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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

"It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray-haired. But most of them were boys when they died, they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for their county, for us. All we can do is remember."

— Ronald Wilson Reagan, President of the USA
Remarks at Veteran's Day ceremony
Arlington National Cemetery Arlington
Virginia, 11 November 1985

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spoiled by (near) perfection

Oh, sweet reader. Have you missed me? I missed you all. Believe it or not, I did actually think about you while I was gone. I blog posted in my head and in MS Word. Disney, for all their fabulosity charged .75 a MINUTE for interwebs on the high seas. What?  Other than to tell my mom that we were all fine and to post a few quick photos on FB I was not on the interwebs.  To be honest, I was too busy.  Let me tell you a story of decadence, opulence, and pure bliss.
From the moment you board the ship, you are in another world.  A world where reality is skewed (but IMO, in a really good way).  A world where dishes, laundry and picking up after your family don't exist.  A world where food is beautiful and thoughtfully prepared and no one says they don't want to eat it.  A world of magic.  They assigned people to wait on us.  Disney's dining is set up in a rotation of 3 main restaurants.  You have other dining options if you don't want to eat in one of the 3, but if you do, you must do so on the nights designated by your rotation.  Your servers rotate with you.  Each table has 3 servers assigned to them.  Ours had, I think, 3 or 4 tables, which gave them plenty of time to spend with each one.   They knew our names, our likes and dislikes, what we would be drinking and how we liked our food prepared.  Every night, after I ordered desert, a cup of tea magically appeared in front of me.  I asked for it the first night (when given a choice of coffee or tea) and every night after that it simply appeared, with a small container of milk, not creamer.  No need to ask.  One night I didn't like what I ordered and it was immediately whisked away and a replacement meal suggested was served withing minutes.  One night Mr. HH and I couldn't decide which desserts to order, so our server brought us one of each.  Crumbs were brushed from the table between meals.  Indy's food was cut for him.  And I didn't have to do it!  What sort of wondrous place was this?
During the days at sea, Indy was taken care of while Mr. HH and I slept or sunbathed.  Indy begged to go to the "land of magic and enchantment" (as I came to think of the play place) before breakfast was finished.  He didn't want to leave for lunch or dinner.  He loved it.
Amazing shows were performed for our pleasure!  Broadway style shows with amazing sets, costumes and acting awed us.  There were magicians, singers and comedians!  How was this all possible?  Disney, my friends, Disney.  Oh, sure, there are those of you who scoff at the thought of Disney and its squeaky clean image, and you're allowed to (I think you're wrong, but that's only because you've never been so completely surrounded by the magic and are therefore unaware of what it feels like), but believe me, they know how to make a person feel pampered and special.  There were approximately 2000 "guests" on board, but they make you feel like you are the only one that really matters (which in my case is totally true, but it's nice that they make others feel like that too).
Oh, there were ports of call too.  Beautiful ones; stunning ones; amazing ones.  It was almost like a dream.  It was as close to perfection as one can possibly come in a vacation.  With one small exception.  What?  Something went wrong?  Oh, yes, sadly it did, and no, it wasn't Disney's fault.  The night before we were to disembark, I started feeling ill.  It was right around midnight (how very Cinderella of me) when it hit.  What was it?  Oh, it was an evil, evil thing called gastrointestinal virus.  Oh, that's right: the dread of all cruise ships.  Fortunately for me it didn't strike until the last night of the cruise.  If it had struck on the first or second night, I would been put into isolation for 3 days (the ship doc told me this), and the voyage would have sucked.  As it was though, it was our last night, so all was well (you know, except for the actual getting home).  I have many, many more posts to come with photos galore, but here's just a small taste.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Cruise May 10
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Another free digital slideshow by Smilebox

Friday, May 28, 2010

The hero

This is not the post I'd planned for today. I had one running through my mind about decadence and splendor and the sheer amazing perfection that is the Disney machine. Oh, those posts will come, but when I logged on, for the first time in many, many, many days I saw something buried deep among stories of securing your FB profile, photos of the oil spills and schools banning silly bandz, that was something I knew I had to make sure was seen, at least by my readers.

