Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Everyday Life

A small note....the post below is similar to this one....however, Mike thought it relevant because some of the things were, enjoy!

As Summer has come to an end, the holidays have been ramping up fast. We have just been so busy we can't even see straight. Joshua has school, homework, guitar, soccer, and Cub Scouts. Things will feel normal again once soccer season ends but needless to say we have just about no time for anything else. Last night was a "nothing" night and Mike and I literally did nothing. We could have carved the pumpkins but we just didn't have it in us. Mike's wrist has been killing him and he's got to get in to see the doctor.

The fabulous thing about our tour here in Germany is that there are many of the conveniences of America right here in our neighborhood. Friday is pizza night. I was making my own pizza. My mother gave me her pizza stones and I've been hooked on home made pizza ever since. There's something about a fresh crispy crust! Well, since our tour into the busy parenting life, making my own pizza is just not as enjoyable... I don't have the flippin' time! Thankfully, we have delivery! Yes, I can call one of two places in my area and order pizza. Something that is virtually impossible living in Japan (unless you know Japanese very well and like squid ink pizza :) Napoli and Taormina both deliver. They are pricier than the states but on a busy night it's worth it! I've done Napoli because it's easier (I can just order online) but I heard Taormina is really good. Just about every time we order at Napoli we also get a free bottle of wine. They also give out points.

Recently we also went to a Hockey game with Joshua's Cub Scout den. I can't say enough good things about the Scouts. This is Joshua's first year. Even though he's started late and had to catch up, his den has been completely supportive. The activities and field trips they plan have been great. Mike has mostly been taking him to everything because all the events seem to fall when Samuel needs a nap or should be in bed. However, we've all been able to attend the recent Rain Gutter Regatta and hockey game. Joshua earned first place in his den for the Rain Gutter Regatta; we were so proud. The Hockey game was in Zweibrücken about a 30 minute drive from our area. In Zweibrücken. there is an ice rink where one of the boys practices his figure skating and his dad is on a rec hockey team. Anyone PCSing here that is interested in keeping up ice sports, this is most likely the place to do it. Across from the rink is outlet stores. This being Sunday evening, I couldn't check them out but, it's something that really caught my attention. Here is a link to anyone interested in checking it out and filling me in if I don't blog about it soon: The Style Outlets. The hockey game was a lot of fun. Loud and cold sums it up. The last time I had been to a hockey game was in San Diego watching the Gulls play. Here they are the Zweibrücken Hornets. Click on the link and the schedule can be found on their webpage. Adults are 6 Euro and Kids are 5 Euro. We stayed for 3 periods and then took off. We knew it was time to go when Sam was laying on the sticky popcorn laden floor and knocking over drinks. The 3 year old was OK though and we didn't feel awkward or anxious about our kid behaving because it was a loud rowdy place anyways. Parking was easy too. A good family outing for sure. Just bundle up! It's cold inside!

Cleaning is my thing these days. Especially because I know that I'll be hosting the neighborhood Thanksgiving. Our neighbors will cook one turkey, and Mike and I are planning on doing our traditional deep fried bird. We started this in Japan when we didn't have an oven big enough for a turkey. Mike went out and bought a deep fryer and propane tank. We deep fried our first bird and haven't looked back since. It's the absolute best way! But, I am hosting and it should be interesting because well, I don't have much furniture or anything for that matter. I am completely depending on my neighbors who are much more abundant on this type of garage inventory. The one thing I can be sure of though is that our house is clean! Lately I've fallen in love with a German cleaning brand called Frosch. It was the smell that first snagged me in but now I appreciate the message of the brand as well. Environmentally friendly and natural. I've always kinda been a treehugger with my cleaning agents when I can (I'm also cheap). My main cleaning ingredients are vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. However, I really miss that chemical induced "clean" smell that major brands provide... this is where Frosch has helped me. Also, Ariel brand detergent has been my favorite... again for the smell but I'm going to try and move towards a more environmentally friendly brand there if I can as well.

Also, in preparation for company I am trying to cover my naked floors. Now when I was planning on moving here, I read that I should stock up on carpets before the move. I decided against it. I didn't know what size of a house we would have. I figured I could just by them here. That's #287 things I regret that I didn't do before moving here! Note to anyone out there planning to move here. BUY RUGS!! I can't stress it enough. The prices here are atrocious. For one large "cheap" carpet here it will cost you the same as a Pottery Barn rug... ladies, you know what I'm talking about! Rugs here are stupid expensive. I've been looking for good quality inexpensive rugs here and I'm at a loss. Ikea and Poco Domain are the inexpensive household goods. I might try Ikea again but Poco for rugs is not really my first choice. I'd love to buy some online... if only Pottery Barn would ship rugs here (Always with the Pottery Barn right?). But alas, most rugs will not ship through FPO/APO. So, I've been also hitting up Ramstein yard sales. I've had to be vigilant and patient but I've found some good deals there. I got two "oatmeal" type rugs for $35 and another semi nice 5x7 one for $50 (I had to bargain down that one from $100) Because I've got faux wood laminate and tile the echo in my 4 floor home is awesome and not the good kind of awesome. So, I've also been surfing Ramstein yard sales for plants. Another really inexpensive way to buffer the sound bounce.

