Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frenectomy Update

We've had a lot of folks ask, email, and call. Addie survived her surgery and in fact, the surgeon said she was "a very brave girl". They said she asked a lot of questions, about everything they did and said and used during the surgery. When they let me in the room to see her, I held her sweaty palms and asked her a lot of "yes" and "no" questions until they let her stand up and walk around. She really seemed fine. By the time we got to the metro station, she was chatting away. I was, a bit taken back. Then, the anesthetic began to wear off, and by bedtime she was teary eyed, but coping. She's had a swollen lip since, and carries an ice pack, but overall, she's doing just fine. She has a check up in a week and stitches will be removed in 3 weeks.
Thanks for all of your concern, prayers, and kind words. She's tired of soft, cold foods, but is doing just fine. 

Thank Goodness for Sisters

and sock books.

So, recent Valentine's post on socks stirred some chat.
Suggestions for resolving the sock issue were productive and I think streamlining our socks into
only one or two versions makes a lot of sense.

(Let me pause for just a moment to ask again,...'how did I end up here?' From productive pharmacist, curing diease and illness, to stay at home mom, stuck in a foreign country, blogging about lone socks? Hmmmm.... it gives pause eh?
Before I fall into identity crisis, I say 'I digress'. )

But what to do with the singles that are still 'desperately seeking a mate'?
Answer? > Sister (a.k.a. Aunt Betsy). Supporting her country and military family abroad,
sent a couple of books to keep us all from despair.
"Stray Sock Sewing", ( I know! Who knew?)
both books are chalked full of ideas and plans to create with our very lonely strays and loving offspring.
Thanks again Bets.
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Bombs Away!

Laundry. Ugh.
Luckily, a nearby base allows us to borrow an American size washer and dryer.
European versions are much much smaller. A smaller washing machine wouldn't be of any concern,
1) you can only fit about 3-6 articles of clothing, or 2-3 towels into the European version
2) we're doing laundry for a family of 6. That can add up to a lot.
We do try to conserve water and electricity however.
We hang clothes dry when possible, and the kids have been trained not to just dump clothing in the laundry.
If they put it in their basket, it better have the need to be there.
Still, we wash about 6 full laundry baskets, every 2 weeks.

The washer we're borrowing is called "Speed Queen", labeled right across the top.
Funny, but our cycle of laundry is definitely not speedy, and shows no sign of a queen's royalty.
Really, who thought a washing machine should have "queen" in the title? I'm not a full blown feminist or anything but if the manufacturer has to imply royalty,
why not "Quick King"?
This machine really should have been called "sock eater", "simplicity", or even "hunk-a-burnin' love", but "Speed Queen"? Come now.

What is utterly charming however, (or at least a lot of fun),
is the practice of "bombs away".
The kids sort and then dump their laundry down a chute from the second floor to the garage,
near the laundry room. This is one chore they really love.
"Bomb's Away!!!!!" come your dirty underwear, smelly socks, and stinky t-shirts!

I do think sometimes, they contemplate throwing other things down that chute.
Luckily, it's often 'out of sight out of mind',
hidden away in an upstairs closet floor. So we haven't had any trouble,..yet.

Come on over to our place for laundry.
We have a fully trained and fun filled
operation for sorting, moving, and folding your favorite t-shirt and pantaloons.
Not to mention, a "Speed Queen" that can get the job done.
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Before and After

Before the monthly trip to the commissary, 1 hour away.

And after,....

The monthly commissary run is a dreaded chore for the kids.
An hour each way in the car, to go grocery shopping. Not their idea of how to have fun.
We pack the car as full as possible on return.
There are cereal boxes, diapers, canned goods, produce, detergent, meats, etc.
all stashed in and around every nook and cranny of the car.
Usually about 2 grocery carts full of goods.
At least we're stocked for another month.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Week in Germany

Matt had to work in Stuttgart and the kids were off of school for Carnival week.

So, we packed them up and headed out for Germany.

The Mosel grape vines were covered in snow and the weather was wet and dreary most of the time.

Despite Addie having a stomach virus on night one in the hotel (and all the fun of toilet hugging that goes with it), despite Arleigh deciding to cut two back molars 2 hours into the journey, and despite Stella being asked to stop jumping on the hotel bed about 1000 times, we managed to see and do a few new things.

Ludwigsburg Schloss - outside

The Ludwigsburg Schloss, I have to say," a must see" if you happen to be in the Stuttgart, Germany region.

The outside is impressive. The kids however, were more fascinated with the ice on the ground than the Palace itself, at least initially. Outside, it was cold, and inside, it was, well, cold.

Visiting the Palace in the winter meant that we wouldn’t be able to see the “Fairytale gardens” where a tower houses Rapunzel and she lets her hair down to you if you call to her. (Now on my bucket list, we’ll just have to go back in warmer weather. I was told Rapunzel lives in the Mediterranean in the winter months because there is no heat in the tower, but she‘ll be back to her tower as soon as spring blooms).

When do you have to go back to Stuttgart Matt? Rapunzel, hopefully will be waiting on us.
In the meantime, we explored what we could.

I want my garden to look like this!

Emory played gatekeeper with Stella while Matt and I got our bearings.

It didn't take long before we ambled inside to see the palace fit for a king.

A Personal Touch

We arrived at the Ludwigsburg Schloss in plenty of time to visit the children's museum, fairytale gardens, and take a tour of the palace. The receptionist however, remarked that the children's museum and gardens were closed at the time. So we asked for a suggestion as to what we might do there until the 1:30pm English tour time. She paused a moment, spoke a bit in German to a man standing at the desk and then offered "Would you like a private tour in English right now? Just for the family?"

Hmmm, no need to hesitate on that one.