On May 27, 2010 (yesterday), the John W. Finn, the oldest surviving Medal of Honor winner and last of the surviving Pearl Harbor recipients died.  Chief Finn had been in the Navy for 15 years when,on the morning of December 7, 1941, when he heard gunfire coming from the Naval base and was told by a neighbor he was needed right away at the airbase.  Finn dressed and drove to the base where it was already under attack.  He manned a .50 caliber machine gun, where he fired on Japanese planes for two hours.  Chief Finn was wounded by shrapnel from the bombings and had at least 21 verifiable wounds.  If you've been on my blog for a while, you've seen the photo of him above at Pearl Harbor remembrances.  Chief Finn dropped out of school at the age of 17 to join the Navy.  On a sunny morning 15 years later he became a hero.  In 2008, in an interview just before his 100th birthday Finn said of his actions: “I never intended to be a hero. But on Dec. 7, by God, we’re in a war.” Yesterday the US, and the world, lost not just a hero, but an amazing human being.  As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, remember John Finn and all those who serve.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If you must go flat.

I'm sure by now you know by now that I like my heels. A lot. A lot, a lot. I will admit though that there are times when it's a must to wear shoes with no heel. Gasp! Shock! Shudder! I know. Sigh.

If you're going to the gym or exercising, it's obvious you need flats shoes. Sure, sure, Mariah Carey shows off her work out moves on Oprah in stilletos (I'm calling BS on that BTW), but for the average person, gym shoes are the way to go when getting your workout on. Gym shoes should, however, only be worn when working out. Please, for the love of all that is holy, don't wear them out or as your every day shoes. I hate how America has become a land of gyms shoe wearers. Ack!

If you're going on a trip where you will be walking a lot, obviously flat walking shoes are the way to go. NOT your gym shoes,but flat walking shoes. Europeans have super cute sneakers and walking shoes. I bought a few pair to take with me when we leave tomorrow on our fabulous 11 night Mediterranean cruise! I didn't tell you? It's true!!!! We fly to Barcelona tomorrow morning (we have to leave at 3:30am to get to the airport, which kind of sucks) and on Saturday we board the Disney Magic. Did you know Disney cruised Europe? Neither did we until a few months ago. We're terribly excited. We'll be leaving from Barcelona and going to Malta, Tunisia, Corsica, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome), La Spezia (Pisa), and Villafrancha (Monaco and Nice) and back to Barcelona. We're all so excited. Have a look at our ship:

Doesn't that sound fab?  Look for many awesome posts to come, including a few from Pocket Indy.

So, back to the shoes.  When you're traveling and touring, you want your shoes to be comfy, but not ugly.  Please, no Crocs.  I don't care what you say, they have no place in this world, especially when you're touring foreign countries.  They will mock you for being a tacky American.  I have a few cute walking shoes, but needed some new ones for the trip (of course).  I went to my local Deichmann's and found these:

Aren't they cute?  They're sporty and comfy and small and sleek, not huge and chunky like gym shoes.  Perfect for exploring ruins or traipsing down cobblestone streets.

If you wear white sneakers, believe me, everyone will know you're American.  Everyone.  Only Americans wear plain white sneakers.  Europeans do have white shoes, but they are not like the plain white KEDS so popular in America.  If you buy white shoes over here, they will be decorated with jazzy little designs.  The ones above aren't typical sneakers, but they give you an idea of what white casual shoes look like.  It's kind of hard to tell in this photo, but they have sparkly silver detailing in the swirls.  And they were only Euro 19,95 (about $25).  If you are going to wear white shoes on a trip though, wear them a few days before you go so they don't scream I'm new!

These were just too cute to pass up.   I probably won't be wearing them off the ship, but for the 3 days we're at sea, they'll be perfect for going to and from the pool, lounges and shows.  Here's a close up view of the details:

Nice, eh?  They called to me in the store.  AND they were Eruo 16,40 (about $20).  Can you stand it?  So adorable.  Oh, here's another important tip, especially for keeping your feet from hurting.  See these little stick on pads?  I know, adorable!  While no one will get to see their adorableness, you'll know they're there and your feet will thank you for it.

Of course you all know I'd rather be wearing something like these, but even I am smart enough to know that they're just not practical for touring.  Sigh.  Aren't they pretty though?

So, there you have it.  I'm hoping to do some blogging on the boat, look for posts from fab locales.  Until then, wear pretty shoes!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reims France-The War Rooms

Back in December, when my dad visited and we went on our 2 week whirlwind WWII trip, one of the places we visited was Reims, France. Tina, over at Pecan Corner has been blogging about WWII and asked me to post about our trip to the War Rooms.
Dwight Eisenhower had his HQ at Reims and it was here on May 7, 1945 at 2:41 am that Germany signed an unconditional surrender.  German General Alfred Jodl signed the document that effectively ended WWII.  Interestingly, Eisenhower was not in the room at the time of the signing.  When I asked my dad (who is basically a walking WWII history book) why, when he was the SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces) commander, he explained that because the Germans did not have a commander present who equaled Eisenhower in rank, it would have been considered a slap in the face to the Germans.   I personally think this is a little silly, but I know what sticklers the military is when it comes to protocol.  Still, I think it stinks that Eisenhower couldn't be there are the the moment.  The allies who signed the document were General Walter Smith (US), Ivan Susloparov (Soviets) and General Francois Sevez (France).  There were a total of 15 people around the table, including Generals, Colonels, and aides from England, the US, France, The Soviet Union and Germany and a host of others, there to witness, photograph and film this most important moment. The War Rooms have been preserved exactly as they were on that day and I'm so grateful to whomever made that decision, as it is an amazing and important piece of world history.  Here are some of our photos:

These are the keys to the War Room.

