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Family

I am bursting with happiness. I’ve got words spilling out of  my fingers faster than they can type.  My oldest, my golden child, my beautiful first born, Soren is here!  He arrived safe & sound & full of energy to explore the world early Sunday morning.  It has been a whirlwind ever since.

We’ve been to 1 1/2 Faschings Umzugs (Carnival parades), we’ve shopped in countless stores (that boy is a shop-a-holic just like his Oma). We’ve gotten lost in the most beautiful, treacherous part of Austria (lesson learned: read a map.  Don’t just trust your GPS).  We’ve been skiing and snowboarding (I can still do both!).  We learned that Dane has the “Rocketride” technique of skiing down pat, and it gives us all heart attacks, he points straight down & GOES until someone yells stop.  Then he crashes.  Dane would like to ski every single day please. We had dinner at our favorite Gasthaus in Garmisch (Gasthaus Fraundorfer) and completely enjoyed the warm bier, topped with whipped cream, liquors.  Dinner and dessert were equally fabulous and oh so very German.  If you are ever in the area… I highly recommend a visit.

We had two hospital visits, one in downtown Stuttgart for Dane’s yearly check-up with his “Giant” doctor (Dane’s Giant Doctor).  While Dane is still in the high normal, his “S” curve is back in his right carotid and we are still on yearly checks.  His blood flow is good, and that’s what is really important.  Our second visit was late last night, turns out Lindsay (Soren’s girlfriend) broke something in her wrist. But not her bone.  My German isn’t good enough to know what she broke, but she is in a beautiful blue cast.  What a trooper! Barely a peep out of her (though now she has been sleeping 14+ hours).

On our last day we journeyed up to the top of the Mount Osterfeldkopf to brave the views from the Alpspix.  Despite being made of strong metal beams, imbedded in hard rock, venturing out on the platform 1,000 meters above the valley is an adrenaline rush I’d rather skip.  But I did it. For the view.  For the photo’s. For my kids, so they learn not to fear.

Still, Dane did fear it very much.  Getting him to the very end took lots of coaxing and gummy bears.  And a big promise to stay crouched down, so there was zero chance of falling overboard.  I love my kids.

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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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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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Tante Marianne

by Toiny Westberry 19 March 2014
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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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