Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'd like to go home now

Excuse me, Uncle Sam. I'd like to go home now.

If the two houses I own in Virginia insist on falling apart, I'd like to be the one swinging the hammer. I'm being drained in more ways than one because I have to pay people to do things I'm capable of doing. Then I have to pay someone to watch (supervise) them do it. And I have to pay them on their schedule, not mine.

If my husband insists on taking so many random trips that planning a vacation is pointless because it would be cancelled, I'd like to be near enough to friends and family that I could make due without him. If I'm going to be forced to sit on my couch all day for lack of funds and places to go, I'd rather sit on my couch in a place where the weather is consistently nice, predictable, and doesn't have me taking vitamin D in the spring to prevent a depressive tail spin.

I'm tired of being surrounded by people who can't take a hint when I tell them I don't want to hear about their vacation plans to Italy, Normandy, Ireland, Croatia, France, Greece, England, or any other place I'm never going to see. I've been here a year, and have barely taken more than a few day trips. If you wake up and go to sleep in your own bed, it's not a vacation no matter what you saw that day. Yes, I've seen a few Castles, but Colonial Williamsburg is older and has more history than any of them, as they were all built in the late 1800's. Again, I could do that at home.

I hate myself because I'm starting to resent my daughter. My 2 1/2 year old is often the only human contact I have for days on end. Facebook and awkward phone conversations aren't the same. Calling home is difficult in any case, because of the time difference. I've tried involving myself in the community, taking language classes, playing soccer, and connecting with the other wives, but none of it has helped. It's either too short lived, or too costly.

Imagine if Walmart were the only place you could go to do ANYTHING. And not the new, big, Super-Walmarts, I'm talking the tiny, dirty, old ones. That Walmart is the only option you have for shopping, meeting people, or just getting out of the house. You don't even have a Rite-Aid option here. Also imagine it's the only place you can hear people speaking English. Imagine you only have one real friend, and the only thing you do together is go to Walmart. Imagine your husband is never in the same country you are, let alone at home, and you're scared to visit anywhere but Walmart without him. That's my life. That's the grand adventure.

I can't stand Germany any more, and I want to go home. I will trade places with anyone there, happily.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Join the Navy and See the World... or Not

Lichtenstein Castle

Welcome to the April update of the ongoing Battle of the Hills. We're taking on Germany... but not much else. More on that later. So Without further ado, here's the rundown of past, present, and even some future happenings.

As you may have read in my recent post, that wasn't really a real post, Jeff had been gone for a full month. His travels took him to three different countries, including a week in the States. Luckily, he returned in time for Easter. Easter is a big deal here, as Germany is predominately Catholic, so everything completely shuts down. This week is spring break for both the German schools and the DOD (Department of Defense) schools. Germans are hitching up their 25 foot trailers to their little Fiats and clogging roadways, and most Americans have fled the country for more exciting destinations.

For us, Easter meant a small gathering of friends on Friday, and a quiet family dinner on Sunday. Friday we met at our friends Dan and Ivy's house for a cookout and a massive Easter egg hunt. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea to put the men in charge of hiding the 150+ plastic eggs. I stepped outside and was met with grown men throwing eggs at each other. They also thought it would be amusing to hide eggs on top of cars and in places I could barely reach, let alone a 2 or 6 year old. That egg hunt went on for a while. I did get a chance to show off a little culinary creativity though, and my beautiful works of food art were a hit.

Easter morning we dug into our baskets quickly, and Ginny, Jeff, and the puppies enjoyed their treats thoroughly. I woke up with an extremely sore throat that morning, so I mostly just had tea. But still, it's always fun to see the work I put into the baskets making them so happy. Later on that day, Jeff and I stuffed more plastic eggs, and let Ginny have her very own egg hunt in the front yard. She absolutely loves hunting eggs. And now, thanks to a little blue bunny, I now know all the words to Peter Cottontail. (I'd like to thank the person responsible for that... yeah, you know who you are.)

