At the Moment

The holidays are quickly approaching and I have been debating for quite a while just how to get back into blogging. I have gone over many "in-my-head" blog posts to play catch up. My friend Raegan keeps checking on me to see if I have updated, and the guilt is getting to me :). I love that she is so dedicated!! I needed that gentle push, I guess.

I have decided to just start where we are at the moment and play catch up as I go.

I wish that I could say that since my last post we have been all of these exciting places and doing wonderful things. Well, not so much. Allen returned home in late September after almost six months of a deployment to the United Arab Emirates. Since that day we have been quietly getting settled into family life again. Allen started a new job that he seems to be happy with most days. We have finished the fall sports season with three kids participating in soccer and cheerleading. Ashlyn started middle school and all of the adventures associated with that! (I personally disliked middle school and all of the drama and insecurities that pre-teens have). That is another post...

Speaking of that particular girl.....she happens to be celebrating her 12th birthday today! This sweet baby was not due until mid-December, but decided that she needed to make her debut early. I think mommy was ready since I had been on bed rest for a week with pre-eclampsia. We brought her home the day before Thanksgiving and we were so unprepared! Suddenly we had grandparents arriving from all over Texas to see Ashlyn. We were dealing with the joys and dramas of new parenthood and a holiday. I also remember that my husband and my dad went to HEB to buy a Thanksgiving dinner package and Allen didn't have enough in the checking bank account to buy it! My dad happily obliged. What an embarrassing moment. We had been so busy with the new baby that we had not kept up with reality. It still feels that way somedays.

Ashlyn is such a vibrant and caring person. She is very mature and smart beyond words. She loves to be a girly-girl, but can also participate in sports activities.

Ashlyn with her teacher after a ballet performance at age 4; RAF Mildenhall, UK.

This was taken by Magic Moments photographers in the UK at age 3.

I know that Ashlyn will continue to make an impression upon others with her creativity and love for life. Several years ago she was featured in the local Beck Row paper for winning a contest for a suncream vendor. The winning funds were presented to her school and put to use for playground renovations!

Happy birthday sweet girl! I have loved you since you were that little baby placed in my arms. I love the person that you are becoming, and I am sooooo looking foward to the exciting years ahead.

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90% Complete

I was jamming along with Queensryche, Lady Gaga and Linkin Park yesterday at the gym. Upon reaching the 3.5 mile point (yes!) on the elliptical, a message popped up "90% complete". It was good timing. I had my eye on the bored two-year-old escaping once again from the gated play area. It occurred to me: This deployment for all of us is 90% complete as well ("YES!"). I started thinking about all of the little jobs around the house that I wanted to get done before he gets home and how I was going to make time to get them done while still keeping up with the kids' activities. As anxiety set in, I began pondering, "Who has had the easier job?".

Allen left in early May for a fun-filled summer opportunity with promises of lots of heat and sand should a sand castle building desire strike him. He has not had an eventful summer and often refers to his days as being similar to those of "Groundhog Day". I wish that he had been able to see more of the Middle East-the landscape and its people.

We have managed fairly well here at home. Sleepovers, friends, Vacation Bible School, fests, and picnics have filled our days. We have also kept busy with family visiting and glorious trips to Paris, Garmisch/Austria, Luxembourg, Riems, Trier, and Bernkastel-Kues. I feel somewhat guilty that he was not able to join us, but knowing that this is our last full summer in Europe...we needed to see some places!

It is hard being the only parent. It seems to be a time when everything breaks....or needs to be cleaned out...or up. I've had to be the "bug manager". I've had to get a part changed on the van and change out headlight bulbs. I've taken out the trash/recycle items.....mowed the grass that was knee high. I've cleaned out storage containers and still *sigh* need to clean out more before we pack up next summer. I've wiped noses and taken care of summer coughs. I've read books, helped with homework, colored Lightening McQueen pages and cleaned up Play-doh. But, I've been able to get the hugs, the kisses, the early morning wake ups....and don't forget the spilled cereal......

So, yes, I have definitely had the harder part physically to take care of five children and a house-and myself. However, I have been with them for all of the glorious summer events, smiles...and trips.

I have the memories.

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We've been climbing the walls and staying busy

Lauren (9) almost to the top!

We went to the new Outdoor Recreation Center at the Kaiserslautern Military Center. Yes-government dollars hard at work! The kids had a blast getting into the gear and climbing the walls, as compared to making me climb the walls!
Ashlyn (11)
Ryan (4)
Nicholas (6) is almost to the top on the far wall. Whoop!

It's hard work chasing your brothers and sisters around all week~even if you're Batman.

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What are the odds?

In a house with five children, you would expect to have a few lonely socks that were needing a friend. I have a box on my washer that holds the single socks looking for a mate that I clean out every so often. Obviously it has been a while.

Look! Unbelievable!!! (I'm sure my mom would cringe about now).

What are the odds that we would have this many socks?????

And why do we own this many socks??? These are just the ones looking for a friend!?!

We have just recently stopped wearing many socks because warmer weather (finally) has meant warmer feet and less sock necessity. I guess I thought the matching sock would turn up in the next load. Crazy thinking.

I did end up doing some match making and some socks were reunited. Sadly, many were subjected to my tyranny and went into the trash bin.

To make myself feel better about throwing away all of those socks (because you KNOW I will find them someday behind a bed, in the toy box, in a bag, behind the dryer, in the LEG0S....)-

I bought these.

