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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?

Do you know that song? Ella Fitzgerald sings it best. Just in case you were curious.

It's less than 6 hours from 2010 in Germany and I'm blogging from the kitchen while I listen to the Germans go crazy with the fireworks (no 4th of July here, so NYE is IT for fireworks) and whip up a batch of Russian Tea. I have no idea why it's called Russian Tea, but I do know that it's delicious. We have guests coming over in about an hour and a half. Champagne, wine, and beer are chilling. Shrimp are thawing. Chips are chipping, cheese tray is cheesing and Russian Tea is brewing. The house smells like a holiday made for TV special. I have nothing really to post about, but I couldn't let the year and the decade (remember 10 years ago tonight when everyone was sure the entire world computer network was going to crash sending us back to the stone age? Yeah, that's funny now) end without posting something.

I wish you all a glorious, safe, peaceful new year and look forward to all the things this next decade will bring. If it happens to bring flying cars and household robots who cook and clean, it will be the best decade ever.
Happy New Year everyone and I'll see you in 2010!

Play this. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

RTT: End of 2009 (and hopefully not the world)


My last RTT of 2009! I'm so glad I discovered you, RTT. A good mind dump once a week is incredibly liberating. And often incredibly funny. Or so I've been told. I thought about doing a "best of" from the past year, but then I couldn't get out what's on my mind today and what's the point in that?

*The problem with cleaning out drawers and closets is that it doesn't look like you accomplished anything.

*The wind is crazy today. Cray-z.

*Indy has recently taken in the responsibility of taking out the dogs twice a day because Mr. HH and I are completely lazy felt it was time for him to take on a bit more responsibility plus we're completely lazy.

*I hate thinking of how to decorate for Jan. There's just nothing. No hearts or flowers or patriotic holidays or anything. Just...January. After New Year's there's just not much going on. Any thoughts?

*Why don't I have more to say? Baffling.

*For the longest time I've told people to "ring me" or that I'll give them a "ring" and frequently get an odd look. Do people not understand that this means "call?" Am I the only one who uses this?

*Man, there is stuff just scattered everywhere. Now I know why it was all shoved in closets and drawers. Where did it all come from? I'm looking at you Mr. HH and your love for the reuse it center.

*Indy is working on a 200 piece puzzle he got for Christmas. Every time he gets a piece in place he does the Tiger Woods (bet he wont' remember 2009 fondly) fist pump and says "yesssssss!" It's going to be a long afternoon.

*And finally, because I love a good service announcement:

Oh, RTT, I will see you next year!!! Now, head on over to Keely's and frolic in the random

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Late Night Lunacy

Last night, I was really tired and decided I'd had enough TV and interwebs (I know, I was shocked too) and planned to go to bed. I took my glass to the kitchen and headed to the bathroom. Unfortunately for me, Mr. HH beat me to the bathroom while I went to the kitchen and I was stuck. He shaves at night before going to bed to save time in the morning, so I knew he was going to be in there for a while. Drat. I had to pee but in nearly 15 years of marriage have never, ever voluntarily gone to the bathroom in front of him. He has walked in on me a few times when I've forgotten to lock the door, but I usually shriek like a banshee and hurl things at him (usually rolls of toilet paper) until he leaves. IMO, you shouldn't pee in front of other people if you're over the age of 5 or under the age of 80 (though I'm willing to give the older people some leeway there), unless you're sick or in labor. I have a shy bladder. It's just another of my totally insane cute quirks. While I waited for him to become "silky smooth" (bonus points if you know what really bad, but also funny movie that's from), I decided to clean out the junk drawers in the kitchen. I've resolved to become more organized next year and figured I'd get a head start. Sounds good right?
We somehow have 2juk drawers in the kitchen. They're not big drawers, but man where they FULL! I don't know how it all fit. I'd been at it for about 10 minutes when Mr. HH came out and asked what I was doing and where did all of that stuff come from. I explained that it had all come from the junk drawers and he called me a liar, earning him a patented "crazy eyes" stare that made him back slowly out of the kitchen. It's a skill. I managed to toss, rearrange and relocate enough "junk" that it left me with a completely empty drawer! What to do? Move the spices down and lay them in said empty drawer and free up some much needed cabinet space! I. Am. A. Genius. <--True story. As I'm moving the spices down, I begin to ponder why I have certain spices. I'm relatively certain I've never used cardamon or fenugreek in my life. Where did they come from? I also wondered why I had so many of the same spice. Yes, when we PCS (military speak for move) the packers will pack up our spices to go to the next place, and I do have to pick up a few important spices to get us through until our household goods arrive, but I had 5 (five) bottles of lemon and pepper, 3 bottles of basil, 4 bottles of poultry seasoning and 3 HUGE containers of Old Bay seasoning. Why? None of those spices go together and I can't imagine a Lemon and Pepper emergency, so what was going on? Then it hit me. In my disorganization, I sometimes can't find something I need (even thought the spices are all in the same cabinet) and will run out to pick up a new container. With my spices laying flat in a drawer where I can see them all, rather than rummaging through the cabinet, where I can barely see, I'm hoping to avoid the whole multiple bottle of the same spice thing.

