Monday, December 22, 2008

Not So Merry Christmas...

Well, Santa finally decided to come to Germany. He was at the commissary this week so we decided to pay him a little visit. Landen was a good sport about it (he knows it's not the REAL Santa. Yes, he's questioning if Santa is even real. I think he knows, but I refuse to play along.) Jordyn on the other hand, wasn't much of a fan. I knew before we got there that she probably wasn't going to like him. Man, that was an understatement. She saw him from outside the window and panicked. She clutched my neck, grabbed her arms around me and screamed! Matt took her and did a quick walk by Santa as fast as he could, while I snapped a couple of pictures of the boys. Whew!

Today, we had to make a return trip to the commissary. Jordyn freaked out the second we pulled up, so I had to make a fast entrance into the exit in order to avoid Mr. Claus.

Merry Christmas to everyone who reads my blog. Thanks for reading! I didn't send out any Christmas cards this year, so this will have to suffice.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hayden's Christmas Program

Matt and I had the joy of going to Hayden's Christmas singing at his kindergarten class today. They have been working hard this past month, learning lots of words to Christmas songs. They included 2 German songs, a Spanish song, a song using sign language, and of course the classics. Hayden got to play a solo with his jingle bell on one whole song! I was so proud of him. His face was a little flushed of embarrassment, but he did a great job. I got most of it on video, but don't have it uploaded. For now, here's a few pictures. I just love his teachers!

They also made all the parents a handmade calendar and we have several new Christmas ornaments for our Christmas tree.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last Minute Shoppers

I had this vision to do a post about all of my favorite toys the kids have had. I thought I would do it back in November, yet here it is less than 2 weeks from Christmas and I still haven't done it. So, though most of you are probably finished shopping, here are a few more thoughts for your little ones. If you are done this year, maybe you can hold on to them for next year.

There are so many toys we have bought the kids that they don't play with. Then, there are those few that every child has found much joy with. The ones I am showing can pretty much all be found at Walmart or Target. Here are some of my favorites:

This s a fisher price car racer. This one was bought back when Landen was a toddler and I know they are new and improved, but all 3 of my kids have enjoyed watching the cars race down the ramp time and time again.

Aquadoodle. I bought this for Hayden a couple of years ago and he and Jordyn both seem to love it. It is especially good for toddlers since they enjoy drawing on everything but paper. There are tons of different designs and types now... we have the "Farmer in the Dell" version which plays the song as they are drawing and makes animal sounds.

I'm still trying to figure out little girl toys, but Jordyn plays with her umbrella stroller constantly. She loves to push anything and everything in it and has played with it for almost a year straight.

Yoho Diablo. This was bought by my brothers family for Landen last year. It is definitely for an older child (Landen was 8, but he is pretty persistent at things like this and will work until he gets it.) Some 8 year olds may get frustrated. If your child loves some good yo yo tricks (walking the dog, around the world, rock the baby, etc.) he/she would love this.
Star Wars light sabers! If they love Star Wars, they'll love these. The boys have 5 of them floating around the house, some are more expensive with lights and sounds and some are the $10 version without the bells and whistles. They dress up and play Star Wars a lot. Surprisingly, they hold up fairly well and my kids have given them a good beating.

Jordyn helped model this one. Guitar Hero. The boys have played and played this and I love that it is peaking their interest in music. Again, it's for the older, more coordinated kids. Hayden has mastered it on the easy level and medium level where Landen is working on the hardest level. It does, however feature rock songs which some of you may not want your kids exposed to and I don't like what the "rockers" are wearing in some of the songs. Other than that, it's a lot of fun for all ages. Yes, even mom and dad (I'm terrible at it, though!)

Nintendo DS. These, along with i-pods, have been life savers in the car on long trips. The kids (lots of fun when cousins come too) can link up and play each other.

Magtastik. These are similar to magnetix, which I know some have been recalled for children swallowing. However, these are extremely large and not able to go in a toddlers mouth. They are loads of fun and have provided a lot of entertainment for Hayden and Jordyn. I wish I had more. Landen enjoys the smaller (more dangerous) magnetix. They were exclusively at Target when I bought them, but I have no idea if they sell them anymore.

Only a few more... are you bored?

Shake N' Go Cars/Track. I don't have the track pictured because it's not put together right now, but I highly recommend this toy! The track assembles easily (even with number guides on the bottom) and little kids can shake the cars to make them go. Several children can play at a time if you have several cars with it. It was fairly inexpensive when I bought it and has been well worth the money. I bought Jordyn a pink shake n go car for Christmas, she loves to play on it too.

