Monday, August 31, 2009

Clean house

Moving: busy at best, stressful and hectic at worst.  By the lack of blogging this past week, you may assume (rightly) that it has been the the latter two.  I am so bored of the details now, and so tired of even thinking about all of it that I don't want to drag you all through it.  The bright part: the movers did, indeed show up the next day (early!), and packed us out in about 10 hours.  They were brisk and efficient, and respectful of our things. 

The dark part: we are significantly lighter in the wallet, due to some crooked dealing by the landlord and his wife.  A word of advice to friends near and far: when you move into a place, take pictures of ANYTHING that might be even slightly worn or damaged.  Even slightly.  Print these off and write clauses into your rental contract, if possible, or at least save them in your own files.  It may be the only thing standing between you and 2000 Euro.  Especially if you happen to live with little people who look like this.

Just sayin'.

I am still reaching within myself to find forgiveness for the woman who has personally scorned my housekeeping skills, the man who has forced us into funding the remodeling of his house.  Truly, I think that forgiveness and grace will have to be a divine gift in this situation.  We will move on now, because sincerely, I have nothing more to say about all of that.  I am bored to tears by the whole mess, and don't want to leave Germany with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Looking beyond all of that, it's hard leaving.  Living in Europe has been, largely, a great adventure for us.  I wish I'd made it more of a priority to learn the German language, and it would have been nice to have Greg with us more often, but other than that, I have to say that I have no regrets.

(Our last visit to our favorite restaurant in town -- a French pizzaria called Toucy)

It was sad to take a last walk through our little town last week on our way to the Friday farmer's market (on Aug. 21st). 

We said goodbye to the Egg Lady, and to the Cheese Truck Couple, and then, at last, to the dear lady at the local yarn shop.  I had told her a week prior that we'd be moving, so when we stopped by, she ran to the back room and brought out little gifts (unexpectedly!) for each of us.  Andrew, Elijah and Lavella had little packets of gummy bears, bubbles, stamps, etc., Jonah had a hand-crocheted stuffed ball, and for me, she crocheted a beautiful summer-weight scarf, in the perfect shade of blue.  She and I both had tears in our eyes as we said goodbye.  It's kind of hard to say goodbye forever.

(Jonah was napping at home with Greg, while the movers packed out our things)

On Sunday night (Aug. 23rd), we moved into the hotel.  It's cramped in here, but at least all of the cleaning and the packing and the sick feeling of inevitable disruption is past.  We're living out of suitcases, and we still have a trans-Atlantic flight ahead of us, but it feels really good to have all of the most difficult bits behind us.

This past Saturday, Greg hung out with the children while I went to my very last Stitch 'n Bitch knitting group.  It was strange to sit around the table, knitting, eating lunch, chatting as usual...but knowing that this would be the very last time this particular group of ladies would share time together.

When we arrived in Germany, we had two children; we are leaving with four.  The memories we are taking with us are precious, and while it is sad that it is time to go, we look forward to the future adventures to be had at our new home in Texas.

Our favorite little guys
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Get What You Pay For or Why Moving Is Super Fun

This past week has been a time of nearly constant motion. We paced ourselves so that the work didn't become overwhelming, but it did seem, at times, that it would never be done (at least to me. Greg has been incredibly confidant and relaxed for the most part. I just like to tweak out sometimes for the sheer joy of it).

When the Army moves an individual or a family, they pay movers to do all of the work. You don't actually have to do anything besides packing your suitcase for the flight (which they also pay for), and cleaning up the empty house afterwords. However, personally, I'm not a fan of opening a box at The New House, and discovering that it really should have been labeled Desk Clutter Pile... and another named Nightstand Junk Yard... etc. Also, within the rooms themselves, there were certain areas that needed to be organized. This pretty much meant that I had to weed through and re-organize ALL of my things, since I don't live a terribly ordered existence. You could say that the places I live in have a tendency to in rather quickly. There are even some people who say that perhaps I have a bit of a Saving Stuff problem that kind of looks like I'm decorating with piles of junk. Kind of. But that's just some people's opinion.

Moving right along.

The moving company overseer (chief?) came by a few days ago to see how many boxes and time they might need for our household. We were scheduled for a pack-up today, and a pack-out tomorrow. This morning, Greg and I woke up at 6:30am to do the finishing touches on the house; the movers were supposed to be here sometime after 8:00am. Several hours later, the transportation lady (who coordinates the move) arrived, and was surprised to find no workers packing our house. A few phone calls and about 2 hours later, we got a return call from the moving company overseer, matter-of-factly stating that "Of course, we're coming tomorrow, and it will be no problem to pack you up and out on the same day. Of course." Of course.

Seeing as it's quite fun to be functioning in a holding pattern of manic cleanliness and organization with 4 small children, we see no problem with this, and we look forward to future moves. Heck, let's do a move every weekend! YAY!! International moves are so inspiring. The way people work together, communicate, and function as a unit. It's really quite beautiful.

