Thursday, December 31, 2009

My accomplishments for 2009....

2009 has been a great year!

I decided to sit down today and think about things that I've accomplished this year. It is very possible I left a few things off, after all, I was attempting to actually "think" about the past year while my children thought that seemed like the BEST time to talk to me, ask me questions, etc....

These are in no particular order.......
  • Survived my Husband's deployment to Iraq....much too long!
  • Cared for 5 fantastic kiddos!
  • Started a Blog....yeah!
  • Met a lot of interesting new friends
  • Began crocheting....still working on 1st project though!
  • Landed a teaching position with DOD (Department of Defense)
  • Expanded my cooking skills
  • Walked around the Roman baths in Trier
  • Visited Keukenhoff Gardens
  • Learned more of the German language
  • Went Polish pottery shopping with friends in Poland
  • Had a semi-successful terrace vegetable garden
  • Toured Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam
  • Got a speeding ticket on the Autobahn....turns out there is a speed limit in some areas (113 km in a 100 km zone - that's about 8 mph
  • Visited 7 countries (France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, and Poland)
  • Went to the first Concentration Camp....Dachau
  • Designed and created almost 200 New Year's Eve invites for the Battalion party
  • Bicycled in Volendam
  • Visited more castles than I could possibly list!
  • Witnessed each of my children grow another year older with their accomplishments
  • Amazingly, did not crash when sliding on the ice around a corner with all of the kids.
  • Cruised the beautiful Rhein River
  • Donated some boxes of clutter that I really needed to get rid of a long time ago!
  • Finished some volunteer commitments: OCC (Overseas Committee Chair) for Girl Scouts, Tours and Activities Chair for the BCSC (Baumholder Community Spouses Club), and special activities for my daughters' GS Troop
  • Continued to volunteer as FRG (Family Readiness Group) Co-Leader
  • Enjoyed everyday with my family!!!!
I'm looking forward to 2010!!
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fairytale castle....

*picture borrowed from the Neuschwanstein website

On day 2, we drove to Neuschwanstein which was about 45 minutes from Edelweiss. This castle belonged to King Ludwig II. There is more info on his interesting life on the website link. The drive took us through Austria and then back into Germany. The path to the castle began in the village of Hohenschwangau.

Does this castle look like a familiar place??....possibly the Disney castle??
Here is a zoomed in view from where we parked.

Tour tickets are purchased in Hohenschwangau and then there is about a 30 minute hike up the mountain to where the castle is nestled. Today was a rainy and chilly day so we decided to take the horse and buggy ride up so we didn't get quite so wet.

Here is Sarah being silly at one of the phone booths by the Information center. My Mom started the phone booth frenzy when she had to get a picture inside a phone booth in Trier. So now we take the "phone booth shot" to make everyone happy.

We caught the next buggy and up we went!

We still had a little bit of a hike when our buggy ride ended. Never fear.....there was a little cart making cream cheese balls in case anyone was hungry. They look like big doughnut holes. We gave in and everyone tried one....well maybe 2 because trying 1 made us want another! They were delicious!!!! The lady was frying them on the spot and then sprinkling with powdered sugar when they were ready. We HAD to stop again on the way down the mountain too!

We toured the castle which was amazing on the inside. We were not able to take pictures of the interior, but were able to take pictures out the windows of the rooms we toured.
How would you like this view???

....some random pictures of the castle

This was a wonderful day despite the weather!
Tomorrow we are going somewhere near Munich......

Monday, December 28, 2009

We finally made it to Edelweiss....

We went to Edelweiss at the beginning of November for a long weekend. This is an Armed Forces lodge located in Garmisch which is in the Bavarian region of absolutely beautiful area!! There are also lodges located in Florida (Disney), Korea, Hawaii, and Virginia.

It took us about 6 hours to get there after what seemed like a gazillion bathroom breaks along the! We arrived just in time to check in and get to our horse and buggy ride through the old part of town. It was quite chilly, but a lot of fun to see the sights in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We shared the ride with a family from England.

He we are after the ride....

The inside of the Lodge was gorgeous.

However, the views outside the front door were amazing!

This Lodge is surrounded by don't do them justice.

We ate at Market Station most of the time. Here is a peek at part of the dining room. It had excellent food and was reasonable for a family of 7!

Tomorrow we are off to a fairytale castle.......

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We almost made it to Valkenburg!

