One of the many things that makes Germany so amazing are its beer festivals. Sandkerwa is Bamberg's annual festival where all the regional brewers set up tents and sell beers, brats, and even a little wine. It's freaking awesome.
Did I mention the beer?!
We had a blast! Even little r had fun eating brats and doing a boogie to an Elvis song (haha, yeah, that was pretty comical). We also found out our son has a serious arm on him as he proudly said "cheers" with his sippy cup and my glass full of a fantabulous hefeweisen broke into a dozen pieces - no joke! The vendor next to us made a motion with his hands like this happens all too often...well, probably not with a toddler's cup!
We're taking names for who wants to join us next year :) That is, as long as you can handle this goofy bunch.
After a week of watching the landlord, his daughter, and a friend put the pieces if the puzzle together, we have a pretty little kitchen. Still some parts missing and extras we have no clue where they go, but it works!
Made the family a yummy Sunday breakfast of Swedish pancakes, eggs, and French press coffee.
Last month cell phones, this month kitchen, next month Internet?
The little bear is sleeping soundly, a load of laundry is hung up on the clothesline (a method I've picked up from my German neighbors that the environmentalist in me loves), an hour of yoga practice is completed, and I'm finding myself reminiscing about what an amazing day I've already had this fine Friday.
Living so close to the Army post means we get to enjoy breakfast together as a family almost every morning. Little r wakes some time before 7 a.m. and Big R doesn't have to be in the office until 9. This is a far cry from the hussle and bussle mornings we were accustomed to in Virginia.
This morning was especially lovely because the sun was out, and the air was still crisp making it a pleasant time to sit out on our porch together to enjoy the view and drink a cup of jo (and a cup-o-milch alla sippy cup).
Big R walked his bike as we followed behind on the stroller with pup in tow as we headed for our favorite local backerie or bakery. Big R headed east towards the office and we took a nice morning stroll along the river. Puppy even got an early morning dip.
Inspired by the beautiful day, I packed up little r in his swimsuit and loaded him onto the bike for a mini-adventure. The town adjacent to ours claims to have a freibad or outdoor pool, and it had our name written all over it this fine morning, that is, as long as I could find it! Believe it or not (and I'm still shocked at this fact) I found it easily, just didn't quite anticipate so many hills. Mommy got a workout this morning as she cranked her legs up each inch - ok, so maybe I had to walk the last hill, but it was seriously a mountain and little r adds some weight, so give me a break, people.
We made it to the freibad and after my mountainous bike ride, I couldn't have been more ready for a cool dip. It was such an amazing little place. The Germans do everything well. The environment was beautiful, the setup was perfect, and the price was right (der kinder kosten nicht and my ticket was only 3.50 EUR).
I think we could have stayed all day if the fair-skinned child and his mom would have been able to handle the sun for more than a couple hours. Despite not wanting to leave, little r let me pull him away without too much of a fight. He coasted quietly on the back of my bike as we headed home (only got lost once - I swear). Bye-bye, schwimmbad...
We shared some lunch and watched a little Nemo before little r headed off to dreamland.
If this is a snapshot of my life here, pinch me because I might just be dreaming. I know I will get restless without work before long, and there are prospects in the pipeline, but it is my goal to enjoy this precious time with my family until it's time to return to the working world. Instead, I will have a cold brew in hand for Big R as he walks through the door because I know this has been a very busy week in legal defense world.
Happy Friday everyone! I hope our friends and family in Richmond, DC, and in New England fair hurricane Irene unscathed. You'll be in our thoughts!
This is a picture of a beautiful garden just down the street. The impressive thing is that this is typical here. The Germans are phenomenal with gardens and greenery. Every home has a small yard that is flourishing with flowers and bountiful vegetables. The people here take pride in growing all of their summer meals. Suppose it helps that the weather is perfect for growing almost any vegetable imaginable.
All this greenery is inspiring me to better develop my green thumb. The thumb that is more of a tinge of yellow instead if green. The extent of my ability to grow things from soil includes house plants and sometimes I get lucky planting the right perennials outdoors. We have this amazing porch that has so much space and sunlight to create a miniature garden. This is what we gave planted thus far...
Hopefully my German experience will teach me how to go beyond three hanging planters. They are pretty though, no?
