Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It's been a while... hasn't it? Our family, since the beginning of summer, has been on a whirlwind adventure.

My littlest sister came to spend a week with us. Her high school French class organized a small group and she spent 2 weeks in France and Spain. My sister spent most of her time in the south of France and very much enjoyed the Basque region. At 15 years old, I can only imagine what a life changing trip this was for her. She also just could not stop talking about Paris during her time with us. It really made me smile to know how much she enjoyed her time. After her France and Spain trip, the school group went home while my sister came to see us. We were able to take a road trip to Neuschwanstein castle, Dachau, and Legoland.

Once her week was up with us, the boys and I packed up and took the same plane back to California with her. Upon arrival to Frankfurt airport and after hours of waiting we were told that our flight was canceled. After a crazy crazy evening of walking around the airport with a herd of 500 other travelers, we were taken to a hotel near the airport, spent the night and boarded our flight the next day. 12 hours in the air and we made it safe and mostly intact! My mother was there at San Fransisco to pick us up and we vegged out for the next day or two to get used to the time difference. The weather was another shocker. Coming for 50 degrees to 101 degrees can be tough. Actually, it felt pretty darn good... for the first few days.

During my time in Sacramento, I was able to spend some much needed time with family and friends. My girlfriend and her husband just opened a local restaurant in my old neighborhood and I cannot say enough great things about it. Truly truly an American dream story. I missed the grand opening of the Pocket Bistro. We moved to Germany right before it. I was so sad not to be able to be there. Jade is one of my closest friends. Our friendship has endured since second grade. She was my maid of honor. She's accomplished in her own right and manages her mother's office supply business. Her husband, Edmund has been in the restaurant business for 20 years. He decided to leave his job as a chef at Ruth Chris and open up his own restaurant. This was truly a dream of theirs. Many folks have this dream but few have enough guts to go for the glory. They have. The food is very good. I always knew Edmund could do steak and chicken but during this last visit, I found out that he and his team in the kitchen are phenomenal. The drinks are fantastic. This is really one of the only "full" bars in the Pocket/Greenhaven area. The neighborhood really needed this. The walls are decorated by paintings done by a local artist and they already have many regulars. One woman at the bar said that she has dreams about the ceviche! In short, I can not say enough good things about it all. They own a small business in the neighborhood where they live and their kids attend school. This is truly something to smile about. Even if I didn't know them and they were so close to my heart. Especially in these economic times.

After 2 weeks in California, the boys and I flew to Virginia to meet up with Mike and visit with his family. We had a layover in Minneapolis. We had a good 3 hours so the boys and I ate lunch at... where else?? Mickey D's. As I ordered ice cream, I heard someone shout "Nicki" behind me. I ignored it. It was a woman's voice and I was with my boys so I figured they weren't referring to me... then I heard it again. I turned around and who should be behind me but my neighbors from Germany! They too had a layover in Minneapolis at the same time but were on their way home after spending time with family in the Midwest. What a one in a million chance! I don't think the initial shock of seeing one another went away entirely. Our conversation was short and we were on our way.

Our stay in Virginia was fun but felt rushed, short, and limited. There simply wasn't enough time to do all of what we wanted to do and see everyone who we wanted to see. The trip was built around Mike's very good friend who was FINALLY getting married. Mike was in the wedding and it was gorgeous. Mike's other very close friend was in the wedding as well and sang two songs at the ceremony. He sang Con te Partiro and Ave Maria and it was, as always, a beautiful performance. Mike sings for the Sea Chanters in DC so, predictably, it was going to be perfection. I believe for Con te Partiro there wasn't a dry eye. He was also the best man for (my) Mike. I only wish we had him sing for us. I'm no expert but he was the closest thing to Andrea Bocelli that I had ever heard. Maybe at our vow renewal?

What could go better with a wedding than a Baptism... 2 sacraments in 2 days? Impossible you say? Not in our family! Mike's family pulled a few strings and we were able to have Samuel finally Baptized at St. Bridget's, Mike's old Church where he went to school and grew up in. Despite it being a rushed event, it was special. We were able to have the G0dparents in attendance, and some close friends. Samuel was his "spirited self" and kicked and screamed through the whole thing. Mike B., our "best man" and Sea Chanter took a video on his iPhone... all 17 minutes of screaming and flailing. I'm looking forward to getting a copy for sure.

10 days literally screamed by us and we were on our way "home" to Germany. No sooner had we arrived then I felt we had to hit the ground running. I'm starting to get Joshua ready for school and just today I had a Red Cross Orientation. I am looking to volunteer a bit during my time here. Our first winter was a tough one for me. I spent a lot of time feeling down. This Summer I decided to take preemptive action and find things to keep me busy. Volunteering with the Red Cross will help me look outside of myself a little bit. I'm in the air about what direction I should take. I have a feeling though, my heart is sending me to the moral side. Helping with our wounded warriors seems like it would be a truly rewarding experience for my spirit and something I could really only do while I'm here. To be able to really be there and play a small part for our soldiers, sailors, and airmen I think is too much of a blessing not to receive. So, wish us all luck as Autumn sets in. We are gonna need it as our calendars fill up!

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