The journey of a thousand miles begins with...the perfect pair of shoes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How far we've come.

If you've ever moved you know that you can often find treasures you didn't know you still had. It's like an archaeological dig of your own past. We've moved many, many (many) times so we're frequently uncovering the same things, but after you see them again, you put them away and forget until the next move.
M and I were going through some old files in the filing cabinet the other day and came across some stuff that made us laugh. There were letters we'd sent back and forth when he was in basic training (oh, I miss you, I can't live without you, I can't bear the seperation, blah, blah, blah), photos of crazy stuff we did the first time we lived in Germany (1997), a target he'd used for weapons qualification in 1998 where he hit the bulls eye (that would be the heart-these are people shaped targets) more than once. Far more interesting than all of that though were a stack of old LES's. That stands for Leave and Earning Statement and is basically military speak for "pay stub." He, for whatever reason, had kept the majority of them from his entire career (he gets 2 a month and has been in for 12.5 years-that's a lot of paper). We decided to shred them, because, well, why keep them? We did decide to keep a very select few though. Like the one from May 16-30, 1996. He had been in the military for 2 months. His net take home pay was $327. $327! For 2 weeks! Granted we lived in post housing so we had no rent, electric, water or sewer to pay (thank heavens), and had no children but still. $327? That's almost laughable. I had just moved to CA to be with him and had not found a job yet, so his salary was it. I'm utterly amazed that we somehow lived on less than $700 a month. In CA, no less. I remember those days and they were actually not too bad. Sure we ate a lot of mac and cheese and rarely went, well, anywhere that wasn't free, but still it wasn't bad. We lived on love, I suppose.
He maked significantly more than that now (thankfully, because a girl's got to have shoes you know) and we live a fairly comfortable lifestyle. It's nice to see where we've come from though and to know that we absolutely stuck it out through "poorer." Now if only the "rich" part would come along. Mama would really like a few pair of Ferragamos.

Monday, September 29, 2008

On the road again...

So, guess where I am! Go ahead, think about it. I'll wait. No really, take your time. I'll just hum the Jeopardy theme song in my head. Take all the time you need. Oh, wait, need a hint? How about this?

Pretty huh? Do you know where I am? San Diego! I know what you're thinking, with all I have to do before the big move, what am I doing in San Diego? Am I on vacation? Has the pressure finally gotten to me and I've snapped and run away? No, no, neither of those. Though I have come dangerously close to the second on more than one occasion in the last week or two. Actually I am in lovely San Diego to ship my sweet Ulrika Von Nordland to Germany. This isn't her, but it's a very similar model and in the same color:

I love her. I am NOT too sexy for my Volvo. In fact, I think I'm just sexy enough for her. She's zippy, good looking, comfortable, roomy and has lots of cool bells and whistles. Tomorrow I have to take her to the shipping place and hand her over. They'll load her onto a boat and she'll cross the ocean to Bremerhaven, where she'll be loaded onto a train and then taken to Mannheim where I'll be able to see her again. She probably won't be there until mid-November at the earliest. I'll miss her! I'm afraid she'll think I've abandoned her. Stay strong Ulrika! Stay strong.

The drive out here was just a hair under 500 miles. 500 really interesting miles and guess what? I forgot my camera! Can you believe it? Gah!!!! I saw some really cool stuff too. I'm so sad I can't share it with you in pictures. I'm flying home, so I doubt I'll pass that way again any time soon. The first hundred or so miles were pretty boring. I did pass through 2 border check points. Being blond and pale enough to make a piece of paper look tan (M's words) I was merely waved through, while other cars were pulled over and searched. Oh, at the CA border they DID ask me if I had any agricultural products with me. If you do (raw fruit or veg or plants) they will take them away from you. Isn't that weird? I have this insane urge to smuggle in a package of starwberries and chuck them out the window and spread the "rest of the US" plague. California thinks it's so special!

Just after I crossed into CA, the landscape changed drastically. The desert went from hard packed dry scrub dotted with huge, many armed cacti that is so typical of the southwest into rolling sand dunes and occasional palm trees. I kept expecting to see Lawrence of Arabia coming riding across the sand at any moment. It was so cool! Well, actually it was quite hot (well over 100), but you know what I mean. It was really beautiful in its own way.