Align Center
There are Christmas markets galore in Germany from mid November through mid December. They are a lot of fun to walk around and take in the German culture. We recently, as in 4 days before it was over, heard about a unique market in the Netherlands. It is located in an underground labyrinth of the Velvet Caves which are located under the castle ruins of Valkenburg. The castle dates back to 1050! Each year the market is decorated in a theme and this year's theme was "A Christmas Carol." Check out the castle and market info HERE.

Sound interesting?? We thought so too! In fact, we attempted to make the 2 1/2 hour drive from our house one Sunday morning. Our first snowstorm had started the Friday before and it had been steadily snowing ever since. We were still determined to go until we got onto the Autobahn.

This is the Autobahn!

We totally expected the roads to be treated. I mean it is the Autobahn!!! We drove for about 30 minutes before we decided to turn around and head back home. This market is on the top of our "To Do" list next November!!!

Jacque wanted to help shovel some snow when we got home with his new little snow shovel. I hope he keeps this enthusiasm for child labor....uhm I mean helping out around the house.

Don't they look cute??

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Night Before Christmas

Tonight seemed like a great time to get back to blogging. It has been on my "To Do" list for a while and never seems to get checked off. Many things have happened over the last few months which makes blogging seem overwhelming so I have a solution that will be posted shortly.

Now, let me get back on topic! My Mom and Step dad were not able to visit us for Christmas this year. So, my Mom found these really cool recordable books at the Hallmark store.

The kids were super excited that they were able to open a present tonight. They loved listening to the stories read by Granny and Papa.

The dedication page....

Jacque's face when he heard his name...

Then came the story.....

Here is Ian without his book. Wonder why??

One kiddo is missing from these pictures...Colton. He opened Ian's for him since he was such a mess, but it didn't take long for him to disappear.

These will make great keepsakes for the kids!
Thanks Granny & Papa

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

1st stop in Luxembourg....

*Picture from the American Battle Monuments Commission
A couple weekends ago we took a day trip to Luxembourg which is only about an 1 1/2 drive from our house. We were able to visit a few places on our list, but not all of them, so we'll need to make another trip.

Our first stop today was at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial which was established on December 29, 1944.

This is not the most interesting of places for kids....or so I thought. My kids really surprised me because I didn't hear one moan, groan, or sigh when we told them that we were going to a cemetery for our first stop. They smiled and said ok with enthusiasm! I don't know why I'm surprised by this, but I guess I was expecting them to be disappointed or something. We gave them a little overview and then we were off to explore.

After walking through the gates, the visitor center is on the left. It was quite strange being in an American cemetery in a foreign country.

American flags blowing in the wind is not a common sight fact, we only see them on the base, however, there is a lot of red, yellow, and black blowing in the wind!

The stone chapel is just inside the gates....

Mosaic on the ceiling inside the chapel....

5,076 US soldiers are buried in this cemetery.
Many of them lost their lives in the "Battle of the Bulge."

The city of Luxembourg was the headquarters for General George S Patton's US Third Army.
General Patton is buried here.

There are actually 24 American burial grounds on foreign soil....this was surprising. Presently there are 124,909 soldiers from WWI, WWII, and the Mexican War buried in these cemeteries.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Super slide trio.....

Our last stop at the park was this fun slide area. I thought is was really smart that the park didn't have to have attendants over here because they use a ticket to get in the gate. Basically, you purchase a card for a certain number of slides and then use that card in the scanner to get through the gate to get on the slide. The scanner tells you how many slides, or turns, you have left. It does seem strange to have so much technology in this little secluded park, but it worked well!

Now for the slides!

There was the wavy slide.....

...and the winner was Sarah!

Look at the cool handles that you use to hold on as you're going down!

Then there was the ever popular tunnel slide!

....and finally the dreaded vertical slide!

It took a lot of nerve to go down this slide. Lauren was the first to go down and she LOVED it!! Sarah attempted to go down a few times and ended up hanging from a pole over the opening (so much safer than just sliding ON the slide) and had to have help getting onto the landing. Colton saved her once and another man the next time.

Here is Colton trying to convince her to go down. Why would she listen to him when he himself wouldn't go down??? Funny how easy it is to encourage someone else, but not yourself!

Sarah did eventually get up enough nerve to go down and
she was actually terrified!

I really wish I had a better close up of her face as she came down!

Colton on the other hand didn't want to admit that he was scared to go down. Instead, he would go up and sit and then eventually act like he was going to be nice and let another kid go ahead of thoughtful right?? Well, he did this too many time to count until he got teased enough from everyone that he finally took the plunge!

We had a great time just sliding and jumping for a couple of hours. The prices were really reasonable so I see more trips in our future!!