An hour later, my kitchen was in a shambles and I was exhausted, but my junk drawers had become drawer (singular) and my spices were purged and organized. Hurrah! I drug myself to bed, tired, but feeling a high from having accomplished something (despite knowing I would be waking to a crazy disaster in the rest of the kitchen) and then realized I'd never gone to the bathroom. Sigh.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Decor 2009

I was in France during Nester's big Christmas Tour of Homes and by the time I got around to taking photos, it was way too late to join. Sadness. I still wanted to show off my pretties though, so here are some photos for you to enjoy. The color scheme this year was red, white and silver, , which I have to say, I loved. It's all so pretty. I'll be sad to put them away, but am already planning what I want to do next year. :)

Click to play this Smilebox collage: Christmas Decor 2009
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Christmas 2009

I hope you all had a lovely holiday! We had tons of fun. Here are just a few photos of Christmas morning. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The lonliest holiday

A week ago I never knew she existed. Until last night, I didn't know her name. Now I will never forget her. The image of her grief will remain with me. Her husband, Lt. Col James Walton was killed in June of 2008, just 2 days before their 4th wedding anniversary.

No matter how you feel about the wars, past or current administration, think about all those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines serving far from home and the families missing them at home. As you celebrate with your family this holiday season, hug them extra tight and take a moment to remember those who only have a grave stone to hug.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Random Thoughts Tuesday: No kitchen for you!

Does it need and introduction after all this time? I thought not.


*Title explanation: When we were in Bastogne last week for the Battle of the Bulge Memorial March, the Kiwanis set up booths at the midway points for the routes (we did 12k, so we passed the 8k midway point too). And they ran out of food! WTF? We passes the 8k point (which is the route most people take) and thought we'd grab something at the 12k point. We got there and got in line. Just as we up to the front of the line, THEY RAN OUT OF FOOD. I had packed a few apples in our backpack and we used a knife to split them up among our group. 3 apples for 6 adults and 5 children. One of our friends compared me to a certain other much more famous person who fed a crowd with a few fish and loaves of bread. I'm not claiming it, but I think Mr. HH sometimes thinks I have a god complex. Whatevs. So, we finished our route and literally attacked a restaurant in McAuliffe Square. McAuliffe is famous for his reply to the German commanders demand for surrender in 1944: "Nuts!" Anyway, back to the story, the 11 of us pile into this Pizzeria (I won't say the name, but I will say it's IN McAuliffe square and just to the left of Le Grill) and scooped up a few tables. The place was packed, but we managed to squeeze around 2 small tables. Most of the servers spoke English (in fact they advertise the fact that they speak English on the menu), but ours did not. This is not generally a problem as all items are numbered so you point to the number and all is good. Oh, so not. I had a question (because I don't eat meat and ordering is often difficult for me), so another server (who was awesome came over and took my order: margerita pizza with corn and artichokes). An hour later we have no food and the kids are getting a little crazy. We called over the English speaker and he went to find our food. Our server was standing at the bar chatting up some guys. He brings out food, lots of food, but not what we had ordered. Well, some of it we ordered, but a seafood pizza (clams, mussels and shrimp with their heads on) was NOT ordered for a 9 year old. We sent it back. Mushroom pasta was not ordered. We sent it back. 3 dishes ordered did not show. ANOTHER seafood pizza showed up and we sent it back asking for the food we ordered. The server appologized and went back to the kitchen. About 2 minutes later the owner/cook came out and said something in rapid fire French that none of us understood and then pointed to TOM (who had not ordered anything special) and yelled "NO KITCHEN FOR YOU!" before stomping back to the kitchen still chattering in angry French. We all stared at each other for a minute before bursting out laughing. The 3 who had no food got up and walked outside to the Christmas market and got a bratwurst. For the rest of the week, everytime someone got irritated, we'd look at each other and say "No kitchen for you!"