I also got to see "the fence." That great big, incredibly expensive fence on the US/Mexico border that doesn't really seem to deter illegal imigration. There were tons and tons of border patrol along the fence. They looked so bored and hot. I hope the gov't pays them well. I thought the fence was interesting, but maybe I'm just a dork.

The sand dunes eventually went flat before giving way to massive (massive!) boulder mountains. I really wish I had remembered my camera. These mountains were absolutely amazing. You know how in cartoons and old Star Trek episodes (the ones with Capt. Kirk) had big boulder mountains that look all innocent, but then suddenly stand up and are these weird boulder creatures? That's what they looked like! I kept expecting an army of boulder people to stand up and pick up all the cars like toys. Maybe I just needed some sugar.

Eventually I came through a national forrest and mountains with incredibly steep inclines and declines. I came through 2 more checkpoints (I was really close to Mexico) and a strange little town called Alpine. I had to stop for gas and noticed that there were several little Swiss chalet looking buildings along the mountains. It seemed so out of sync with the Spanish style homes and buildings I'm used to seeing.

I finally got to SD and it is lovely! I've never been here before. M and I lived in Monterey when he first joined the Army, but we were poor back then (seriously) and couldn't really afford to travel around much. I'm staying near the airport in an area called Hillcrest. It has a great vibe. There is a cafe/bistro/deli/small family owned restaurant on every corner and sometimes smashed up against each other. Small boutiques, art galleries, jewelers, and gift shops, all with charming and kitchy awnings or signs above the store fronts make up the rest of the streets. There were people out walking or dining at outdoor tables at 9:30 at night! Man, I miss city life.

Well, it's late and I have to get up early to give Ulrika one more good bath in the morning before I turn her over. They won't take a dirty car, but when they give them back, they're filthy! Covered in salt water and bird droppings. My poor Ulrika! She deserves better than to be on an open deck. She should have her own cabin! Okay, I'm tired and getting weird. Good night!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Moving day getting close! And there's so much to do.

So, after much red tape, a billion forms, more appointments than I can remember, faxes, photo copies, and signatures galore, we are almost set for the big move to Germany. Almost. It's such a hassle. We had to change our flights 3 times to get space for the dogs. We originally supposed to fly to Dallas and then on to Frankfurt, but if the weather is over 85 degrees the airlines will not allow the pets on board. While I understand this policy because I certainly don't want anything to happen to them, I questioned the airline what we would do if it were too hot. Their solution? We're going to have to just leave the dogs behind. Um, what? That is not a solution! I can't just leave my babies. I was so mad I could barely see straight. We finally got a flight through Denver, so we're pretty sure all is going to be fine. Probably not going to be over 85 in Denver in late Oct. Dallas? Maybe. Denver? Unlikely.
We are scheduled to fly on Oct 20. We have a 6 hour layover in Denver (where we can get the dogs and let them potty-very important) and then a 10 hour flight to Frankfurt. After that it's an hour car ride (driving very fast on the autobahn) to our final destination. It's a total of about 19 hours of traveling, not including getting to the airport and checking in 2 hours before our first flight. Aren't you jealous?
First though we have to pack out. The movers are coming on the 2nd to pack our unaccompanied baggage. They're coming back on the 3rd to pack our permanent storage items (stuff that we can't take with us because a) it's not allowed b) it's too heavy or c) we're not going to have room for it). They will store it at gov't expense for the entire time we're in Europe. Then they're coming on the 8th, 9th and 10th to pack the rest of our stuff and will then load it on the 14th. It's scheduled to arrive no later than Dec 17th. I hate moving around the holidays!
Anyone willing to let me come visit until all this is over???? Please???? I'm going to need more Zoloft.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I've never been tagged before. I feel so special! Tales From the Beehive (awesome blog, check it out if you've never been there) tagged me today.

So, here are 7 completely obscure things about me that you probably never wanted to know and will probably make you stop reading my blog.

1. I hate drinking out of plastic (except water bottles). It just weirds me out. Just thinking about it makes my teeth hurt.

2. I don't eat beef or pork because the thought of chewing it makes me gag. (I have serious food issues).

3. I once had a boyfriend who left me for a man. Talk about a blow to the ego. Also, I recently discovered that another former bf of mine is gay. Coincidence?