On Tuesday the weather was beautiful, so we took an afternoon trip to Lichtenstein Castle. The castle is now open for visitors, so we had a much better experience this time. We packed a picnic lunch and ate at a playground near the ropes course. Yes ropes course. Outside the castle is a giant ropes course that looks completely awesome and I'm dying to try it out. But that will have to wait for another day. After lunch, we ventured inside the castle walls for some great photos of the fortress that seems to cling to the side of the cliffs. Our tour was in German, but we got a nice little handout written in English that described what we were seeing as we passed through the rooms. Our tour guide was also nice enough to occasionally repeat a few things in English that weren't on our sheet. The whole day was very enjoyable, and it's definitely a destination we'll share with any who choose to come out for a visit!

Speaking of visits, we have news in the way of our Stateside travels. We had originally been planning a trip to Texas for the Michigan vs. Alabama game at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in September. However, Jeffrey has a very large exercise taking place during that time period, and he won't be permitted to travel at that time. We've briefly discussed going home for Christmas, but we're unsure of which part(s) of the country that would involve. In a few weeks, Ginny and I will be flying into BWI and then we'll make our way to PA for 10 days. I may have to extend our trip to head to VA to take care of some property issues as well, but that hasn't been decided.

We knew moving to Germany would involve some struggles, but sometimes you just can't anticipate everything. We recently had to evict one of our tenants, and the following necessary repairs and remodeling has kept us stressed and financially strained. Add that to Jeff's busy work schedule, and we can't find much time to travel. Hopefully once we get a new tenant and Jeff has a more clearly defined summer schedule, things will shake out. Until then, we're being held to local day trips instead of the grand European tour we had envisioned while packing for the move. Reality sucks sometimes.

(Sorry, had to vent. Besides, couldn't really call this the Battle of the Hills if it was all fun and tulips)

Well to end this on a lighter note, I thought I'd share a photo that clearly depicts my nightly struggle. I am confronted with this situation every night... maybe you are too. =)

So, um... where am I supposed to sleep?

Monday, April 9, 2012

This is not a real post... but I'm still alive (barely)

So, most of you know that Jeff was gone all of last month. When Jeff is gone, I don't go anywhere. This is no lie, I put gas in our car the day he left, and there was still gas left from the same fill-up when he got home. He was gone for 30 days y'all, and he still drove the car for almost two days before needing to fill up. That's why I've posted nothing for over a month.

There is an I-told-you-so story to be told now that he's home, but believe me when I say I take no joy in it. Jeff always gets sick when he travels. Always. And then he gets ME sick. We started a vitamin regimen after he brought the black death home from Poland, and neither of us has been sick. While packing for this last trip, I "suggested" he take his vitamins with him. Didn't happen. 30 days and one week later, guess who spent Easter with a vice wrapped around her throat. This chick! Thank you, my dear husband.

Well, if I get over this by tomorrow, we might go visit a walled city, which may result in a real post. Tomorrow will be the only nice day for the forseable future. March was sunny and warm and beautiful, and it ended the day Jeff got home. Jeff put Norway in his suitcase and customs didn't catch it. He's got such a talent for picking out gifts from is travels. Sigh.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my wonderful M.I.L. She's 35 today ;)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yes, I'm aware I suck at this...

Happy February everyone!!!

I know! I can tell you're just shocked that I haven't posted on here at all this month. Someone as organized as I am surely has it all together more than this!

HAHAHAHAHAHA (<--- Me laughing at you if you really believe that).

Weelll, this month has been slightly dull, but none the less full of things to talk about. Maybe that's why I put off posting, things sound more interesting when grouped together. The problem is that after a month passes, I usually forget things that I might have talked about. This results in me trying to recall things that happened, and then trying to make them blogworthy. That results in a headache. I need a Coke.

Oh wait though! I can't have one! Stupid diets. Yes, I am on a diet. An actual, honest to god, world famous diet called "Weight Watchers" (online). My life has become centered around Points! Being the sports nut I am, you would think that points would be something I could work with. You know, touchdown! Whoever has the most points wins! Nope, not so much. It's more like golf, where the lower your score the better.

I hate golf.

But, alas, here I am counting how many ounces of Coke I can drink in a day, how many bites of rice will fit into my range, and cursing the fact that someone! (Sarah) convinced me to start this on the week of Valentines day. I have a heart shaped box of Ghirardelli chocolate squares just begging to be shoved down my throat. And a husband who likes to eat Reeses Peanut Butter Cups right next to me while I suck down my fat free, sugar free Jell-O. This may be the first time in history I'm looking forward to him leaving.