*Whew! That was ridiculously wordy. Sorry about that.

*We were in Paris and Mr. HH was being his usual grumpy self (he can be such a crab) and Indy pipes up from the other room "Quit your bitching, Dad!" Mr. HH and I stared at each other in stunned silence. I went to the other room (Mr. HH looked like his head was going to explode) and told Indy he knew that was a bad word and he shouldn't say it. He agreed, that, yes, it was a bad word, and no he shouldn't say it, but leaned over and whispered to me "But Dad really does need to quit his bitching. We're in Paris. He should be happy." I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling him how right he was. Out of the mouth of babes, my friends. We did have a talk about words he shouldn't say though.

*I forgot to buy a gingerbread house kit this year. Indy is very upset with me over this. I felt bad for about 10 minutes, but got over it.

*It's weird how you forget things about your parents. I haven't lived with my dad in years and I totally forget that he talks to himself. A lot. During his visit, I've had lots of fun listening to him talk to himself about everything. I now know where Indy gets it.

*It warmed up just enough for the precip to turn to rain and wash away all of our snow. Boo!

*3 adults and 1 child should not share 1 bathroom. Our downstairs neighbors have 2 adults and 3 teenagers with 1 bathroom. I don't know how they do it.

*A strand of lights went out on our tree. D'oh! Fortunately I wove them in fairly well (plus there are soooooo many lights that no one but me can tell).

*I love to decorate for Christmas, but by the time I get it exactly the way I want it, the holidays are over and I have to take it all down. :(

*My sign this week isn't funny in the same way the others have been, but still, it made me laugh. I took this at the park in front of the Eiffel Tower last week. Basically a do and don't. Click on it and look at the last little drawing on the right.

Have a great RTT and remember if you're not good, there will be NO KITCHEN FOR YOU!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pocket Indy!

Have you heard? Pocket Indy has his own blog! We discussed it at length and decided it would be best for him to have his own space rather than piggy back on mine. He was nervous at first, but warmed to the idea after I explained that he could say whatever he wanted (within reason) and might even get to educate readers on places he visits. He recently went with us to France and has lots of photos to share in the future. I told him he may have to wait until after the holidays because I have to do all the typing. He tried typing himself but it took forever for him to jump from key to key, so we decided he could dictate and I would type. When I have the time. Anyway hop over and check him out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bayeux-Cathedral and Tapestry

I had never been to Bayeux before, but I can now say it is one of my all time places to visit. In fact, I'd even live there. It was gorgeous and unbelievably charming. Seriously, it had charm oozing from every wall. The cathedral was amazing. How it survived 2 world wars is beyond me. The cathedral was right across the street from our hotel (What? I KNOW!), so after we tucked Indy and O'Pa (my dad) into bed, we walked over to get some night shots. It was stunning.

Click to play this Smilebox collage: Bayeux Cathedral-Night
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The next morning dawned clear and c-c-c-cold, but we had to stop to take more photos. Inside was beautiful too, but to be honest after 685 cathedrals, they all kind of look the same inside. I do appreciate their beauty and am in awe of the fact that this was made long before modern machinery and by hand. Those stone masons were truly gifted craftsmen.

Click to play this Smilebox collage: Bayeux Cathedral-Day
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We walked over to the museum that holds the Bayeux Tapestry. I knew it was big, but good grief, I had no idea. 230 feet long. Hand embroidered. Almost 1000 years ago. I saw this in person and still can't wrap my mind around the fact that women in the middle ages made this thing. By hand! Indy thought it was "double cool." He liked the battle scenes (of course), especially the one that shows Harold Godwinson (the guy who took the crown of England, even though he agreed that William would be king when Edward the Confessor died) with an arrow through his eye. Hurrah. He was super excited when we told him it about the Battle of Hastings. Indy's real middle name is Hastings (that was Mr. HH's idea) so of course that made it super special. They tell you not to take photographs, but I did. Shhhhhh. Don't rat me out. I used the no flash setting on my camera, so there was nothing to disturb the very important light settings (it is 1000 years old and requires special lighting). Plus, we dropped a small fortune in the gift shop. :)

Click to play this Smilebox collage: Bayeux Tapestry
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Bastogne Memorial Walk 2009

This year was the 65th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge that started Dec. 16, 1944. This year it was not that cold, compared to last year, or the year the battle took place, but it was still pretty darn cold. The night before the walk, we went to see a movie about the town of Bedford, VA that lost the most men per capita on the Normandy landings than any other town in the US. It was heart wrenching. The Normandy landings took place 6 months before the Battle of the Bulge and many of the same men who stormed those beaches fought their way across France and into Belgium to fight in the cold to save the city of Bastogne. At the movie, there were 2 WWII vets who actually fought at Bastogne.
I have so many photos there's no way I can load them all here on Blogger, so I've used smilebox to post a slide show. Enjoy, and check back soon for pics from Bayeux, Normandy and Paris.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Bastogne Dec 2009
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Dear So and So: How I've missed you

Dear So and So...