4. I believe in past lives. I think we get more than one chance to get it right before going to the great beyond.

5. One of my hobbies is egging. Don't know what that is? You take real eggs (goose, emu, ostrich, duck, quail) and cut, carve, paint, etc to turn them into works of art. I'm thinking of starting an etsy shop. Here are a few examples:

6. When I was a junior in High school (I went to a chi-chi all girls school) the powers that be took away the cushions to the furniture in the student lounge for some unremembered infraction. All that was left were the wood frames. It was uncomfortable! One of my BFF's (the one who got married recently) and I made a big sign that read "Welcome to Stalag 17" and hung it over the door to the lounge. The administrators went crazy. They asked the perpetrators to come forward, but we never did. I was nervous for the next 3 months that we would get busted and suspended.

7. I hate coffee. And I mean hate it. With a passion. I don't even like the smell of it, I hate it so much. Also, coffee breath is heinous.

That was hard! And now I have to tag 7 other people. Hmmmm......let me think.

Randomly chosen from my comments:

GRRRR! It won't let me link or even list them! WHAT UP BLOGSPOT??? I left comments for them. Please leave a comment here if you participate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Are you guys sick of fall posts? I hope not! I fall'd up my house a wee bit yesterday. I guess you could say I "POOPIE'd" it up. Man, that does not get old! Or maybe it's just me. Whatever. I haven't done a lot, because, well, we're moving in....2 weeks? 3 weeks? A month? Who knows? With transatlantic moves, we probably won't get our stuff until, oh, January or so, which means I won't get to do much decorating for the other holidays either. :( Can you all imagine what it's like to have Christmas without all your Christmas stuff? It stinks, I tell you. We've done it once before and it was depressing. I wanted my stuff! I hate moving around the holiday season. Boo! Okay, meaningless rant over, on to my pretties, however temporary. If you want to see the originals (pre-fall), you can click on the original POOPIE post.

Remember my lemon jar, that so many people liked? Tada! Black beans, POOPIE pumpkins and POOPIE leaves:

Here's another POOPIE jar. (I'm so laughing on the inside at that):

More black beans, POOPIE leaves and some candles. I forgot to buy candles for the two side votives. Gah!

I moved my eucalpytus to this urn and put some POOPIE leaves in the little jar.

This vase held my green onion grass. I flipped it over and put a POOPIE leaf garland inside and a pumkin (POOPIE approved) on top.

And now, like everyone else in blog land, I have this awsome little decoration that Indy absolutely loves. I also added a POOPIE pumpkin and some leaves to the birdcage.

Remember the second biggest of my POOPIE offenders? The PLASTIC plant? Oh, I fall POOPIE'd it up.
And finally for my BIGGEST POOPIE offender, the ivy. I pulled the leaves off the extra fall garland I had and popped them onto the little spokes.

And now, for something totally not POOPIE (unless I'm mad at him and then, maybe):

He doesn't like this pic because his uniform is all bunched up and he says it makes him look fat. He's not. BTW, he was watching crazy videos on YouTube. Productive!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We remember

Seven years ago today the world changed. The world of the military family changed in ways that few can understand. We started hanging blue star banners in our windows, said goodbye to our loved ones, not knowing if we'd ever see them again, and glued ourselves to the news, eschewing food and sleep for fear we might miss something important. Sadly, we also began attending funerals of our friends spouses and were silently and guiltily thankful that it wasn't our husband laying in the flag draped coffin. We grew to fear things that would never occur to a civilian family: a knock on the door when no one was expected, dark blue or white mini-vans (what they arrive in to tell you the news you don't want to hear), and radio silence from our spouses unit (this means something has happened and they have to let the family know before it leaks out). We became suspicious. Who was that man lurking around the gate of the base? Who was that odd looking person staring at us in the store? We tried not to be suspicious of everyone of middle eastern descent, but it was hard. We grew to hate the news, but couldn't turn it off. We cried. A lot. Never in front of our children because we had to remain brave for them. We lived for 3 am phone calls that were static filled and lasted only for a few minutes. They had called. They were safe. We tried not to pay attention to the occasional explosion we could hear in the background of those phone calls. We waited. Waited for the day they would finally come home, months, sometimes more than a year after they left, and tried not to think about the day we would have to say goodbye yet again sometimes less than a year after they returned. Our world was no longer dominated by complaints of bad military housing, low pay for ridiculously long hours, broken items from the recent move, unexpected orders to move when you just got your house set up or 2-3 month long training exercises.. We now had something completely different to think about. We had to think about what we would do in that "worst case scenario." We had to talk to our spouses about what their wishes were for their funeral if it came down to it. Believe me, this is not an easy conversation to have. Many had to explain to their young children what had happened, why daddy or mommy had to go away and some had to explain why they would never come back. All because of one day in September.

