welcome to take them on a trip any time. Just swing by and get the passports, don't forget the POA and they can be on their way!
It is a little step, but I feel great about remembering to do it, doing it, and giving it to her. It is the small things that can really turn your day around.

mi-phone

My iphone is old. It is a first generation original and it is on its very last morsel of life. I'm the third owner of this phone and it is in remarkably great condition considering I have used it for two years. I destroy cameras every other year and typically have a bad track record with phones as well.
I don't know what happened to it. I didn't drop it (recently) and it has never been submerged in coffee. I didn't leave it in the window of my car on a 100 degree day and Matt most definitely did not run it over with the van. I would like to say that those are entirely made up ways that a phone of mine has died, but in fact I did have a phone die by each of those methods. So, this phone is actually on its way to the electronic junk yard due to natural causes, aka being old.
My phone doesn't recognize my fingers about half the time, which makes the possibility of me answering my phone about slim to none. It also has this super irritating pop up that says "this accessory is not made to work with the iphone" however there is no accessorily plugged into it. The message itself isn't so irritating. It is thoughtful actually, in that it offers me the option of turning my phone on to "airplane mode to reduce audio interference". What is irritating is that it pops up all the time. I can't text, check messages, check my calendar or even get to my contacts without the popup. Everything takes me at least four times longer than it should because I have to continue to disregard the accessory bubble every 5 seconds. And lastly, the phone randomly decides to think it isn't charged even though it is. I charged it for 2 hours and pulled it off the charger and it reported that I had 2% battery life left. Huh? The phone freezes, then I have to shut the little guy down, wait for the white Apple screen to disappear, restart and like magic the battery is back at 99%.
Why do I still have this phone you ask? Because it is unlocked. This means I can slip a sim card from any country into it and just like that I am operating on the local telephone network. Awesome. When I go back to the States I stop by the first t-mobile kiosk I see, buy a new phone number with $10 worth of talk time and off I go. When I am home in Germany, I have a German sim card and number and I can just keep adding minutes as needed. Perfect. It doesn't have internet capabilities unless I can grab someone's wifi, which I usually can when we travel.
So, I deal with the popups, moody touch screen, and temperamental battery life until I decide to take the plunge and pay a million dollars a month for an iphone with a service plan.
Maybe when it rings its last ring and plays its last song I can donate it to Apple for their museum of dinosauric electronic devices. I'm just sure this is one of the last first generation iphones in use!

Jul 24, 2011

Numbers

The number of soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines killed in action in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn: 6,103
The number of soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines wounded in action in both operations combined: 44,596.
Number of military men and women currently deployed to one of these conflicts: over 140,000.
Service members deployed to one of these regions since 2001: Over 1 million.

One Wish

God came to Solomon in a dream and told him to ask for the one thing he desired from God. Solomon's response was pleasing to God. He said "Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil." Of all the things Solomon could have asked for, wealth, power, glory, long life or love, he asked for wisdom. Perhaps the fact that he asked for wisdom proves that he was indeed already wise.
In so many ways, like Solomon, we are just children in this world and what we need more than financial blessings, power, glory or earthly love is an understanding heart and discernment.
I pray this gift of wisdom for myself and for my family. I pray that I will have wisdom as I continue to raise my boys, instilling in them a set of moral values and Biblical beliefs, in the choices I make daily, and in the big decisions that Matt and I make for our family.

Jul 19, 2011

Catching Up

Wait, have I already used that title?
School got out on June 16th and we were on the road to Austria. We teamed up with the Mlacks for this journey and drove 4 hours to Salzburg for our first stop on the 1600km adventure. We spent the night and the next day in Salzburg and then continued on to Vienna. Both of the cities were just places to roam about with not too many "must-see's". We did spend some time in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna and caught a hour of the opera "The Magic Flute" at the Vienna opera house. Vienna is quite possibly the prettiest, cleanest city I have visited. I didn't love it, and don't feel the need to go back, but it was really quite nice.
Upon our return from Austria we had a busy week with local activities, the RitterSport Chocolate Factory visit, a trip to the pool with friends, and Matt and I and our friends Marty and Angela enjoyed a lovely evening with Sir Elton John. He was in concert right here in Mannheim and we couldn't resist. I must say, it was a great show. He is old but he can still jam!
The following week the boys started summer school. Every time I say "summer school" I get corrected with "summer enrichment". I'm not sure what the difference is, but basically the boys went to class for 3 hours each day to learn a little and mainly just keep busy.
The first days of July were filled with mixed emotions. I had to say goodbye my good friend Darlene and my "up and coming" friend Rebecca. Darlene was the first friend I had here in Germany and is definitely a dear one. She is one of the ladies whom I met with each week for bible study. She lived right around the corner from me and we saw each other and chatted almost every single day of the last 2 years. Rebecca and I just recently became friends but she is a special lady and I wish we had more time together. To make the sad goodbye even worse, these two ladies each had a son Eli's age. Eli had to say goodbye to his two very best friends in the history of all time and say farewell to a special circumstance. We live in a compound of 100 houses. It is gated, and the only way in is past two sets of guards. The boys were safe. And because of this compound lifestyle, they were free to play for hours between all three of the houses. During the last few months the other boys' toys were packed and shipped so our house became very popular. I must say, even though it got crazy in here with all the boys running around, they are the most respectful, wonderful boys and I am also going to miss them.
Hours after saying goodbye to our friends, our family jumped on a flight to Croatia. Yeah a country not using the Euro! We stayed in Pula and took a day trip to Rovinj. We spent half of our days in the city roaming around and the rest of the day enjoying the cool waters of the Adriatic. I loved Rovinj and have placed it way up there on my favorite places list!
July has flown by. We got back on the 5th, had a pool day a day later, and had a fancy schmancy ball on the 9th. It was fun to get all fancy and go dancing. I finally realized that I just don't really have fancy in me. You can put me in a fancy dress and shoes and even do my nails but the up-do and glam make-up just looks odd on me so I just look like plain old me in a fancy dress. That being said, we had a good time.
The boys started playing summer baseball this month as well. It is German baseball. If that sounds weird, it should. Germans don't really play baseball so this is a fun opportunity for Eli and Gabe to play. The coach is the American coach that has worked with Eli the last two seasons of little league. He speaks impeccable German, so he decided to teach German kids how to play and use the American kids to help show them how it is done. Not a lot of games going on but good practice and a good opportunity.
Matt left of Italy last week doing some thing official, however, he did go to Venice on a completely unofficial trip. I guess it is the perk of being forced to hang out in Italy for a week. You work a lot and get to sight-see a little. Not to bad if you ask me.
Since this installation is closing down, our resources here are diminishing and the "friend" population is as well. Mika and I decided to sign the kids up for swim lessons...in Ramstein which is an hour away. The lessons are two days a week for just 4 weeks, so we make a day of it and head up the hill. Their first lessons were today, and I was pleased with the organization and teaching. Only 7 more trips to go.
The kids finish summer enrichment this week and then comes that long stretch of summer where we don't have much planned. Matt and I are going to Crete the first few days of August, without the kids! We are excited for a kid-free venture. Eli also has a great opportunity coming up in August. He will be attending a Christian Evangelism Fellowship camp in Switzerland. I can't believe we are sending him off, alone, to the Swiss Alps for a week. OK, so he isn't alone, but it will be his first time ever going somewhere without a member of at least his extended family. I'm praying that it is a great time for him.
That's it. Nothing fancy, nothing funny, not even anything thought provoking. Do I dare say that I'll try and blog again soon? I don't know. We'll see.