It's been too long! I've missed ranting and raving politely discussing my grievances with my good friends (you guys). Settle in. I've got stuff to say.

Dear Paris,

I love you. LOVE you. With rainbow sprinkles and pink puffy hearts. If you were a vampire, you'd be Edward Cullen. If you were the "Sexiest Man Alive" you'd totally be Johnny Depp. This is how much I love you. I love the weird people, the metro, the food, the shopping and the sites. What I do not love though, is driving through you. You have roads with no effing lanes. No lanes! What is up with that? People need lanes to know where to drive. And roundabouts! Oh, how I hate your roundabouts. Yes, I know they're insanely popular in Europe (why? I don't get the appeal), but a roundabout with 10 different roads coming off it AND no lanes? It's bloody insane. I don't know how there aren't mass casualties on a daily basis. Also, what's with the super tiny road signs on a building? Do you not realize they now make bigger signs that can actually go near the light so people know what road they're on? There is a reason I usually take the train.

White knuckled,

Dear Bank,

Why is it that every freaking time we go away on a trip, you freeze my account when we get back to Heidelberg? If you're so concerned that someone might be using my card (you do know I live in Europe and travel as much as possible, right?), wouldn't it be more prudent to contact me (you have my cell number, use it) and ask? It's really annoying to go to the commissary and have my card denied, even though I know there's money in the account. I then have to call you on my cell (do you know how expensive it is for me to call the States from my cell?) and tell you that, yes, I still have my card, and would you please unlock it so I can buy food to feed Indy before he starves to death. What a PITA. And, in my opinion, if you're going to lock down my card because of all the charges in a foreign country (again, I live in Europe in case you forgot), it would seem to be more prudent to do so at the first sign of unusual activity instead of something so mundane as buying groceries.

Annoyed and apparently poor,

Dear teenage girls,

It's 17 degrees and snowing outside. You do not need to look "sexy." Go inside and put some damn clothes on.

Shivering in my 5 layers,

Dear snowplows,

You're loud. Please come back at a more reasonable hour. I'm trying to watch Glee.

Irritated (but singing awesome songs in my head),

Dear Christmas gifts,

I love pretty packaging. I adore beautifully wrapped presents. I like for my gifts to be so pretty that they look almost too good to open. It seems shallow, but it just makes me happy to see the recipient ooh and ahh over the exterior. Tonight though, I do not feel like wrapping you. I look at you all and think how much work it is to make you so pretty. Sitting on the floor for half an hour just to get you covered, not even in the "pretty" state yet, does sound like fun. If you could just do me a favor and at least get the first layer on, I'd really appreciate it.


PS. I blame my mom for the overwhelming amount of gifts I have to wrap.

Dear Mr. HH,

I'm so proud of you for getting promoted today. You've worked hard and this is a sign of how good you are at...whatever it is you do. Try not to forget though, that I still, and always will outrank you.

MIHH (but you can call my by my real name)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Travel: Bastogne to Bayeux

Bonjour, mes amis from c-c-c-cold France. My dad arrived Friday morning and we were off! We drove from Heidelberg to Bastogne, Belgium and participated in the Battle of the Bulge march. I have to say, compared to last year, I was quite disappointed. There were far more reenactors, but the route wasn't nearly as interesting. Plus, the food stations ran out of food! We did a 12k (7.45 miles) plus all the random walking around town on just breakfast. WHAT? When we finally got back to town, we attacked a restaurant. Still, it was fun. After the walk and touring the museums, we headed to Reims, where we spent the night (read: slept like the dead). After touring the cathedral (below), we drove to Bayeux.

We had to drive the peripherique around Paris and it took forever. Over an hour and a half to go 8 miles! By the time we arrived in Bayeux, it was dark, but that was okay, because this was right across the street from our hotel.