I'm going to go cry into a giant mug of mocha. If you need me, I'll be rocking, arms over my head, in a corner somewhere in the attic. God help us all.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A photo-post: Date Night

Since Greg got home on Wednesday morning, we've been in full-force Clean And Organize mode.  I have several posts floating around in my head, half-formulated, but I don't have the time to sit down and write them out properly just yet.  In their stead, here are some pictures of a rather lovely date that Greg took me out on just before he left for Texas a few weeks ago. This is our absolute favorite restaurant in the area, run by a three-star chef with an in-house Metzger (Butcher).

(The waitress always serves ice water to Americans -- most restaurants here don't even have ice!)

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

If you're happy and you know it...

In answer to the questions about where to put the groceries with so many Helpers filling the cart: Haha, I wonder the same thing myself.


Some of you have already heard this quote, but I need to share it here for posterity. Elijah has been biting Andrew and Lavella lately, leaving full sets of teeth marks. It's awful. This morning, he bit Andrew, and afterwards, we had the following exchange: "Elijah, you may never, never, NEVER bite anyone." Elijah answered, deeply distressed and with great feeling, "But then my teeth won't be sharp and fast enough for lunch!"


Greg found a house for us in the Austin area (yes Jill, it's the one he told you about), and has nailed down other details about our new life there as well. Back here in Germany, however, I've been feeling figity and anxious. I feel like there's so much left to be done, yet I have no energy or drive to do it alone. I also can't help but feel slightly put out that I'm the one that has to stay behind with the children, while Greg has this adventure off by himself. Of course, this is a completely unreasonable feeling -- there's no way we could have traded places; neither of us would have been very successful if we'd swapped jobs -- but the feeling's still there all the same. Thankfully, he'll be back in three days. Three days and counting. Every day, Elijah asks "but when will Daddy be coming home?!"

To add to my own personal complications, I've been knitting a difficult lace shawl that doesn't seem to agree with me; I've had to fix errors in it so many times now that I'm ready to throw it out the window. I won't though, because I like the yarn. I'll try not to throw anything else.

Overall, however, homelife here has been running along smoothly, and I've managed to keep things interesting and fun for the children so that the time goes by quickly. Today, we went for another walk. Since we were taking the same path to the Sandbox Playground, I brought along a little crate so that we could pick blackberries along the way to take home. We managed to fill it all the way to the top.

There were also plums, I think, growing along with the blackberries at some point.

Can anyone verify that a plum is, indeed, what this is? (I don't feel like poisoning anyone.)

All of the little cowboys and cowgirl had a good time at the playground (and Pete, you will be happy to know that it was freshly mowed this morning!)

Lavella rode on this bouncy horse with Andrew:

Then Elijah thought that it would be fun to do that too:

Lavella felt that it was a little bit too exciting.

We blew Dandelion seeds to repopulate the earth with everyone's favorite weed (I know, I know, the gardeners out there are wincing):

(Elijah wanted to take this picture of me)

Jonah sat and watched everyone, feeling superior now that he can sit up All By Himself.

When we got home, we all ate Blackberry Fools and snickered at the name.

Whipped cream and a little bit of vanilla sugar boosted these tart berries into a rather lovely little treat.


Well, maybe today wasn't so bad after all. Maybe it was just the knitting that was bad. Screw that shawl. I'm going to go knit a sock now.

In the meantime, the rest of you can watch these two videos of Lavella.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Little Guy: firsts

The past month has been a big one for Jonah (or "Little Guy", as my children call him). First, he cut his first two teeth (the first in Barcelona and Paris, and the second soon after). Second, he's sitting up now! I can set him up with toys on the rug, and he can actually stay upright for a little while, until he decides that there's a toy he just can't live without -- just...beyond...his reach... and then he tips over. But so far, he hasn't bumped his head at all, except for this morning, when Elijah unadvisedly stood him up at the coffee table...and then walked away. But besides that, no bumps.

Anyway! Yesterday, I put Jonah down on his belly in the computer room for a minute, and when I turned back around, he had pulled himself up to sitting on the leg of the desk!

"Yay for me! I am awesome!"

"Hmmm, I seem to have tipped..."

"HEY! You over there with the camera!! I can only hold myself up with my head for just so long!"

Since he's now, apparently, a little Champion Sitter, I let him ride in the cart for the first time when we went food shopping yesterday.

With a shopping crew this helpful cute, how can a momma go wrong?

Andrew:  (cue whiny whisper voice) "Are we done yet.....?"
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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Well then. That was exciting.

Did you know that you could have the webbing between your toes glued back together? As it turns out, you can! And who might we have to thank for this little bit of trivia? Our dear friend Andrew.