There are both boy and girl sets of these and different sports. The boys have had fun setting up the figurines and making "plays" on the cloth football field. I know there are soccer ones in boy and girl. I'm not sure what else is available. Again, this is more for a 6 and up crowd, probably. I don't usually go by the recommended age on the box :-)

Kid Laptops. Again, fun for all 3 of my kids. Landen plays the games, though he is getting a little too old for this toy. Hayden loves it and Jordyn just likes to push the buttons and listen to it make sounds. It really is a "teaching" tool and fun at the same time. Again, there's all different versions of these.

The last one isn't a toy, but one of my favorite things. So, for the few men that read this... it's an idea for your wife. :-) You can buy them in many jewelry stores, or order them online which is how I got mine. If you have more children, you can add on a strand as needed. I had to do this after I had Jordyn. I really love it and wear it often.

So, there ya go. Those are my thoughts on Christmas presents. I would love to hear about your favorite toy!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I can't believe my brother and his family are already gone. Time flew by, but we had a great time together. We got to visit Christmas markets, play in the snow, they went to Paris, and best of all we got to hang out at the house and just visit together. Thanks for coming! We already miss you.

We love you! See you this summer :-) Now, we're ready to see Nana and Pops in a few weeks!!

On another note, December 6 is a German holiday called St. Nicholas' Day. As in many other European countries, on the eve of Dec. 6th children place a shoe or boot by the fireplace. During the night, St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, hops from house to house carrying a book of sins in which all of the misdeeds of the children are written. If they have been good, he fills the shoe or boot with delicious holiday edibles. If they have not been good, their shoe is filled with twigs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

They're Here!

My brother and his family arrived on Tuesday morning and we've been having fun since they walked in the door. Time is flying, as it always does with company. I've really been missing my family and AR, so it's been nice seeing some familiar faces for a few days. We had a great Thanksgiving meal, complete with a turkey we bought from Popeyes! Our oven is tiny, so we had to save room for the side dishes and pies. I highly recommend the turkey, it had a great flavor and there was no stress in the kitchen.

So far, they've seen Koln, Trier, and Luxembourg and boy has it been cold! They are heading to Paris for a couple of nights in a few days, so they are making the best of their trip. There are lots of Christmas markets around, so we've been trying some yummy new foods. The kids are getting along great and everyone is in good spirits. Caroline just cracks me up.... and Nicholas cracks me up talking about Caroline. Man, I've missed them.

Here's a few pictures... Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Well, we got our first snow of the season. The kids were up and running around bright and early. They had to get outside before it all melted! Of course, today the sun comes out. It never comes out, but I guess the snow invited it along. Anyway, we've had a fun day of playing and sledding. It is supposed to snow some more tonight and tomorrow. We've gotten a couple of inches, but the roads are already cleared up. We saw them salting last night before we went to bed.

Other than that, there's not much new. Matt's going to have to go to another month long course in the US before he deploys. Ugh. As if 6 weeks of training wasn't already enough... 6 weeks here, 4 weeks there.... 6 months here, 6 months there.... Ok. Sorry, I digressed.

Derek and Shannon, bring your coats! They are coming to visit next week and we can't wait to see them.

I'm off to shop at the bizarre at the base. It happens twice a year. Vendors from all over Europe come in and set up booths of fun and interesting items. Belgium chocolates, Italian wine, Polish pottery, you get the idea... I'm sure I'll find something to spend some money on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day!

I usually don't post anything for this holiday. Today, however I feel I should. Happy Veteran's Day to my husband, and any other Veterans out there that read this.

The military has brought a lot of positive things to our family. I tend to focus on a lot of the negative and thought I would share some of the positives for a change. Growing up, I decided I wasn't going to marry anyone in the military OR a police officer. HA! God showed me, right? I got a double whammy... military AND law enforcement (OSI.) Ok. So, that taught me not to make decisions too soon and never say never. That was lesson #1 learned.

I could go into detail about story after story and lesson after lesson, but I won't. The military has been good to us, overall. Yes, it has its ups and downs, but overall I can't complain. We have gotten to travel and see the world, have free gym memberships, and make new friends all over the US. If it wasn't for the military, I wouldn't have my special friends that I still keep in contact with. I've learned not to count my chickens before they hatch and not to worry about things until they actually happen. Well, I'm still learning that part.

I've gotten to buy/rent a new house every few years which calls for new decorations. I've been lucky enough to stay home with my kids, and my husband has ALWAYS supported me. I've had wonderful support from my family and friends as well. I have proven to myself, that I am a fairly strong person even though if you know me, I cry at the drop of a hat. I've also been fortunate enough for my husband to be with me through all 3 births of our children. A lot of military families are not so lucky.