Today, we went to see the Bayeux Tapestry (un-freaking-believable) , tour the interior of the cathedral above and then drove out to St. Mere Eglise and Utah beach. It was freezing but so amazing to stand where they foufht their way ashore 65 years ago.
Tomorrow we're off to Paris (yay!) for a few days and then we're headed back home. I'll have approximately 845,423 photos to show you, so prepare yourself.

Au revoir!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crazy is a good color on me

Get comfy, this is gonna take a while, but it's totally worth it.

For whatever reason me griping and moaning to get the handicapped ramp that ran up the center of our stairs moved to a place that didn't inconvenience those who didn't need it, which would be everyone in the building our building has been the subject of much construction over the last 6-8 months. Seriously, it's been insane. Like me. We had the ramp moved (thank goodness), our maid's quarters redone (they're used for storage now and not maids-dammit), new sidewalks put in (you cannot imagine the noise), new exterior doors, more parking spaces and today new windows in the stairwell. I should mention that installing the new windows involved them smashing the glass because they couldn't pull the casings out without bending them, and they had to remove the glass first. Apparently taking a hammer to all the windows and showering the stairwell with glass was the "most efficient" way. Or maybe the workers just wanted to smash stuff. I know I did. It has been nonstop construction on our building for months, to the point where all the residents are just over it. The very first thing that was done, was actually done in Dec of last year. Our stairwell looked just terrible. It probably hadn't been repainted in at least 10-15 years and really, really needed it. Our building coordinator, TOM-The Other Man, for those who may not know (Mr. HH's "brofriend), called DPW (Dept. of Public Works) and was told there was no money. We asked if we could paint it ourselves if they supplied the paint. No. We bugged them until they "found" the money and repainted. WHITE. Mental Asylum White. It looked fresh, but stark. Since our household goods had not arrived yet, I decided I'd do something to pretty it up. I stenciled fluer de lis (in burgundy) up 4 flights of stairs and under the community notice board painted "Welcome" in a fancy script (the letters were about 7-8 inches hihg). I'm not a big fan of stenciling, but it looked really nice in the stairwell. My neighbors loved it. It looked pretty and helped make it look less like men with white coats would chase you up the stairs and inject you with calming medications. We get compliments all the time on how nice the interior looks. Yay me! This morning when I went to take the dogs out I found a painter rolling white paint over my stenciling. WTF? One of the apt's can't get a new stove, even though hers is a serious fire hazard (because it's 15 years old and the burners are dodgy), because there's "no money," but they can pay a painter to come paint over a stairwell that was painted exactly 1 year ago? I seriously went crazy. I think I frightened the painter. We communicated with our broken knowledge of each others language and made lots of insane hand gestures, while my dogs looked like they were ready to pee on him if they didn't get outside ASAP. I asked him to stop painting until I could call his boss (who knows who I am) and took the dogs out in a freaking monsoon. You know the scenes in Spiderman where MJ has water running down her face and hair, but doesn't care because she's about to kiss Spiderman? Yeah, that was me, only there was no Spiderman for me to kiss. I was literally soaked. I drug the dogs and about 25 gallons of water back into the building to find the painter still painting! He saw me come in and put the roller down and backed away slowly. I can only imagine what I and my 3 waterlogged dogs looked like to him. I told him NOT to paint a thing until I came back down. I ran upstairs and started shrieking the minute I opened the door. Mr. HH was still in bed and practically did a tuck and roll out of the bed, preparing for attack. I think he thought he was back in Iraq. I unleashed the dogs, who looked like I had thrown them in a pond, grabbed my cell, still shouting instructions as Mr. HH and ran back down the stairs. Rose, the amazing woman who cleans our stairwell had arrived and was grilling talking loudly to the painter asking him what he thought he was doing (I was pretty proud that I understood her, being as it was all in German) and then saw me running towards them and asked what was going on. I gave her a brief explanation and she translated between me and the painter. Her English isn't fluent, but she knew enough to get my point across. I made sure she explained that I wasn't angry with him, but the higher ups. He was just doing his job. I called the DPW chief and went 12 kinds of crazy on this poor man (he's the one who sent the painter out). I went on about the constant construction and endless noise, the unnecessary repainting of the stairwell, the fact that things we needed done couldn't be because they never had the money and blah, blah, blah. He talked to the painter for a few minutes and the painter was going on at lightening speed, but I understood when he told the chief (in German) how "the lady came down and said 'No! No! No!" Rose and I looked at each other and started laughing. The painter handed me back the phone and the chief and I went over it again until he said he would tell the painter to stop and they would leave it as is. I thanked him, handed the phone to the painter and rolled my eyes heavily at Rose, who agreed it was all ridiculous. The painter handed me back the phone and told me to have a good day. Then he sprinted from the building as quickly as possible, probably thanking his lucky stars he didn't have to seal with me anymore. At least he'll have a good story to tell at dinner. :)
I came back to our apartment and Mr. HH was still confused and eying me wearily. I went over the whole story with him, in a calmer tone until he understood, but still feared me just a little (I've decided this isn't a bad thing, really-keeps him on his toes). We were getting ready to leave to take Ulrika to the Volvo dealer to get her oil changed when the house phone rang. It was the DPW chief. Weird, since I'd called him on my cell. How did he get my home number? He wanted to know what things our building needed taken care of that we'd been told there was no money for, so I gave him a laundry list (seriously, 3 of the items involved the washers and dryers in the basement that are old and not working properly). He said he'd have it all taken care of within the next week. Including getting my neighbor a new stove! Score! Sometimes it just takes someone getting crazy to get things moving in the right direction, and if that has to be me, well, I'm up for it. Crazy looks good on me. To quote Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) in Shanghai Noon, "I don't know Karate, but I know Ka-razy and I'm not afraid to use it."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent Calendar: An Exercise in Patience

