#1. When we arrived in the Tucson International Airport terminal waiting for our plane that we would take to Dallas Texas (our first leg of the trip to New York), we saw some good friends of ours walk up to the same gate. The Bristows. The boys played soccer with Matthew Bristow. Our families bonded over a traumatic experience at soccer practice one evening in Tucson Arizona just after the sun set. Liam and Tyler Bristow, then 2 years of age, got lost in the park. We were so worried they possibly wandered out into the desert. However they were found about 10 minutes after we realized they were gone. I found them on the playground up on the slide with their shoes off. Anyway, here is a photo of the older boys hanging out while waiting for their flight.
Matthew, Patrick, and Teddy in Tucson Airport July 2013
#2, Now I am not quite sure what the story is about this next photo, but I stumbled upon this treasure as I was searching for a few photos I took on Daniel's phone while traveling. Now this is just speculation, but if I were a betting woman I would put money on the fact that this was taken on Tom, Chad, and Daniel's golf trip. Word on the street (or Fosters Corners) is Chad and Daniel suck at golf. Granted they are 37 and 36 years old respectively and have never golfed a day in their lives. I believe the outing commenced at 10am. I asked Daniel what this was. He looked at me and scoffed, "Its a diaper box full of golf balls and beer?!" They have another golf date set for 2016.
This is how a golfing dad rolls
Now I will jump ahead to our journey to Germany. The trip was absolutely flawless. We all slept for the most part the entire journey. I had armed myself with coloring books, books to read, word search books, toy cars, trains, cards, movies, and the all important benedryl (to use in a pinch if I needed to sedate my children). However I never used any of these things because the kids fell asleep before the flight attendants even had the chance to give their safety spiel.
Patrick, Rowan & Daniel on the way to Dallas Texas
Teddy and Liam on the way to Dallas Texas
We flew into Ramstein Air Base at 1:45pm local time. It was a cool, cloudy day and it was sprinkling outside. We were all absolutely exhausted. Luckily we only had a 10 minute taxi ride to our apartment in Landstuhl. The gentleman we are renting from, Udo, was giving me the "low down" on the apartment, including the recycling which I have yet to figure out. However I could digest very little of his information because the kids were about ready to go into a meltdown (as was I). That first evening we wanted to prevent jet lag as much as possible (we are still dealing with that. The kids have not gone to bed earlier than 11pm since we got here) so after a short period of down time, we showered and went for a walk in search of ice cream cones. After traveling abroad for over 12 hours with 4 children under the age of 9, that is what you do right?! The kids were thrilled about it... so whatever works. We are still working on the jet lag. Daniel and I have yet to get to bed before midnight, and the kids are naturally getting up around 3am to start the day, then back to bed and sleeping until noon. Once we get over this hardship things will be much better!
The apartment we are temporarily staying in until we find a house to rent is wonderful. You would think a 2 bedroom apartment for 6 people would never work, but think again. Of course our children insist on sleeping in the same bedroom even at home so this is just fine with them. German engineering is so efficient! The appliances are so easy to operate and are very energy efficient. Everything is so Feng Shui. At first I was hesitant to drink the water, because the only experience I had overseas was in Naples where they deterred you from drinking local water. However the water here is quite good and safe. Safe is good. The bathroom is gorgeous with a garden tub, and beautiful stand up shower, both equipped with hand nozzles. Liam loves the buttons in the walls used to flush the toilets, and the light switches. He makes sure we have plenty of light in each room, and that the toilet always has fresh water. ;)
The kitchen of our temporary digs
The bathroom (excuse the luggage) of our temporary housing
The kids kicking back in our temporary living space
Note: Rowan uses those speakers in the corners on
stands as microphones and.... if I do say so myself...
puts on quite the performance. She made up a
song the other day with a chorus, "Its not if you
win or lose, its whether or not you had fun..oooohhh."
I noticed there is an older woman who lives across the street from us, one floor up. She smiles and waves to us from her window when we walk outside. I watched her clean her windows. When she finished, she threw the window open just a bit wider and dumped her huge bucket of dirty water right out her second story window into the street.
The outside of our temporary Landstuhl Germany apartment
We are on the bottom floor.
Daniel on the top of our street, ImserstaBe.
The base is a 10 minute car ride, however we have no means of transportation as we are still waiting for our German drivers licenses and our 2003 Chevy Suburban (which the government felt was so vital to our national security that they paid to ship it overseas) to arrive. Needless to say, we have taken the bull by the horns and delved right into local German markets. We have two grocery stores right around the corner from our apartment. One reminds me of an Aldi that we are familiar with back in the states. The other store, I am wondering if it is geared towards health foods. The produce seems to be a great quality, along with plenty of healthy choices of most anything you can imagine. On my first trip, I purchased unrefrigerated milk and eggs. I recall some time ago a friend of mine informing me that truly fresh eggs need no refrigeration. It is after they have been around a while that they require refrigeration. Milk? I have no explanation for this. However, there was no option for refrigerated milk. So... when in Rome!
