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Adventures in Germany

I have taken no new pictures since my peek into the mysterious world of the Narrenzunft (Narrenzunft) on Tuesday.  My world has been filled with little tasks that take ages to complete.

Most critically, our home phone doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked since the “big” upgrade on December 22.  I am most unhappy and my cable company is most unhelpful.  Today I received an email that they were “unable to reach me by phone to fix this problem”.  Um.  Really?

All three of our big boys have big going-ons in their lives right now, thank God for Skype & messenger so I can still talk to them and hold their hands and walk them through these changes.  Not that Christian will let me.  All I get is “No info” every single time I try to figure out where the Marines are sending him.  And when.  And for how long.  I even tried bribing him with boxes of German candy.  No info.  I hate deployments.

Nicholas, on the other hand, is finally making big strides to become a grown-up.  He’s a little late to blossom, but the realization has hit that he is an adult.  And it’s scary.  Luckily he’s got his brothers, his grandparents, and us to be there every step of the way.  I have fingers & toes crossed that he stays on this grown-up path (and half a Cathedral full of candles lit, it can’t hurt).

But the biggest news, my favoritest news, Soren is coming to Germany!  I get him for two whole weeks in February.  Him, and the new girlfriend Lindsay, and MY BABY SISTER!  Soren bought my beautiful baby sister a ticket to come to Germany to see me.  I’m not sure who cried more, me or Manon.  This is the best gift he could’ve given me. It’s been three years since Soren’s college graduation. Three years since I’ve seen her.  I am SO EXCITED!


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Yesterday I got a look behind the scenes of our local Narrenzunft (Fools Guild).  Every Fasching, or Carnival, I’ve been awed by the amazing costumes and masks, and highly entertained by the insane craziness of the parades (Fasching 2013;Fasching = Carnival;Fat Tuesday).  It has been my dream to learn more. Yesterday I learned more.

As we integrate more into our town, I notice more things that peek my curiosity. Lately, really since fall, I noticed more & more people wearing warm, cuddly hoodies with neon green “Narrenzuft Muteheer” stitched on the back.  I wanted one.  They were from our town & they were cool.

Turns out I can’t have one (don’t worry, I’m working on it!).  However.  I did get an invitation to last nights initiation of the new active members.  Passive members can participate in the parades, usually in normal clothing holding “our” Narrenzunft standard.  Active members, however, must go through an intense and hilarious hazing.

First years are given a costume to wear.  Our new first years were in Frog, Cow (milka cow!), and Racoon onsies.  Oh! And a psychedelic 70’s suit. My eyes are still burning.  Every year the hazing & requirements are a little different.  This year the newbies must wear rose crowns (and only one is a woman, much to their dismay), and throw rose petals.  The catch being that they have 1,000 rose petals but after Fasching (on Ash Wednesday) they must turn in 1,001.  They are also in charge of rolling out the red carpet for all active members & loudly announcing their arrival.  Germans are not naturally loud and outgoing.

After the initiation, the second year was given her new Hexen costume.  She will get her own, amazing, fabulous, hand-carved mask next year.  There was some hazing & drinking of magic potion.  The details are slightly vague to me but there was lots of loud cheering and laughing.

Finally the masks for the new full members were handed out. I drooled (just a little).  These masks are works of art.  Hand-carved, the tradition passed down within families. After, we drank glühwein (and I bought some little bottles of the home-made alcohols to take home) and I got to know more of the members.  I even managed to finagle an invitation to the local Narrenbäll next week!

Our local Narrenzuft has only been around since the beginning of last century, it was to separate from the Rhein Carnival celebrations and become it’s own south German tradition.  While it revolves around the religious holidays of Three Kings (official start of Fasching and the parades), through the last big celebration on Fat Tuesday (the last day of Fasching, with Ash Wednesday the next day), it is not considered a religious celebration.