At the end of August of 2001 M and I left our post in GA (we were so glad to see that post in our rear view mirror) and went to visit our families before we moved back to Germany. M was due to fly on Sept 18, and the dogs and I would follow a few weeks later. The morning of Sept 11, M, my mom and I were watching the Today Show (we were staying with my mom). The lead story of the day was Michael Jordan's return to basketball. I was lacing up my walking shoes, looked over at M and jokingly said "Must be a slow news day." He laughed and agreed and then we took off out the door. M went for a run and I went for a walk. I came home after 2 miles and M was still out as he had planned a 6 mile run. My mom was on the phone and cleaning the blinds in her breakfast room (isn't it weird the details you can recall?). I looked at the ginormous TV in the living room and saw smoke coming from one of the Towers. I walked back into the kitchen and asked my mom what was going on. She had no idea. I flipped on the TV in the kitchen and we stood watching it Tower smoke. M walked in and I told him what I knew, which was nothing really and he came up behind me. We were all staring at the small TV, listening to Matt Lauer talk about an apparent freak accident when the second plane hit the other Tower. My mom grabbed my arm and uttered a shocked "Oh my god" before dropping down into a chair. M wrapped his arms around me and said quietly "This is not an accident. This was planned. We've been attacked." I started crying right then. I cried as I watched reports of other planes crashing. I cried as I wondered where every person I'd ever met was. I cried as I took a shower. I cried as I watched people leap from the Towers, the Towers crumble one after the other, as people ran from the debris and as people begged on camera for news of their missing brother, father, son, sister, mother, daughter, husband, wife. At one point I wondered if I'd ever cry again after all I had cried that day. Surely I was using up every tear my body could produce. I remember watching the news anchors, generally stoic no matter what, tear up and their voices break. That was somehow more frightening to me than almost anything. It was the longest day I can remember. And in such vivid detail. I know my brain stores everything, but it rarely recalls anything with such clarity. Not my wedding day, not the day I graduated college, not even the day Indy was born a little less than a year after the attacks. That day though, that one beautiful Tuesday, I can see in my mind as clearly as if it were yesterday.

Those who know me, know I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. Almost sickening really. There's a quote from one of the books (written more than a year before the attacks) that always strikes me as incredibly appropriate for remembering this day:

"We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are
divided...Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our
aims are identical and our hearts are open."
-Prof. Albus Dumbledore
JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
(p.723, Scholastic Press, New York, 2000)

Never Forget. God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

P.O.O.P.I.E.S. Unite!

What, you haven't heard? The Nester has yet another party going on. I'm beginning to think somebody just likes to party. I'm just sayin.
This new party is about P.O.O.P.I.E.S. (People Opposing Objectionable Pretend plants In the Environment). Sadly, I am a rebel rule breaker. I've got faux plants/fruits/vines in my house. Gasp! Shudder! The horror! The hor-ror! Oh, hush up, you do it too. Don't lie. So, here are some of my faux pas.

This is is onion grass. I actually think it was alive at one time, so maybe it's not too bad. Except that it's been dyed blue. I'm pretty sure onion grass isn't blue in real life. Oh, and in case you're wondering that's me and M at Stonehenge in the photo.

Here are some pretty little blue flowers in a jar and some potpourri. I dig the flowers. Soon they'll be switched out with fall leaves or something. Probably faux again. Oh and the little boy in the photo is my grandfather in about 1904. He was born in 1899. Isn' he adorable in this photo? He was 2 months shy of 50 when my dad was born. My grandparents slept in seperate beds for the rest of their lives after my dad came along. Wonder why?