I was quite hesitant to try the milk. So of course, I let the kids try it first and just didn't say anything to them. ;) I asked Teddy in the morning while he was eating his cereal how the milk was, and he said "Fine." If its good for you its good for me!
The eggs are amazing! I have seen organic eggs before but I can't believe how orange these are. I can only imagine what they feed these chickens. They are the orange-est eggs I have ever seen in my life. And they taste so creamy and wonderful. Oh delicious, wonderful, nutrient rich eggs! Where have you been all our lives?
The coffee I bought in the store? Eh.. Daniel and I think the one in particular I purchased was quite bitter. I told him the packaging could read, "Icky bitter coffee made for suckers just like you!" and I would never know any different. Of course I typically drench my coffee in my signature International Delight. Apparently Germans have not been introduced to this (what a shame), or maybe they just hide it all for themselves from Americans such as myself. Or perhaps I have yet to stumble upon the local coffee creamer store. I purchased this small little container of once again, non-refrigerated "milky substance" to put in my coffee called Kondens Milch. It had a picture of an attractive German lady adding it to her steaming hot cup of coffee. I get it home and after a little online translation I realize.. it is condensed milk. The package claims its "gut and gunstig," (good and favorable). I have a different opinion. Now if its all I have as an option, I will take it. As my mom always said, beggars can't be choosers. However it doesn't have anything on the coffee creamers I am used to.
Daniel is thrilled with the bier (beer). The bottles are much bigger. He purchased a variety 6 pack the other night and it was 6 euros, just under $8. He believes its much better quality and quantity than what you get back home. I quit drinking a year ago but I am very happy for him.
Today we took a mile walk up to Nanstein Castle which can be seen towering over most places in Landstuhl. The walk was incredible, especially for a family that loves the outdoors. We took a hiking path through the woods up to the castle. We came upon a tree stump someone had carved into the head of a hog. It was impressive work! Church bells could be heard ringing down in the town below. The birds were singing. The sky was as blue as could be without a cloud in sight. The temperature was warmer than any other day we've had here. We even broke sweats! Patrick was able to spot, capture, and identify the elusive Northern Bavarian Leaf Lizard. Okay he was just a tiny little lizard and I totally made that name up. We don't know what kind he is but he (I'm pretty sure he was male. If not she was one ugly female) is a German lizard nonetheless. Liam broke his tail off but thankfully he can grow another. We took our time checking out all the different plants, trees, and berries that grow along the path. We came upon several different benches that peered out through the trees onto the village below. The kids were so excited to tour Burg Nanstein, seemingly built into the side of the sandstone hill, even touring the bowels of a real dungeon. Here is some information on the castle I found online:
"Burg Nanstein is a castle in Landstuhl, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
It was built around the year 1162 after Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I demanded its construction as additional defense for the Palatinate.
In 1504, German knight Franz von Sickingen, inherited part of the castle after his father's death in the War of the Bavarian Succession, finally acquiring the entire castle in 1518. He immediately began extensive refortification to make the castle suitable for firearms.
Nanstein is well known for an elaborate siege during the Knights' Revolt in 1523 which claimed the life of von Sickingen. The fall of Nanstein was a symbol for the decline of castles in the Palatinate.
In 1542, von Sickingen's sons recovered Nanstein as a fief and started reconstruction of the castle. Reinhard von Sickingen completed the reconstruction in 1595. In 1668, Elector Charles I Louis forced Lotharingian troops from the castle and razed the fortifications.
In the 19th century the first conservation work was done on Nanstein, and this has continued to the present day." ~Wikipedia
After our tour, we walked back through the woods, down to the village and enjoyed an early dinner at an outdoor eatery. We tried our first authentic schnitzel, one with mushroom cream sauce, the other with a lemon sauce. It was wonderful. Teddy says he loved the schnitzel just as much as "chinese chicken" and sushi. This eatery had a great ambiance with an outdoor play area for the kids. While sitting at the table of this outdoor eatery, I looked up at the shade tree overhead and realized it is the same kind of tree we sat beneath on my mom and dad's picnic tables. After finishing our dinner, we learned how to say, "Check, please" in German, uberprufen sie bitte! : )
Patrick & Rowan in front of the hog carved stump
Teddy enjoying the view from a Castle window
The view of Landstuhl, from Burg Nanstein
Sandstone wall in the castle
Daniel & the kids at Burg Nanstein
Teddy in the dungeon
Patrick and his lizard
A walk home from the castle
Me and Patrick hanging out on a castle