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Personal Notes

I have decided I am now 90% German.  Living here for five years, it’s just seeped into my being. I blame osmosis.  We finally went on vacation-vacation last week.  For one week.  I totally get why Germans take such long vacations (Germans have on average 34 paid vacation days).  It took me till Sunday to really feel relaxed.

Because I needed a new passport.  Because Schiphol (airport by Amsterdam) offered the quickest turnaround.  We went to Holland again.  This time up to North Holland, at the north end of the small island of Texel.  There was some protest that it was Holland again.  There was some protest that there were boats involved, the only way to get onto Texel.  I was stubborn. We went. And while there is no passport, we had a fabulous family-bonding week.

I have more memories I love than I can fit in this space.  Since I am sharing our family photo, I am also sharing that memory.  One of my goals was to take lots & lots of photo’s. Not just of us, but also of my beautiful country.  Lighthouses, animals, countryside, sunsets.  Dave had gifted me my first tripod & I was beyond excited to try it out!

Our third day, late in the day, we finally had some time to go take my new toy for a test drive.  We drove the couple of kilometers to the lighthouse and excitedly pushed our way out of the van & to the beach. I couldn’t wait to get some stunning sunset shots!

Um.  The beach. Was. Long.  Wide?  The sand went on for miles. Not just to my left & right, but straight ahead to the ocean.  We had parked just over the dunes, and when we crossed the last one to finally see the ocean, we all stopped in our tracks.  Low tide on Texel is not the same as low tide in California.  The end of the sand, and the beginning of the sea, was literally on the horizon.

At first we slowly walked towards the ocean, me stopping occasionally for photo’s, the kids stopping frequently for shells.  As it slowly dawned on me that we weren’t really getting an closer, that the beach was not meters wide, but kilometers wide, we sped up our pace.  Now I was getting anxious I’d miss the sunset!  Out of breath, with the sun touching the water, we finally reached the edge a good 45 minutes after leaving the van.

I quickly set up my tripod, bossed my family into group photo position, and then ran to get in the shot!  I need a remote. It is on my list for my birthday next month.

27AUG14

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My packages to Christian have been taking forever to reach him.  Poor kid is going to think I don’t love him.  That is the last thing he needs.  Afghanistan is no picnic, and it’s been hard for him.

Yesterday I drove all the way to Kelly, the furthest local base from me, to mail him some much needed moleskin for his torn-apart feet.  And toothbrushes.  Apparently toothbrushes are in high demand to clean the sand out of radios & weapons.  Who knew?

I went to Kelly because our mail services have been drastically cut, and it was the only post office open. I really wanted to get Christian his much-needed supplies as soon as possible.  I must’ve said something to the mailguy, I don’t remember what, because he took a look at me, leafed through some forms, and then said;

“I got an idea.” His idea turned out to be to bypass the guys in Moron, Spain (real place!) and send Christian’s packages directly to Kandahar.  Because. Standing right next to him was a big, old, white bag tagged “Kandahar”.  Now, he made no promises as to what will happen after the mailbag got into Kandahar. It might not get on the next plane, or truck, or camel out to Christian but Kandahar is a lot closer than Spain.  I’ll take it!  That guy is my new favorite guy.

On the way back home we got caught up in a stau (traffic jam), umleitung (detour) and a massive downpour.  It made a long drive already longer.  Dane started getting a little restless, so Cole tried to amuse him. I only listened with half-an-ear, my thoughts were filled with Christian and my concentration was on the road, but it seems that Cole was having Dane polish his gold hairs.  Kids.

Later, I found Dane in the bathroom brushing his hair, a big grin on his face:

“I have the most gold hair of anyone! I bet it’s worth $100!”16AUG14

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My kids, like many kids, love to dress-up and pretend. When the big boys were little (now 22, 23 & 24), dress-up was fine by me… at home.  Out in public I insisted they wear normal clothes like jean, shorts, t-shirts.  If they were lucky t-shirts with Scooby-Doo or Superman.  If they were lucky. I was a mean mom back then.

When Dino came along, I was a seasoned mom.  I knew happy kids = happy mom. I learned to pick my battles.  While normal clothes are still required for church, school and dinners out, it’s pretty much anything-goes on our daily routine.  Dane has reveled in manifesting his active imagination through dress-up.

These days I’m frequently escorting Harry Potter through the grocery store, our town or really just about anywhere we go.  Earlier this week his much-desired wand came in from China.  Silly me took a picture almost immediately.  Hours after this photo Harry’s scar made its first appearance (reminiscent of Dane’s The Last Airbender phase).  I’m only waiting for Harry’s robes to come in from China as well, then I’ll take a new photo.

13AUG14

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Night Owls

by Toiny Westberry 1 August 2014

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned, but Cole is in American High School on base.  We pulled him out of German school when he started his freshman year.  Life is filled with enough challenges being a military brat. We wanted to give him as an easy-as-possible opportunity to complete all the right credits for college. Having […]

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The Amazing, Invisible, Sheep!

by Toiny Westberry 23 July 2014
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A couple of weeks (months?) ago I read, on the front page of our local paper, that the Schäferbier was brewed, bottled & ready for the Schäferlauf.  Now, Schäfer = sheep.  Bier is obvious & lauf = walk.  I quickly deduced that the sheep beer was ready for the sheep walk, but what was a […]

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My Fancy Futuristic Car

by Toiny Westberry 24 May 2014

Ever have a week, really a month, where everything goes wrong?  Yep.  That was me the last several weeks.  Thankfully it was not people-wrong, but mechanical-wrong. It started with the The Big, Red, Intimating, not-out-of-order Machine, it went out-of-order. Our hot water supply went to nil, our showers came to an end and the house […]

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Going Full American

by Toiny Westberry 17 May 2014

I know the photo is a little soft, but it is my favorite of Dane on his birthday this week.  It is just so him.  He finally, at age 7, has his first wiggly tooth and in this photo you can still see the precious baby teeth peeking out. His hair is poking out in […]

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Squeal-y, Hug-y and Happy

by Toiny Westberry 26 April 2014
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If you ask Tess what was the best part of our whirlwind trip back to the states; the answer is one word: “Becca!” The dynamic duo was reunited and their unbridled joy at seeing each other had all of us, at least us mommies, in tears.  I could feel waves of warm happiness radiating out from them. The air literally quivered […]

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Tante Marianne

by Toiny Westberry 19 March 2014

There is sunshine and light and laughter in every one of my days.  Even my dark days.  On the days when life has me down, things are not going my way, when I just need to cry. There are always my kids (and sometimes other peoples kids) and they always manage to put a smile […]

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No Shoes. No Soccer.

by Toiny Westberry 14 February 2014
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Yesterday was not poor Dane’s day.  All week long he looks forward to Tuesdays.  Soccer day.  The hours between school and soccer practice are almost unbearable, the boy has no concept of time.  Timers, clocks, stickers-on-clocks, nothing works.  He must ask me every 1-to-5 minutes; “Is it time?” “Can we go now?” “How much longer?”  […]

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