Hey look! More onion grass! Probably not quite this green when it was alive though. Oh well.

Ooooooh, here's a BIG offender. It's PLASTIC! Ahhhhhhhhh!

I showed you all my 'B' wall before, but I thought I'd toss it in again as it's got a faux rose wreath on it. I actually love this wreath. The roses look pretty real. Or as real as they can considering they're not.

Lemons! In a jar! Actually these fooled my mom. She asked what I was going to do when they rotted. Teehee!

I loves me some eucalyptus. It smells so good. Wasn't it alive once? That's my grandparents in the photo the year they got married (1927). Yes, that's my grandfather who was the little boy in the pic above. He grew up to be quite handsome. And my grandmother is rocking the roaring 20's look.

More eucalyptus. Those tall stick things in there? Plastic. Oh yeah, breaking all kinds of rules here! Hahahahahaha!

Oy, here's my biggest offender. Fake (so fake I can't even pass this one off as 'faux') ivy. Shield your eyes! Run screaming! 50 lashes for me! I know, I know, but that ledge really needed something and since we're about to move again (for the 2nd time in 3 months) and can't take real plants with us, this will have to do for now. BTW, are you totally digging that awesome light fixture in the far right? Oh yeah, the military spared no expense when they built this house. Fancy!

Close up! Be careful. Do not look directly at it. It's like a solar eclipse. Look at it too long and you might burn your retinas.

So, what are your offenses?

ETA: I have posted some Fall POOPIES! Check them out!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

School stuff

I previously showed you our Amber Dig on Fun Friday, so I thought I'd show you some of the other stuff we do/did/use in our homeschooling.

When we studies dinosaurs we made a paper mache bone out of a paper towel tube, crumpled newspaper and 100 mile and hour tape (it's an Army thing-they call it that because it's supposed to hold up to 100 mph). I learned something that day: I do NOT like paper mache. MESSY! Indy liked though. And yes, he is wearing an old shirt backwards. M contributed it to the cause. The cause being keeping Indy's shirt clean.

Cool huh? We painted it white but I forgot to take a picture of that.

This is a little game we play with site words. See those M&M's? If he can read all the words in front of it (starting from the bottom left) he can eat the M&M. If he gets a word wrong he's got to start over. I'm a freaking genius, I tell you.

This is the chalkboard we use. They were obviously taken a while back. In case you're wondering, the word below Wednesday is how you say it (Wed) in German. We also talk about the weather and how you would write the date numerically.

This is our wipe board. Like the frame? 70% off at Hobby Lobby! Cost me $8! Woohoo! Yes, I do realize these are HUGE words for a 6 year old, but I don't believe in dumbing things down for him. We discuss every word and I quiz him on the meaning. I don't expect him to read them just yet (though that would be awesome), just be familiar with them.

And look! We made a volcano! There's a small water bottle in the center, surrounded by crumpled newspaper and 100 mile an hour tape (seeing a trend here?) and covered in air dry clay. After the clay dried, we painted it (actually Indy and M did this while I went shopping-yea!). Isn't it cool?

Look at it explode! Here's a tip, if you put a few drops of liquid dish soap inside the volcano with the baking soda it will bubble for a long time. Also, a few drops of red and yellow food coloring in the vinegar makes it look more like lava. I think M and I liked this as much as Indy did.

I can't even begin to describe how excited Indy was when I pulled out this new box of crayons. He's never had such a variety of colors before. The possibilities are endless. I can only imagine how much he'd love the box of 96.

We're beginning our study of archaeology, which is obviously right up Indy's alley. This was how he spent some of his outside time today. Isn't he adorable?

Tell me you can't hear the theme song when you look at this picture. Dum-dee-dum-dummmm. Dum-dee-dum. Dum-dee-dum-dum. Dumm-dee-dumm-dum-dum.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My new look

So, what do you think of the new layout? Isn't it lovely? Guess what? It was totally free!!! Can you believe it? Leelou is a fab designer and bless her heart she has a ton of gorgeous templates that she just gives away. If your blog is in need of a face lift, please check her out. The template was easy to install, which was one of my favorite parts (besides the whole free thing, that is).

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