Indy loves Advent Calendars. Loves them. Looks forward to them with the same kind of anticipation usually reserved for birthday parties, or Christmas itself. If you're not familiar with Advent Calendars (and many Americans aren't as they are more a European tradition), they are usually large, slim boxes filled with little pieces of candy hidden behind numbered doors to be opened each day of December, leading up to Christmas. This is the highlight of Indy's day. He takes such joy in the small bit of candy and the fact that it's another day closer to Christmas.
This year, as we perused the seemingly endless varieties of Advent Calendars, Indy couldn't make up his mind which one to choose. He debated about this for days and days. The one with Santa on it or the one with the snowmen? It was a big decision and he talked (and talked and talked) about it for days. There was seriously a point where I was ready to scream if anyone so much as said the word calendar. He'd finally decided to go with Santa (always a good choice) when we went to a local mall and he saw the ultimate Advent Calendar: Playmobil. It was love at first sight. There were 4 different types: Fairies (way too girlie), Equestrian (cool,, Police (awesome) and knights. It was like the heavens had opened and angels started singing. I almost had to wipe drool from his face. Who needed candy when there was Playmobil?
I knew he wanted it so badly, but it was a bit pricey ($20 more than the candy calendars), and I told him that we wouldn't be getting it. He was sad and quiet the rest of the day. The kid talks non-stop and the quiet was rather unsettling. Dh and I talked about it, but decided to stick to our guns and go with the standard candy calendar. Santa would be bringing toys and he would survive. By the next morning Indy was back to his usualy yackity-yack-yack self and told me he had a plan. He decided that he would use his own money (which he hordes with Scrooge like intensity) to make up the difference between what I was willing to pay for the candy calendar and the Playmobil calendar. I was momentarily shocked (mostly because he was going to spend money) and then impressed that he'd come up with the plan. A complex plan what with the paying the difference and all. I agreed and the day before Thanksgiving we went and picked it up. He clutched the HUGE box to his chest and insisted on carrying it all the way to the car. The box shows everything he's going to get, and he wants it sooooooo badly, but getting once piece at a time is killing him. He hasn't asked to open any early, but every day he chomps at the bit to eat lunch so he can open the calendar.

It came with a little background play set. The first day he got one of the knights.

This shows what he gets each day. He can't wait until he gets to open the dragon (Dec. 20).

Anyone else do advent calendars?

Random Thoughts Tuesday! Christmas Trees, culture and dirty houses

Tuesday. Random. Go!

*The Unmom's blog won't let me copy the button for today. Every time I right click the html, it gives me a little popup that says "Sorry, the blog you're trying to access has run out of inspiration. Please try later." Ummm, what?

*Why is it that Mr. HH's contribution to decorating for the holidays ends once he carries the boxes up from the basement?

*I have become obsessed with our Christmas tree. Seriously. It's like a sickness. I swear to you I have moved every ornament on the tree at least 4 times (probably more) and this morning I moved many of the lights. It's actually one of the prettiest trees we've I've ever done, but every time I look at it I feel the need to move stuff around. It's starting to drive Mr. HH crazy (mission accomplished).

*My house looks like a a trashcan exploded. There is packaging, spare ornament hangers, bubble wrap, scraps of ribbon and garland, water bottles, gum wrappers (Indy), blankets, scarves, books and shoes just everywhere. WTH?