My dad explaining something to me.  Probably why Eisenhower wasn't at the signing.

Jodl signing the surrender.

This is the table where they signed.  Each chair has a plaque with the name of the person who sat in it.

 Photo of the signing.

This shows the number of captured enemy soldiers by the Allies.  I find it interesting that they used the swastika. 

The sheer number and size of maps in the room was impressive.  The maps went all the way around the room.

Mr. HH and my dad.

My dad, me and Indy on the opposite side of the room from the signing table.  Indy found all the maps fascinating.

BTW, it should be noted that Jodl was found guilty of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials and hanged in 1946.  The two men on either side of him at the signing were Wilhelm Oxenius, who died in prison in 1948 and Hans-Georg von Friedeberg, who committed suicide just a few weeks after the signing.

I hope you enjoyed a peek at this piece of history.  There was a lot more in the museum and if you ever make it to Reims, make sure to stop by.  I know the champagne caves will be calling your name, but this is well worth the time. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Meet Bob

Monday, May 3, 2010

Civic Minded

I haven't updated my homeschool blog in forever (I'm lazy like that) and think this should probably go there, but I get more readers here. Though if I weren't lazy with that blog, I'd probably get more readers, but then I'd have to update it more. It's a vicious circle. Anyway, Indy is a very civic minded kid. Actually he cares about the world. Is there a world equivalent to civic minded? If there is, let me know. The point is, he cares. A lot. Things that aren't fair or right really bother him. We used to try to shield him from the bad in the world, but he showed a real interest in what was going on, so we let him watch the news and explain things to him as simply as we can. You may remember how he felt about helping Haiti after the earthquake. I have to say I'm quite proud of him for his interest and empathy.
Last week was Earth Day and the next day I let Indy watch the Oprah Earth Day show (we get Oprah a day after it airs in the States) and he was riveted. I was a bit reluctant to let him watch the part about the Oscar winning documentary The Cove, but he wanted to and I figured I could turn it if he got too freaked out. We were both shocked and horrified by what we saw. Indy was outraged. Out. Raged. He decided to write a letter to the most powerful person he could think of: President Obama. It's a very long letter for a 7 year old. Mr. HH and I do discuss politics with Indy (as much as he can understand, anyway), but keep it pretty neural as we'd like him to form his own opinions, rather than take our political leanings. Indy liked both Obama and McCain in the elections and would have been happy with either outcome. Since Obama won, he's been a full on supporter. I'm going to type his letter for you to read. These are his own words. I wrote them on the board as he said them and then he wrote it down.

Dear Mr. President,

Hello. My name is [Indy]. I live on an Army post in Heidelberg, Germany. My mom homeschools me and let me watch the Oprah Earth Day show. America needs to recycle more! We recycle every day because it's the law and because we care about the earth. Recycling should be a law in America too!
The dolphins in Japan are being slaughtered. The dolphins didn't do anything to us so why should we kill them? The blood is infecting that waters and killing other animals in the sea. You are the most powerful person in the world. Can't you stop this?


Is this a great kid or what? 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekend Military Funnies

War is not all guns and death. Sadly, there is a lot of that, but in their down time, soldiers (sailors, airmen and marines) don't have a whole lot to do. To be fair, the military does try to give them access to TV, movies, gyms, internet and phone service (where possible), but there are still a lot of hours to fill. Mr. HH says he gets so bored in the sandbox he's afraid he'll go mad. To combat (pun totally intended) boredom, soldiers are often incredibly creative and occasionally very, very silly. Have you seen the Lady Gaga Afghanistan Remake? It's gone viral very quickly. If you haven't, please enjoy:

This one came out a few years ago, but is one of my all time favorites.

The Air Force likes to sing too:

Let's not leave out the Navy. Those deployments can be looooong (my dad can attest to this).

Aparently the Marines like Lady Gaga too:

Can you believe what they get up to?  Did you pay attention to their surroundings?  While these videos my be funny, it also gives us a glimpse of how they live.  Think you could live like that?  Think you could have such a sense of humor?

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