We started off the day early so that I could get to post and take the dreaded driving test. Somehow this little miss walked away an authorized driver - look out Germany!
Things wrapped up earlier than expected, so Big R suggested I have a little adventure and explore on my own. I grabbed a bus ride into town and began my touristy stroll through one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
After I had a "crepe with charm," which was easily the best dish I've ever received from a cart, I headed over to the Rathaus or townhall. It is one of the most photographed buildings here and you can see why.
The town also has many churches and most were built near the turn of the millennium. This town was somehow spared distruction during the two world wars, so these churches are still in original form. I took a circuitous route through town and saw 5 of these amazing churches. I don't generally consider myself religious, yet I felt a holy presence inside these ancient structures.
After multiple attempts at getting lost, I finally reached the Dom. It can be seen from anywhere in the city due to its prominent steeples. Yet somehow I walked circles around the place. I blame the heat...
The Dom was built in 1007. I still can't get my head around that. The structure is actually quite simple and plain inside its doors but its history is anything but... It was a hot August day and I wasn't dressed or prepared for it. When I finally reached the Dom I found water and relaxed in the courtyard. Big R was taking little r on the boo bus to join me.
Here a couple more pictures I took of this sweet German town.
We found ourselves at a biergarten, of course, and experienced our first rauchbier, or smoked beer. It is the beer of this region so we had to give it a try despite that it smelled like an ashtray. Not a huge fan, but that of course did not stop me from a pint or two.
After a couple pints and some local cuisine we worked our way home along my favorite stretch of town the locals call "little Venice."
So, the kitchen is finally here. Kind of. The pieces arrived and have exploded all over our apartment.
Nothing to fear is what I'm sure my landlords want us to think and yet the situation appears somewhat grim at the moment.
The kitchen came in about 6 or 7 neat boxes including the pretty appliances. The mystery is how this mess fits together. We are all clueless and the many boxes were missing what I believe even Germans would find essential - instructions!
My landlords return first thing tomorrow to tackle the monstrous puzzle that will transform into my pretty little kitchen.
This was our project today. We have this amazing wraparound porch that we closed in ever so slightly to create a tad bit of privacy and to contain our wild little zoo. We also put up a few flower boxes. What we didn't expect was pure tranquility...
Quite literally one of the most difficult adjustments has been living without a kitchen. It's doable, obviously, but it never occurred to me how useful and convenient a kitchen can be. Rumor has it our kitchen could be on its way as soon as Monday. In the meantime we have gotten exceptionally good at using our large European bath tub to do the dishes and we get creative eating fresh foods and using our handy microwave. I realize there are so many more foods I could create without the need for a stove, etc., but darnit (this is where I stomp my foot like a 5-year-old) I don't want to be creative, I just want my pretty little kitchen.
Here is the space where our kitchen will be installed:
Yep, just an empty room. I wasn't joking when I said the Germans take everything with them including the kitchen sink. Our apartment is quickly becoming a home despite missing a few somewhat essential elements. This is the dining area that is serving as our make-shift kitchen at the moment:
Not too shabby. Big R gets the credit for setting up the other rooms in our house. These pictures hardly do this place the justice it deserves. It's difficult to illustrate the vast open spaces and brilliant light our many picture windows create. It'll be more fun to photograph once it becomes more complete. This will give you a taste of what's to come.
Here is the family room area:
The sitting and reading room:
And the chic bedroom:
I get just a few kudos for little r's space:
All in all it's a lovely and very cozy home. We were very lucky to find this place and Big R is my hero for making sure it became ours.