 It was by far, one of the most unique experiences we may ever have here. Until that moment, I might have even said that we were "castled out", now having visited more castles than I can count. Castle ruins, castles still inhabited, castles decorated, castles empty,...we'd been there done that. But this, wow. What a personal touch, and quite a gift.
On the way up the grand staircase, the guide quietly asked me "now is this more for you, or the kids?"
I told him that he could really do whatever he liked with us. Matt and I were certainly interested, but that the kids would appreciate info as well. He did more than give them a few bits of info- he got them involved, making the tour all the more fun.
The kiddos were asked to guard the doors, to authenticate the initial experience and emotion one had upon arriving at the top of the grand staircase. Addie was all giggles, but Emory took his job rather seriously.

At one point, the guide led the kids over the barrier ropes so they could "see better and have a nicer view".
Then he turned to us and said "don't tell anyone we did this".
(oops! cat's outta the bag now)

We were taken all around the schloss, through bedrooms, servant quarters, offices, reception areas, game rooms, and not one, but the 2 churches housed by the castle. (I'm not talkin' chapel either- full blown churches, one Catholic and one Protestant).
Addie had a chance to ring the servant bell for service, hanging at the edge of this massive doorway. We heard the bell ting-a-ling-a-linging several rooms away, where the servants must have been waiting.
At one point, he was showing the kids a very old organ. One that could be carried around and played anywhere. To them, it looked like a big wooden box, and it was obvious that they didn't understand exactly what it was that they were viewing. So, the guide reached over the barrier ropes and pulled out a long rope from the wooden box before us, then tapped out a few notes on the organ. "See" he said, looking at the kids shocked faces "it plays music, wherever you like!"
Somehow, I don't think the organ demo is part of the normal tour.

Cause to Look Up

The Ludwigsburg Schloss (Palace) was simply amazing. Ornate detail everywhere. The castle was initally a hunting 'cabin' shall we say, until it was decided, 500 years ago, that construction would resume to build additional wings. Upon construction, the interior was completed in a Baroque style, but eventually, hundreds of years later, changed to Neoclassical style.  I noticed Emory was gazing up, viewing the painted ceilings rather often. He'd comment about chandeliers, or paintings "I like that one". Or, "I don't really like that". When I 'd ask him "why?" or "why not?" He'd say, "because it's fancy" or occasionally he'd remark, "because it's too much".

One of the most interesting ceilings (below) was being restored. The room's center was the ideal place to view the magnificent walls and overhead paintings, as they were done as "Baroque illusion paintings".
Where the ceiling meets the wall, huge pillars and archways were painted in to look like they were real.
It is cause for a double take.
I found myself trying to figure out what was painted in, and what was actually architecture.

The painting in the background (below) is of Queen Charlotte from England.
She married the king and spent her days here at the castle. She was known to be kind and engaging to the people of the land, which was something quite new. Most nobles didn't associate at all with those of lower status. She seemed to be a Martha Stewart of her day as well, painting on vases, completing embroidery and needlework for sofa and chair covers, which are all still available to view in the schloss today.

Chess anyone?
One of many game rooms in a connected parlor area.

This room was decorated in mirrors. Our guide emphasized that in its peak days of the palace, mirrors were very expensive and these were made in Italy and then transported to Germany, adding to the cost.
The guide told a "priceless joke" that if only they had known how cheap mirrors would soon become, they might have decided to commission Reubens or Rembrandt to paint there instead.
This room was, at the time, known to be quite a "show off room".

From one place to another

We hung out in Ludwigsburg for a bit after our tour of the palace.
But it wasn't long before we headed out of town, only to find ourselves in a new place,...Tubingen.

Tubingen was decorated up for Fasching, the German version of Carnival.
There were flags and banners across town, and witches and masks hung from doors and window shutters to mark the holiday.

Ths kid were, um, slightly confused by the Fasching witches and masks.
Less than a week had passed since Valentine's Day and the kids were asking,  
"Is it Halloween now?"

What's for Dinner?

We never quite know where we're end up, or what we'll find on the dinner plate when we're on these trips
Tonight it's schnitzel and a yummy dessert of 'eis'  with warm raspberries.
No wonder her tongue was hanging out!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The New Header

I wanted to get a new header photo up early in the New Year.
Perhaps even for the New Year, but I hadn't counted on
chicken pox, among other things.
Finally it's up. The kids don't like it.
Well, Emory does, of course.

Stella though, she knew those were her hands in the old header,
on the beach, holding that seashell.
She really likes that photo. I do too.
And sometimes, change is good.

We can always go back.
For now though, we're going to look forward with something new.
I hope, in time, even Stella will appreciate it.
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Searching for a Mate

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.
We house possibly the largest collection of "singles" this side of the world.
Socks that is.

Arrival in Belgium- about 10 pairs of socks between the entire family of 6.
In Guam, we wore sandals. No need for socks.
1 year later, to the day, ....130 single socks, each missing their life partner.
Astounding really.

The kids obviously, deal with this in their own way.
Matt and I are placing an ad in the classifieds however.
The basket of loners doesn't really give one the 'warm and fuzzies'.
Calling on all help, advice, and support of social networks,
we are desperately trying to find mates.
*Desperately Seeking Socks*
They have been tragically separated from loved ones,
through unfortunate and unknown events.
(Seriously, people, where do those dang socks go?
Just walk right off the job? Up and leave the family with what?
...desperation. That's what.)

Each sock has their own special colorful personality.
Some even come with a "Penn State University" education.
(apologies to Aunt Julie)
Some, shall we say, are brighter than others.
But all 130 need a friend for life.

If you happen to know where we might find a few mates, please let us know.
We're desperately searching for the singles.
In the meantime, happy heart day to you all. Enjoy your loved ones.
May you never be separated from them!
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