I'm thankful we have men and women who sacrifice their lives for our country. Matt, I don't tell you enough, but I am VERY proud to call you my husband. While I don't understand someone "wanting" to go to war, I have come to understand it takes a special person. You are one of those and I love you. Now, I'm trying to take one of those lessons learned about not worrying until it happens, but I already fear the time which is coming when you will leave us again to head off to Afghanistan in the Spring. We have gotten through so much together, and I know we will get through another deployment. It will make us stronger, right honey?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saint Martin's Day

(waiting for the parade to begin with their American neighbor friend)

I don't think I posted on this last year. If I did, I know I didn't have any pictures. After living here over a year, we are slowly figuring out what to do when. It only takes a couple of years to figure all this out, and then it's time to move! Last year, we had heard about it but didn't venture out. This year, I just happened to see my neighbors daughter carrying her lantern so I asked her when the celebration was. She told me, so we decided to go check it out.

(Herforst Church)

(before the parade, outside of the church)

(before the parade, these are some of our German neighbors who are very sweet!)

The celebration is Saint Martin's Day. I'm putting an explanation of it at the bottom of the post, if you are interested. In our village, the celebration began at 5:30pm at the church. We didn't attend the service, but stood outside and waited with several others until the service ended and the children appeared with their lanterns. It was a huge turnout. We saw every single one of our neighbors along with their families. The band played songs as we marched through the village with the children and their lanterns. The kids had fun, even though they didn't have their own lanterns this year. A couple of friends shared with Hayden so that made him happy. Next year, we will have our own lanterns! Anyway, we marched until we ended up at a huge bonfire. The band played a few more songs and there was hot chocolate and other goodies to buy. At the very end, they passed out free pretzels to all of the children. Of course, the boys LOVED that part.


(Yummy pretzels!)

It was a beautiful night of perfectly crisp weather. Happy Saint Martin's Day! Here's the details...

German people celebrate the goodness of Martin who was a Roman Knight and later became a Bishop of Tours in the 4th century. According to legend, Martin saved a beggar’s life by sharing his cloak on a freezing winter night. This incident changed his life so much that from that day forward, he dedicated himself to the poor. People celebrate St. Martin’s Day throughout Germany towns in yearly Lantern Parades. A horseback rider, dressed as St. Martin leads the parade. He is followed by a band playing St. Martin songs. The children and their parents enjoy singing these well known songs. In some towns, people continue a tradition of raffling off geese that are carried in a wagon during the parade. Along with the raffle, the parade concludes with a big bonfire, during which sugar pretzels are passed out to the children. People can buy lanterns at most German stores. Some parents help their children to make their own lanterns and some schools have a lantern making contest. It is worth taking the time to find out when the St. Martin’s parade takes place so that your children can also participate.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Hype

I have lots of pictures to post, so the easiest way to do it is through a slide show. I don't think the pictures need much explanation. We started at a school carnival, moved on to a Halloween Party and ended with a Turkey Trot (race) this morning. The kids had fun and it was COLD! Jordyn did fairly well, considering all the scary costumes. She cried some, but not too bad. I wasn't sure what to expect with her this year!

Landen drew the awesome pumpkin design and Matt carved it. I was impressed! Hayden and Landen both ran the Turkey Trot - 1.2 miles. I was so proud of Hayden for running pretty much the whole way with a smile on his face. Landen got 4th place for the 4th grade, so he received a medal. :-)

I hope your Halloween was as fun as ours...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Growing Up

Jordyn's learned she can climb into her bed. However, not without injury....

I think it's time for a toddler bed. (Of course, I was wearing my nice white Talbots shirt. :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Who Wins the Prize?

I never have posted the pictures of our soccer season, so I thought I would take the time to post a few. The boys both had a fun season and enjoyed playing in the cold and rain a lot of Saturdays. It's officially over, so the boys both have a break until basketball practice starts in December.

Hayden made several goals throughout the season for his 5 & 6 year old team and had a lot of fun. Landen played for the 9 & 10 year old league. He played goalie quite a bit and came on strong on offense the second half of the season, scoring many goals himself. He was also voted MVP for his team by his coaches and teammates! He was happily surprised.... Of course, I forgot my camera when they handed out the medals. Sorry, Landen. I need to scan his portrait picture that he had made with Hayden. I'll try to do that soon.

I have many more pictures like the ones below of London, but I'm tired of waiting on them to load. Who wins the prize for having their eyes closed the most?? Hayden. Congratulations!! You win for fakest smile, too. lol