Peonies are one of my favorites. I remember my Mema having them in her garden. How can they not brighten your day?post signature



Nicholas had a great T-ball season. This is the second year that he has played, so next year will be coach pitch. The season only lasts 6-7 weeks, but we were constantly second-guessing the weather and getting rained out several times. Nicholas had #6 this year, and last year apparently . Initially this very traumatic since it's all about the number, right??

He had some pretty good hits this season, one of the best being after his dad left. We wish Daddy had been there to see it! A double! In T-ball world, that is great when it goes into the outfield on its own (i.e. somebody doesn't kick it out there).

All little brothers must play in the dirt while waiting for the game to end. It's in the rules. I checked.
At the end of the season there must be a cookout with sticky cupcakes. You must eat two. Again, I checked the rules.

A trophy=happiness. Whatever happened to all of my trophies from my childhood?? Probably in the attic at my dad's house, just waiting for me to retrieve them someday. Eeeek.
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Summer, already???

It seems like yesterday we were welcoming spring! Ryan's kindergarten class had a Fruhlingfest in April to welcome spring. They sang songs (in German) and wore flower hats. They tied these little ribbons on a tree as a sign of the upcoming spring days. On a side note, I volunteered to bring a cake to share. In the UK the American cakes and cake mixes would sell quickly at school events because the British cakes tend to be dense and not as sweet. Interpret this as not very tasty. I'm sorry to admit this, but I did not like the cakes in the UK. There were many, many other things that I liked though!! Okay-anyway----I thought that bringing cupcakes would be a hit. Only several people took the cupcakes and here is why~~~You should have seen the cakes that people brought!! They were gorgeous! They had these fancy designs and cream frostings. I had to ask if they were store-made. That's how fabulous they were~they put my cupcakes to shame, even if my cupcakes had the cute caterpillar icing decors on them and were stacked nicely on the cupcake stand. They didn't stand a chance.

We experienced the longest day of the year yesterday, although we didn't see much sun! It was a strange weather day where the sun would be out, then cloudy, then rain and wind, sunshine, cloud, etc. We have had a mild spring/summer so far in Germany. You just never know about the weather from day to day! It makes planning ahead for outing and clothing very difficult!! There have been several days that were warm enough to swim outside in the pool or play in the water, but most have been mild with sun/clouds.

Now that it is finally summer, we are planning on spending more time here.

Or doing this.

Admiring these.

Hopefully we can do more of this!!

Or maybe just doing this.

You never know where you will find us this season.

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My other half

I wouldn't have five children if it weren't for my wonderful husband. Except for the obvious reasons, I just could not do it without his daily help and support. He is a loving and fun dad-sometimes finding humor in a situation when I am thoroughly annoyed. After working long days, he often comes home and helps with dinner, dishes, after school activities, homework-you name it. He is always ahead of the game when it comes to gift giving occasions-never skimping or forgetting. He doesn't even mind if I buy myself flowers frequently- for no occasion at all.

Before we got married we discussed having children, but I do not think that the number five was ever part of the equation. We had no idea how our lives would change and be enriched by these vivacious little people.

Today we are celebrating him, even though he is stationed far away in a desert location. Maybe he is building sandcastles today? The kids talked with him briefly today since we had used up most of our hour earlier in the week. They sang "Happy Father's Day" with the birthday tune.

Before he left he mentioned that one of the things that he would miss the most is having them run and hug his legs when he came in the door after work. I am beginning to really miss that, too.

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Burg Eltz

Last month I embarked on a road trip with two other moms and twelve kids (!!!) to a place between Trier and Koblenz to see this:

Isn't it magnificent!!
This is a medieval castle nestled above the Moselle River. It has been owned by three branches of the same family for 33 generations. You can read more about the history here or here . This is the view that you get as you leave the car park and walk down the path. It was a steep 800 meters down to the castle along a curvy road (and a fun walk uphill. Eeeek.)

We stopped to take a few pictures and climb up some rocks.

This is the long road leading to the castle. Scenic, yes?
This is the view from that window in the wall. It is a long way down!!

After lunch, we went inside for a tour of some parts of the castle. viewed the treasury, and had ice cream. There were some very interesting features in the castle like the dragon around the water drain pipe, the non-bolted spears and weapons in the weapons room (the two-year-olds discovered this, surprisingly).
Here is the (loose) weaponry. Eek. Wouldn't that be fun to have "the child" who pulls down the weapons as the guide is speaking?? I'm so fortunate that we noticed. Several months ago, we were "shushed" during our Cochem tour by the guide because Logan was whining. Blah.The following pictures were taken inside the courtyard. Apparently a family (or is it two) still reside in the castle. Cool, yet I believe it would get old dealing with all of the tourists.

Next, we had ice cream (eis). We don't have any pictures of this. I was either enjoying my own chocolate cone and talking with the moms, or I was wiping multiple sweet, sticky faces and fingers.

Since the kids had behaved (erhem, most of the time, really) we went down to the river to play in the stream. They loved it!! The little boys stood there throwing rocks, both small and large into the water. We realized it was fruitless to tell them to stop when this 70-ish German man rolled up his trousers, waded out and threw some rocks with his granddaughter. We laughed about it, even with the nice German man, who did speak some English. The girls were more adventurous and waded further along the stream.

The day ended with a stop at a McDonald's in Trier where we took up residence for quite a while so the kids played at the playground and moms chatted. We stayed out way past bedtime, but it was worth it!

As we left McDonald's I noticed this right next to McDonald's and thought it was ironic, yet a marketable idea. McFit is a fitness place where you have the option of paying by the hour or month. I guess you can eat your Hamburger Royale (i.e. Quarter Ponder) and work it off next door!?! Has this idea made it to the USA? I have been away too long to know.