*Evergreens were used for winter/feast/solstice celebrations long before the advent Christianity. Because they held their color, they were thought to have mystical powers.

*I coordinate the colors of my tree with the wrapping paper for the gifts. Last year it was blue and silver. This year it's red, white and silver. Very festive.

*My dad will be here in 3 days! I should probably put fresh linens on the bed for him, huh?

*Last week I posted that Indy was walking around humming the British Nat'l anthem. Satakieli, who is seriously cool, commented that she preferred "Rule Britannia" and I realized that's what he was humming. The British Nat'l Anthem is God Save the King (Queen), which we Americans know as My Country Tis of Thee, and is quite possibly the most boring patriotic song ever. Also, why would they use the music for the British Nat'l Anthem for an American song? Weird.

*Indy's had a culture filled 2 weeks. We took him to a symphony 2 weeks ago, on Friday we went to see Handel's Messiah (Mr. HH was singing in it) and on Sunday we went to see the local production of Oliver! which he loved. We just finished reading Oliver Twist as part of our schooling, and he was so excited to see the musical. He was a bit disgruntled though that Bill Sykes got shot instead of hung in the play. He's a bit of a purist.

*Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gothe, consort to Queen Victoria, is credited with making the Christmas Tree (a German tradition) popular in England. Yay Albert!

*My garland fell. Now I have to put it back up. Crap.

*In Greenland all the Christmas trees have to be imported because no trees live that far north.

*I can't figure out how to change from one phone call to a new incoming call on my house phone. It took me almost an hour to figure out how to get the menu in English (not as easy as you'd think), but the flash button? Not a clue. Makes me feel stupid. Why is there no flash button????

*Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, is thought to have been the first to add lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

*Germans sell little candle holders that clip to the tree for REAL candles. Are they nuts?

*I have faux candles (electric) on our tree. Far safer.

*The dogs just knocked over an entire stack of empty ornament boxes. Great. More mess.

*I ordered 2 Playmobil sets for Indy off German ebay, but the delivery service can't get them to me because of the security on post. I had to call and set it up for me to pick them up at the service center. On the phone, I cannot point and make silly hand gestures to get my point across. We eventually got it worked out, but my brain hurts from all the effort.

*Show this to your kids. Make them afraid.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7, 1941: A survivors story

This is the remembrance of 25 year old Adolph Mortensen,.

On Dec. 7, 1941, I was the junior officer of the boiler division of the battleship OKLAHOMA. Following late night duty, I had gone to sleep shortly after 4:00 a.m., that Sunday morning. Less than three hours later, the sound of a voice on the ship's loudspeaker, unmistakably different from the usual announcements, brought me quickly awake. "Air raid! Air raid! This is a real attack, real planes, real bombs!", followed by an obscenity, crackled from the loudspeaker. Wearing only a pajama trouser, I raced for my battle station in a boiler room, as the big ship leaped under my feet from explosions of torpedoes hitting deep in the hull. There were no lights. There was no chance of starting the engines. The order to abandon ship was passed along by voice as the ship began to list steeply. I attempted to get to a compartment with large portholes through which I might escape when the veteran battleship turned turtle and I was propelled into the medical dispensary, its tiled floor, now the sloping ceiling. I found myself with four other men in the dispensary with a small pocket of air trapped above the water, our only source for life. With my feet, I found a porthole below the water. I was able to duck down in the water and turn the knobs on the port by hand. It was an eleven-inch porthole. The first two men got out quickly. The steward was hesitant and I pushed his head through and he pulled himself out. The ship's carpenter, Mr. Austin, a large man weighing over 200 pounds, knew he'd never make it through the porthole. He reached down and held the porthole open for me. I tried to take a deep breath, but the oxygen supply was about gone. As I went out, I scraped my hips squeezing through. I think that is where I lost my pajamas. Mr. Austin couldn't get out. His was the most noble and heroic act a man could perform, knowing full well that his minutes were few. I swam the 15 to 20 feet to the oil covered surface of the harbor. Then, I swam to ropes hanging from the ship's bottom that was still above water. Burning oil nearby sent pillars of smoke skyward. There was a deadly silence over the harbor, interspersed with violent explosions and bursts of gunfire. As far as I can tell, I was the last man to escape from the ship without help. Cutting torches were used to try to free some of those trapped. I got away with nothing but my skin.