1. Cry uncontrollably for at least an hour. When your cat is trying to find the courage to come home, it will promptly remember the guilt of listening to you sob. Besides, it just makes you feel better. 2. Fumble through broken German as you attempt to tell your neighbors why you look like a mad woman crawling around looking through bushes and around other people's homes. When they tell you that cats disappear all the time in your neighborhood, try not to panic or show any alarm. 3. Search enough times a day to convince your landlord that you really don't believe her that the cat will come home. You might be lucky enough to have a landlord like mine who is the nicest person on the planet. 4. Post something on Facebook or other social media about losing your cat. Not always the greatest idea to air laundry to the public, but in this case it's necessary. All your amazing family and friends will tell you words of encouragement and advice so you don't lose hope that the kitty will come back. 5. Make the hubby dress up in his army uniform and crawl on hands and knees through the brush calling for your cat. Might do nothing less than provide amusement, but laughter is essential at times like these. 6. In reference to #5, make some sort of normal gestures and be sure to waive nicely to the neighbors so they don't think your hubby is about to declare war or is a not-so-secret spy. 7. Be sure that you are barely out of the shower (because you finally found time to take one in 3 days) when the landlord knocks on your door to tell you about her idea to post the verlauchen katze in the local paper. Again, nicest lady ever and completely unphased that I was half- naked. 8. Have the hubby go to the nearest tierheim and provide a look of desperation through the fence when the building is closed. Germans are nice and will actually help you when you need someone. 9. When you hear the cat cry from the exact bush you knew she'd be hiding in, drop all the groceries and climb through the thorns and brush until you're bleeding, and then make the hubby lay on the ground and crawl to her. Let's face it, he'll heal faster than you will. He also has a longer reach when the cat decides that scooting away from you is the most effective method to getting saved. 10. And finally, be sure to tell the other cat that his search radius does not need to include the entire town. You can come home mow Sergeant. We have Lucy safe inside...
1. Traveling overseas with a cat and a toddler is a challenge even for the most independent.
2. Keeping a toddler awake and exhausting him by running around the airport is not a guarantee that he will sleep on the flight.
3. 8+ hours is too long for a cat to go without pooping and airplane bathrooms are very small for big messes.
4. United does not get high priority at Frankfurt International Airport and air stairs are exciting with a toddler and a car seat (and a cat that just pissed herself).
5. Germans are sehr freundlich and they love kids, dogs, and beer.
6. Germans do not kid around with their driving - holy crap 100 mph is fast!
7. Living without a kitchen can make you creative.
8. Our little town is quaint and beautiful and our home is cozy and chic.
9. I have gotten far too comfortable with needing the Internet and a phone - iPhones are pretty cool afterall.
10. Big R is the greatest husband in the world and my old puppy is going to retire in style.
This little guy has been quite the trooper during this transitional phase. Not being quite two years old, I can't imagine he has any clue what is going on. All he knows is that his Daddy and his puppy went "to work" and haven't come home in a long time, and that some men came and took everything out of his house. I suppose watching the world you have come to know disappear all around you could be a little unsettling, even at two years old.
When we got to my dad's house, little r made the decision that I was not allowed to leave his sight. Clingy is putting it lightly. Mommy needed to stay "here," and there was no arguing about that! He also very quickly taught himself how to crawl out of his pack-n-play. This was not something I had prepared myself for, but then again, most of what little r does every day, I could never prepare myself for.
It's been a challenge - I'm not going to say it's been rough, because I am honestly blessed with an amazing child. He laughs at everything and generally enjoys every bit of life, and he's so freaking cute I can hardly stand it. That said, this week has been a handfull for us both. The transition was a lot to take in for the little guy, and couple that with getting sick and having a fever, and you have a perfect storm. He felt like crap, refused to eat, and went on a nap strike, so he was exhausted and overtired. Bedtime has become a marathon event - battle of the wills! Mommy always prevails but not after a valiant effort from the little man. Mornings come early, but I have yet to learn and won't get myself into bed until I've answered emails, checked the 'ol social network on Facebook, and read a few pages in my book.
I had a list of a million things I wanted to do this final week here in the States thinking I'd have all this free time. HA! That makes me laugh to think about that. I rewrote my list, and just looking at it, I realized I have as one of my important "must do's" as "Read Book." Seriously, people, am I ridiculous or what?! I have to remind myself to read my book because I want to finish it before I leave on Monday. The friend that lent it to me read it in two days. I think I'm on week 3. Ah well... The list of important things is all relevant. Frankly, if none of it gets done before Monday, we all know I'll live to tell you about it.
The past week has been a big blur. Each day nothing shy of an adventure. The days leading up to the movers packing up the last of our things were bitter sweet. There were a lot of good-byes and anxious moments trying to take care of the final details, but there were also many surprising treats in the mix. I started doing yoga every day as a way to give back to myself. It was also a time that little r could enjoy playing at the gym daycare with other kids while mommy got some much needed exercise for her mind and body. This is something I hope to continue from this point forward to keep myself healthy and balanced. I had no idea how much I was going to need this little bit of centering to make it through the next week.