(Seen here with Black Eyed Elijah, who was having an allergic reaction to some mosquito bites. Also, they both were sporting worn-out temporary tats on their cheeks. What a pair.)

Another bit of trivia: it is possible to slice the webbing of ones foot on the faucet spout of the bathtub if you've been Slippery Sliding fast enough. Not that Slippery Sliding is actually allowed or anything. In case you were wondering. I'm also not entirely clear as to what Slippery Sliding is, since I was out of the bathroom for that .05 seconds it took him to slice his foot in said spout. Oh dear. This all happened on Monday, of course, THE DAY AFTER GREG LEFT. Nice. Half the day spent in the ER later, we were home with glue between his toes.

(Here, you will note that Elijah was doing everything in his power to try to fall off of the examination table and split his head open. I mean, we were at the ER. Let's be reasonable now, Mommy.) (Also, the long stick Jonah is holding is the Walking Stick that Andrew brought with him. If your gonna amp up the drama, it's all Go Big or Go Home with them.) (Is it even legal to have this many parenthesis in a row, and when will Faith stop all of this foolishness?) (Hopefully soon, as she has now taken up the uncalled for practice of referring to herself in the third person.) (Nothing to see here, moving right along then...)

OK, enough of that. Children! On a walk! Let's look at some pictures of that, shall we?

On Tuesday, the weather was brilliant. It was hot in our apartment, but cool and breezy outdoors, so Andrew asked if we could go to the Sandbox Playground.

Initially, I (foolishly) said "everyone can ride their own bikes". This, however, was a reckless plan, and after making it about one meter down the road, we turned back to park Lavella's bike. At that point, Elijah decided he'd rather walk, which was probably a good decision on his part. His bike is small and it takes lots of pedaling. He wasn't in the best of moods (this happens whenever Greg leaves; he becomes incredibly needy), so it was for the best. All of this to explain why Lavella is wearing her helmet here:

Billy and Daisy at the beginning of our walk

Once we did actually manage to leave our house for real, we found these puckery-sweet blackberries along the path.

And roses. They're so fragrant when they're in bloom.

The boys had packed the stroller with as many trucks as could possibly fit.

Beautiful Lavella.

On the way home, we picked up some lunch:

Fresh air is good for the soul.

Not related, but I've just squirted myself in the eye with my contact cleaning solution (not the saline, but the caustic disinfectant). I feel like I got punched in the face. I'm going to go eat a brownie.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A weekend with Uncle Jomby

This past weekend, Jonathan came to visit us. It was a little bittersweet, because it was the last time we'll be able to see him before we move, and after that, we're unsure when we'll be able to visit with him next. He's supposed to deploy sometime in the 1st half of next year, so if we don't see him before that, it could be quite a while.

We had a nice weekend though. On Saturday, we made a quick run (we actually did RUN) to the bakery, and made it there just before they locked the doors. Because the bakeries (and pretty much our whole town) shuts down at 12 or 1 PM on Saturdays. And doesn't open again until Monday. I'm almost used to the crazy n0n-hours by now, but it will be SO nice to have 24-hour stores available to us once again when we move back to the States.

Playing with Daisy

The children are all about giving each-other tastes. They will often offer a taste before they've even taken bites of their own! Wish they'd be this courteous to each other all the time...

Sharing pretzel-bread

In case anyone was wondering, this is what the pretzel dance looks like:

Gotta love the Pretzel Dance

I need to get Andrew a hoola-hoop. He's already got the hip-wiggle down.


Ah yes, here they are being DIScourteous.

Max pushing Sparky out of the way while hiding his own face

Good times.

On Sunday morning, Greg left to go on a 10-day house-hunt for us in Texas. Jonathan was able to stay until after dinner, so we took the children for a walk in the afternoon.

(Not sure if you can tell from this photo, but Elijah's face is all swollen out on one side from an allergic reaction to mosquito bites. Lovely.)

Bike riding and strollering

Sparky riding down the ramp (walk with Jonathan)

Jonathan and Billy

This next photo is for Joel, who wanted to know if Jonah likes being held upside-down. I must state that I emphatically DO NOT endorse this style of babyholding, but there you go Joel. Now you can feel like you did it vicariously. Hooray.

Please note that I emphatically DO NOT ENDORSE this style of baby-holding

Now that's much nicer

For more photos from the weekend, you can click through to the set here.

Jonathan recently went on a Very Cool Trip to Sicily, and will hopefully blog his photos soon so that the rest of us can do a little armchair traveling with him. Oh wait! You didn't know he had a blog! Right, I was supposed to tell you about that. He's only posted once so far, but hopefully this is just the kick in the pants he needs, since I'm now officially directing some web traffic his way... : Dinosaurs Riding Dinosaurs.

Goodbye, Uncle Jomby! We'll miss you, and we hope you'll be able to visit us in Texas sometime.