Adolph Mortensen passed away November 2000. He attained the rank of Commander in the Navy and spent 27 years teaching High School in Oakland, CA. He was awarded the following medals for his service: American Theater Campaign Medal, American Defense Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 6 battle stars, World War II Victory Medal, Pearl Harbor Medal (Act of Congress 1990), Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Moon on Monday

Okay, so it was really Tuesday, but I've been singing the song (I love you Simon LeBon) since I decided to go see New Moon. :) I swear I think I'm one of the last females on the planet to actually see New Moon. My neighbor and I went and we LOVED it. LOVED. So. Much. Better. Than. Twilight. It's amazing what a difference the budget can make. The SFX were waaaaaaaaay better and the acting was even up a notch.
I feel rather sorry for Esme, Emmet and Rosalie, who didn't get much screen time. And Jasper. Oh, Jasper. He looks so crazy I just can't help but laugh when he's on screen. It's a tragedy too because Jackson Rathbone (isn't that the coolest name?) is such a cutie pie. I think it's the hair in Twilight. I can live with the crazy eyes, but the crazy hair is too much.
Carlisle also didn't get enough screen time. Carlisle is one one my favorite characters in the entire series and Peter Fancinelli portrays him wonderfully. He so warm and kind. It doesn't hurt that Peter Fancinelli is some serious eye candy. I like him even better with his own natural dark hair. PLUS, he's the same age as me.
Once again Billy Burke did a fabulous job portraying Charlie Swan. He looks a bit like Billy Bob Thornton, which I find disturbing, but I can look past that. I'm gracious like that.
Bella still irritated me. She's so whiney and moody my eyes were spinning around in my head like cherries in a slot machine. OMG, you've got 2 gorgeous guys who want you and all you can do is wah, wah, wah. Oh, oh, oh. Poor me. What shall I do? Shut it. Of course some of this may come from my dislike of Kristen Stewart. I think she does a good job on screen, portraying Bella and all her whiney-ness, but she's just such a tool IRL (at least from everything I've read or seen of her). It seems like she does her best to alienate fans and look as craptastic as possible at all times.
I know everyone was all googly-eyed for Jacob (there were a few cat calls at our showing), but he will forever be Shark Boy to me and I just can't find that hot. It's way too creepy to me. I do appreciate the amount of work he did to get that body, but I just can't have lascivious thoughts about Shark Boy. He did a good job on screen, but he's not the one for me.
And finally to Edward. My Edward. I don't understand why they insist on making my poor, sweet, lickable utterly gorgeous Edward look like such a dork. He's not a dork in the books, but on screen they portray him that way (I blame it on the cinematography and all the slo-mo). I really liked how they handled Bella hearing Edward when she did something dangerous.
Now Edward is....delicious. Give me a slim pale boy any day over a tanned muscled tween. It does helps that I'm not old enough to be his mother. Granted I'd have been a teenage mother if Jacob was my son, but still the possibility exists. And that's just icky. Oh, but Edward. Le sigh. I am NOT old enough to be his mother, so just call me Cougar. He can bite me anytime. Plus, he drives a Volvo, and we all know that Volvo drivers are super cool.
In summary: Movie good. Vampires hot. Edward...mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I can haz random?


cute pictures of puppies with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

*I could spend all day on loldogs. What do you think that says about me?

*Should I be concerned that Indy walks around humming the British national anthem?

*I pulled out the Christmas decor this weekend and am slowly decorating the house. I fear I will never get rid of all the glitter that is on the floor, tables, rugs, the dogs and me.

*NaNoWriMo was a big fat FAIL. I'm not all that upset though. I wrote a lot, have a good base for a novel and learned a lot. Huzzah for laziness!

*I am FINALLY going to go see New Moon tonight! I.CANNOT.WAIT.

*I want an apple, but they're all the way in the kitchen. That's like 25 feet from me. {sigh}

*I have to get a cortisone shot in my foot on Thursday. I am so not looking forward to it. Stupid plantar fasciitis.

*My dad will be here in 10 days! We're going to do the Battle of the Bulge Memorial March, go to Riems, Paris, Bayeux and the Normandy Beaches. That's why I have to get the cortisone shot.

*I can never see Karl Rove (he's on the Today Show right now) without thinking of his "rap" at the Press Dinner a few years ago.

*I'm scared to death Mr. HH may have to go to Afghanistan.

*I'm sick to death of hearing about the Selahi's (the White House dinner crashers) and Tiger Woods. Who freaking cares?

*And finally, our random funny sign of the week. Good to know.

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