It is more based on the much older practices (there are cave drawings dating back 15,000 to 10,000 BC) of warding off evil spirits.  Plus, it is always fun dressing up! Check me out trying out a Geister (ghost) mask last night!  Note the hair is real horsehair, I have a marten pelt on my head (it’s eyes glow brilliant green) and the owner put a lot of time & effort into customizing it after the carving was complete.


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Football. Is. Over. Hallelujah! My boy is sad. He absolutely loved being on a team. He loved playing every day. He loved games. He worked hard & became an amazing football player in a few short months. Look, I have proof! At his last game he always had two, even three, guys on him (that’s him, #69, in the black/white/gold). That’s what a threat he became on the football field.

At home he became gentler, a bigger helper and more of a man. All I want is for him to stop that! Stop getting bigger. Stop growing-up. Stay my sweet little boy, stay home. Don’t leave.

Every year for Christmas my mother would start off the feeding frenzy with cream cheese smothered in red & green jalapeno jellies. It was one of my favorite traditions, and one I carried over to my kids. Until Germany.

In Germany I could not find jalapeno jelly. I searched high, low, in local stores, in the commissary, in every country we drove through. No jalapeno jelly. For five years we have been jalapeno jelly-less. Until yesterday.

Last week, while quilting up a storm of Christmas presents with my beautiful friend Sarah, we discussed Thanksgiving menu’s. And I professed my deep sadness at no jalapeno jelly. Sarah thinks I’m great. She thinks I can do anything. She just looked at me quizically and said:

“Why aren’t you making your own? You make every other kind of jelly.” This is true! I do jelly! It is sooooooooo easy here in Germany. You buy a baggy of this magic stuff (I believe it’s sugar & gelatin mix, but what do I really know?), boil your fruit on the stove, toss in the magic stuff, boil 4 minutes more, ladel into jars. Jelly!

So yesterday I boiled my peppers (bell peppers & jalapeno peppers), with a little apple cider for juice, tossed in a baggy of the magic stuff and… JALAPENO JELLY PEOPLE!

I almost burst with anticipation waiting for Dave & Cole to come home and try my jalapeno jelly. Cole came in first, all puppy dog sad, it was the very first day with no football whatsoever, saw the jelly on the counter, tried it, and lit up like a Christmas tree:

“Mom! You did it! This is soooooooo awesome! Teach me! Teach me! I gotta make this for my kids!”

See? That beautiful, big, ray of sunshine has to stop growing up & stay little.

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Fall Picture Day 2014

by Toiny Westberry 22 October 2014
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I have found my camera battery (Hot & Smokey)!  Thank you for all the kind notes of understanding & suggestions for places to look.  One of you may very well have been right, but Dave found it. Not me.  I have no idea where & he’s not telling. As soon as my girl friend heard […]

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Injuries & Football

by Toiny Westberry 13 October 2014
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Football (Football Mom, Friday Night Lights, Football is a way of Life).  Football is taking up all my free time. The request for volunteers pour in on a daily basis. I had NO idea anything could be more intense than being a soccer mom.  Now I know. The awesome part, well parts, is that we […]

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Football Mom

by Toiny Westberry 4 October 2014
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I had to give up Oktober Fest last night because there are only so many hours in a day.  Right now I am spending 25 of those hours sleeping, eating, working and being mom. I am plain, ol’ mom, guitar mom, pingpong mom, swim mom, after-school-random-sports mom, Soccer Mom and now football mom.  Football mom […]

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Friday Night Lights

by Toiny Westberry 13 September 2014
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Last night Cole had his first game under the Friday Night Lights.  Football is not big here in Germany, soccer, oh yes, but football?  That’s a whole other story. The most important part of the story is that only “our” high schools have teams.  That means a lot of travel time for our teams as […]

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Football is a way of Life

by Toiny Westberry 10 September 2014
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Way back in the dark ages, I was a high school cheerleader.  Back then I loved football! I loved the smell of fresh grass, the energy of the crowd, hot dogs, cheering. I loved night games under the bright lights, those are almost magical. I loved football. As the years passed, and we left California […]

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The Most Gold Hair

by Toiny Westberry 16 August 2014
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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 […]

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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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