It wasn't all work and no play, in fact, little r and I had many a dance party in our empty living room, and watched the movie "Cars" (the new favorite) a dozen times in just a few days. Little r was also able to embellish his infatuation with tractors at the Children's Museum:
The play had to end (momentarily) when the movers came and we had to get the house ready for our big move. Per usual nothing happens as planned, so it was good that I was ready for anything. The moving company had scheduled to be at the house around 8 a.m., which quickly became 3 p.m. Yes, apparently 7 hours is nothing in the moving and packing world. They did miraculously finish packing and loading our things in only a couple hours, but that left the rest of the chores for me to take care of late into the evening. Little r was the best assistant EVER as he helped me sweep and mop all of the floors after the movers made a huge mess of things. Got him tucked into bed and got everything packed up and tossed out so that we could leave first thing in the morning. My mother-in-law's car is awesome, but it's also "little" so I had to use my creative graces (of which we all know I have none) to pack all of our luggage and things to get them up to D.C. We always miss getting photographic evidence of the most ridiculous things we do in our lives...
Alas, we drove away from the place we called home for three years, and my adventurous weekend continued...
I honestly don't remember all the details from those next two days. Little r has kept me on my toes and is constantly reminding me that he is the center of my universe. He got a nasty cold, learned how to crawl out of his pack-n-play, and went on both an eating and napping strike. This is a fabulous combination for trouble. Hence my lapse in memory. Saturday, my fabulous mother-in-law came down for a final good-bye to pick up her car, and then Sunday my dad and I set out on our silly task of getting me and little r on the first leg of our flight.
We give the Army too much credit for the things that it apparently does for us when all I want to do is punch it square in the nose for all the things it puts us through as an Army spouse and family. I would definitely feel better if I could knock the Army around a little bit. (I'm sure I'm not alone in that either.) The Army made us leave from Richmond and refused to allow us to leave from D.C. (despite having to connect through D.C.). Contracts, really?! We quit asking questions and starting taking orders. So, dad drove me and little r to Richmond so that we could take the first leg of our flight to Germany. Our layover is 8 days long, and honestly the best way for us to have handled this situation - I won't get into all the details, so just trust me on this one. The traffic from DC to Richmond frankly blows, so we left early to avoid any freakish delays, and got to Richmond, well, EARLY. After visiting with my sister for awhile, dad dropped us off at the airport, and the fun began. The 20-minute flight was delayed for over an hour, but I suppose this is typical and no one cared because all of the layovers were at least 4 to 5 hours in D.C. (No clue why United sets things up this way, but it's a big reason we opted for the 8-day layover.)
Little r tried out his new doggie harness, and quickly developed a love-hate relationship with it. It was a seemingly simple way for me to hang onto the kid, but in hindsight, I'm not sure it really helped much this time. Instead we spent most of the 3+ hours in the airport in the stroller walking back and forth in the terminal.
Our plane finally arrived and we worked our way to our seats. Little r was nothing shy of a monster. And I am NOT exaggerating. I love him, but I could not have been more relieved that we only had 20 minutes on the plane. We finally arrived back in D.C. not far from where we had left that morning (my mother-in-law left D.C. at the same time we did that morning and arrived in Connecticut by car before we left Richmond). We were both exhausted. Little r didn't even let us pull away from the terminal before he passed out. This picture literally sums it up.
The next day we headed back to Richmond to get Lucy cat all taken care of for the flight. It's amazing how much easier the international pet travel "stuff" was the second time around. Everything was taken care of and my sister was a Godsend while she watched little r and Lucy cat while I ran around town from one office to another.
After all of the madness, we are slowly trying to settle into something like a routine here at my dad's house. Little r is finally feeling better, and his nap strike is waning. Not sure why he fights it - 20 years from now he'll be dying for an excuse to take a 2 hour nap everyday.
We took a break from all things crazy and decided to go to the zoo this morning. It was amazing. Little r loved every minute of it, especially the tractors. Yes, you heard me right, we went to the zoo, and little r loved the tractor the best. The zookeeper found him adorable and let him sit on one. Made the kid's day.
He also learned how to say Llama and he pet a kangaroo, but those are just minor details.
I know there is more to tell, but I'm tired of writing and I have no doubt you are tired of reading my ramblings. We have a fully-packed several days ahead before our flight to Germany.