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Family

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!

manonentess

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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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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 sheep walk?  And why was this beer special?

I spent the next hour reading the full article, coming away none the wiser.  My German comprehension is not quite at newspaper-level.  Not even local paper-level.  So I asked around, and my best understanding was that this village has sheep, once a year they march them down the street, and then they celebrate said-marching with a special once-a-year beer.  I was hooked, and I marked it on my calendar.

When my cousin called and wanted to visit, right on Schäferlauf weekend, I panicked briefly.  My cousin is 7 months pregnant, Schäferbier cannot be too high on her list of things to try.  Thankfully she also has a 1-year-old daughter.  Sheep rank very high on her list of things to try.  It took five minutes to decide on her trip, and then three weeks of waiting for them to get here.

Waiting for something fun to happen always takes soooooooooooo long, but now last weekend is already over and my cousin, aunt and the baby are back in Holland.  I miss them.  We had a fabulous weekend filled with hysterical laughing, sharing memories, a little beer and zero sheep.

That’s right.  Schäferlauf weekend was without sheep.  It was not a lack of trying on our part, we drove out to Wildberg not once, but twice!  Wildberg is gorgeous.  Nestle in a lush, green valley on the Nagold river in the middle of the Schwarzwald, Wildberg is filled with charm, fachwerk houses, a stunning kloster, friendly people… but no sheep.

We saw cows, horses, donkeys, all kinds of birds, ducks, deer, camels, zebra’s (baby zebra!) but no sheep. In the end, the invisible sheep really didn’t matter. Now all my aunt or cousin has to say is “Schaap!” (Dutch for sheep) and we are all doubled over in laughter.

Only I cannot find sheep at a sheep festival.

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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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Inside out Underwear

by Toiny Westberry 1 January 2014

I am so tired I put my underwear on inside out this morning.  I am thanking my lucky stars this morning that my mother is still here, and so dreading Friday. Friday needs to stop racing my way. I struggled with insomnia all weekend.  By the third night, I was getting panick-y (soooooooo not helpful), why wasn’t I sleeping?  […]

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Today I hate the Military

by Toiny Westberry 4 December 2013
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This morning, at 2:00 am, I stood on my quiet, dark street enshrouded in a heavy layer of fog.  I watched our best friends load up the rental car, program the GPS and drive away till the tail lights faded from view.  That was it.  It’s over.  Three years of friendship, laughter, tears, inside jokes […]

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One of those phone calls

by Toiny Westberry 24 July 2013
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As you open this newsletter, I’m in my VW bus driving my dad to France.  I know, I know, poor me.  But I’m dreading it all the same.  This past week has been such an incredible whirlwind, I think life always is, but this week has been extra whirlwind-y. It started with one of those phone […]

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Fire is Scary

by Toiny Westberry 29 May 2013
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Quick disclaimer, that is not our van, it is not us, and everyone got out without harm or injury.  Looking at the photo now, it is hard to tell that was a full-size (albeit a smaller one) RV (recreational vehicle or camper).  On Monday all the kids, and even Dave, had the day off & […]

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Drowning Pool

by Toiny Westberry 15 May 2013
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  It has been craziness over here.  Craziness that finally ended around midnight last night when we got home from our last night at fest (Frühlingsfest).  We had a big change-of-command here at the Stuttgart Garrison. That requires the official pomp & circumstance ceremonies, as well as the unofficial meet & greets.  I’ve smiled, made […]

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Socks Are a Really Good Idea

by Toiny Westberry 24 April 2013
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Remember how last week was not my week?  This week is already 1,000% better.  Except.  Well.  I goofed.  Big time. Last week was so hectic, the racing around between home, schools, hospital and our on-post vehicle registration kept me hopping.  I had little to no time to drag out my beloved camera and take pictures.  […]

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