Last night I took Joshua to get a hair cut... he was seriously in need. Mop top was an understatement. My favorite place to go for haircuts in Landstuhl hospital. The old school guy in there really does a great job. Unfortunately it was past 5:00 and I wasn't sure they would be open. So, I headed to Ramstein. I like Ramstein because of everything that's available there... I hate it because it's packed with people all the time and it's HUGE. We were headed to Ramstein when I hear on the radio that traffic was at a standstill because of an accident. I was close enough to the autobahn entrance headed towards Mannheim so I zipped onto the autobahn and headed to Vogelweh. I had no idea where a place was for him to get a hair cut. So, I went into the Moms shop. (AKA video rental shop) He told me to go to the shop right outside of the gate. The woman who owns the place used to have a place on base but didn't put in a low enough bid when they were opening up the new salon... so, she decided to open up right outside of the gate. Hollywood Beauty and Barbershop/ Day Spa was a nice place to go. They did a good job for Joshua and I was happy with them. The wait was not long at all in fact, I walked in and they took me. (Unlike Ramstein... arg) And, at 8.50 Euro the price was right. I'd definitely go back there.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just an Update

Our family has been very busy the past few weeks. Ever since school started, it has been a whirlwind of activities. Joshua is enjoying his new school year and also has Cub Scouts, soccer and guitar lessons. Cub Scouts was something new this year. Ever since he had his birthday, he is fascinated by pocket knives. Mike and I really want to be able to get him a Swiss Army knife from Switzerland. I was also worried about a boy his age carrying around a knife!!! That's what kicked off the idea of Cub Scouts. The Cub Scouts teach about proper knife usage and drill into the boys' heads the safety rules. At Joshua's age, the boys are eligible to carry a knife. However, like us, most parents in the den are choosing to hold off on that one! Every week, he has Cub Scout homework. This includes push-ups, sit-ups, soft ball throw and long jump. He also must memorize the Cub Scout motto and learn the proper salute.

Soccer has been a joy. Joshua has a good time out there and the team has a good spirit for sure. Guitar lessons have proven to be a real asset to Joshua. His teacher is teaching him how to read sheet music (notes) tune his guitar and rhythm. This will definitely help him with his fine motor skills. Joshua has a bicycle obstacle course coming up for Scouts as well. This has motivated him to fine tune is biking skills. Everyday after school he hops on his bike for training. The other day, he took a curb to quickly and skinned his knee something fierce. Screaming and with blood running down his leg, I carried him up to the bathtub to "hose" him off with the shower head. The scrape was pretty bad and there were several shards of gravel that I had to wash out. I was a little worried and knocked on my friend's door to have her take a look. She said there was no need for stitches and even if there was it was too ragged of a scrape to actually stitch up. Assessing myself later, I realized that I hadn't really watched him as he went out and he was wearing shorts and Birkenstocks out to go bike riding. The very next day I went out and got him knee, elbow and wrist pads. I also updated my first aid kit that I noticed was expired.

An exciting event just happened recently. In second grade, Joshua had an assignment to write a letter to a member of the Obama family. Joshua chose to write the dog, Bo. Just recently, we received a letter back from the White House. Mrs. Obama wrote back to Joshua!!! The letterhead had the presidential seal and was hand signed by the First Lady herself. Enclosed was also a small picture of Bo with fun facts about him on the back. We are very proud for him and I'm working on getting this framed so he can hold onto it for a very long time.

All of these activities have kept us all very busy. Samuel's birthday is coming and Mike has been working very hard on a playhouse loft bed for him. We are all very excited but Mike especially has really enjoyed his first wood project. We are looking to make it fully equipped with a working door bell & magnetic wall.

Several weeks ago we were able to meet my very dear friend Nathalie in France to enjoy some time with her. She's currently living in Korea with her family however, she is French and was here to see her sister who just had her first baby. I'm so thankful to Nathalie's family for sharing the time that they had with her. Her Father lives about 3 hours from us in the country. He actually joked and said that there are more cows in his town than people. This was truly a great experience for our family. We had a late lunch; authentically French in just about every way. It was outdoors at a long table. Her father grilled wild boar (which he hunts himself), sausages, and pig intestine. It sounds totally gross but was just about the best thing on the platter. After the 1st course there was cheese... lots of cheese. About 12 different types. Bread and salad were served with the cheese, followed up by coffee and dessert. Made special was a Mirabelle pie/tart. Mirabelle are like a small yellow plum but are specific to this region of France. The kids were able to play together while the grownups ate and enjoyed wine and---what else? Champagne!

When we left Nathalie's father had us pick apples from his tree (which was so loaded with apples that he had sticks holding up the branches) also he gave us a jar of Mirabelle jam and walnuts. Needless to say, his generosity is much appreciated and I'm planning on making something to send him. A side note that made me laugh: Her father has buckets of fallen apples at the bottom of the tree. He leaves them there for the boars to eat. He sits outside early in the morning with his rifle and waits.....

Last night was our first time ordering pizza delivery. We ordered from Napoli down in town. We ordered Salami, Hawaiian style, and veggie for me, with a liter of Coke. The total was about 24 Euro so about $33. The sizing of the pizza is smaller than the States, so the medium and 2 family size pizzas looked like a small/personal size and 2 mediums. It was no bargain but hey we are in Europe. Just about nothing is cheap! It was good pizza. Mike said the Salami and cheese tasted like something from Italy. After looking at the webpage it looks like one of the guys that works there also drives the gelato truck through out neighborhood. Big plus to have a delivery service that I can actually order from without knowing German!