Jeff will be jetsetting for the next few weeks to countries that don't exactly enter normal people's dream travel itineraries. And by next few weeks, I mean possibly til the beginning of May without a single day home. What I'm going to to by myself in Germany that long I'm still not sure.

The weather here is seriously unpredictable. For a few weeks we had absolutely bone chilling temperatures in the single digits, and all of a sudden it's back up in the 40's. I won't complain about the 40's ever again.  That's a Virginia Beach winter, and I'll take it happily. We have snow at random intervals, and sometimes it looks like those tiny round styrofoam pelets that stick to everything. I've seen a lot of snow, but that was a first for me. I'll have to remember to get a picture next time.

Our social calendar has slowed recently, though we did have our friends over for dinner a few weeks ago. This Saturday we're holding a Texas Hold'em Poker party, with about 12 people, so that should be a good time. Valentine's Day for us was pretty good though. We celebrated on Friday becasue Jeff was taking his online German course on Tuesday. We got a sitter and headed into downtown Stuttgart for dinner, and Jeff got me a very beautiful pair of diamond earrings. I surprised Jeff by renting him a BMW X-5 for the long weekend, and he got to have a good time driving that around. I missed the actual surprise though, because he decided he was going to go to the garage to look for his phone without asking me were it was. He ALWAYS asks me where his stuff is, but not THIS time. His phone was sitting next to me in the bathroom as I was getting ready, and next thing I know he's asking where our CAR is. Go figure.

Saturday we headed into Strasbourg, France for a very large wine fest for independant wineries. We had a bit of an issue once we got there because we realized we forgot the diaper bag at home. Eventually we found a little supermarket and I had to run in to get diapers and wipes. While I was standing in line though, I realized that French is a much more pleasant language than German to have swirling around you when you don't understand a word of whats being said. French sounds so friendly, where as German makes you feel like you're about to be arrested or something. We did eventually make it back to the fest though, and it was pretty cool. Over 700 wineries lined a building so big you could fit 3 football fields in it side by side. Jeff may have enjoyed the 18 inch sandwich made of French bread stuffed with fresh, gooey Brie the most.

Well, that about covers it. For the contest winners, I want you to know I haven't forgotten you. I have 7 packages waiting to be mailed for various reasons, I just can't ever make it to the Post Office when it's open.

Until next week! (I mean month (I mean year ( I mean you'll know when I know)))!

Friday, January 27, 2012

And the winner is....

Wow, I had a lot of submissions through 5 different media outlets! You guys are great and I'm so happy you are following! I had some trouble figuring out who submitted first because I went to bed right after I posted, and the time stamps on your replies were from different time zones. But, I got it straightened out!

So, without further ado, the winners are as follows...


My cousin, Carrie Adamosky! Her reply via Facebook at 10:55pm MY time was:

1.trigger and gauge 2.aryn 3. 11/1/08 4.4 months in and iam still new at this. 5. 4 castles
i absoulutly love following your adventure...Thank you for sharing with us..

But, because I had so many replies (y'all put me up over 200 views!) I am giving out a second and 3rd place prize...

In 2nd, with the only post on the actual blog (probably the only one who knew you could reply to a blog) is...

My BFF Trisha Eaton! Her reply via blog at 12:25am MY time was:

1). What are the names of our two dogs? Trigger and Chipper's Trusty Twelve Gauge (Gauge)
2). What is Ginny's middle name? Aryn
3). What is mine and Jeff's wedding anniversary? November 1, 2008
4). What was the title of my first post on this blog? 4 months in and I'm still new at this
5). How many castles have we visited in Germany? two castles in the Swabian Albs, Neuschwanstein Castle, castle in Heidelberg (4 total)

In 3rd, with a very competitive e-mail, is...

My grandma Brenda Martin! Her reply via e-mail at 2:49am was:

1. Trigger and Gauge
2. Virginia Aryn Hill, 09/10/2009
3. 11/01/2008
4. 4 months in and I'm still new at this
5. I know you went to 4 castles, BUT my answer to question is 3; because at Lichtenstein the castle was closed and you could only walk on grounds, so you didn't officially tour the castle there yet. :)

So there you have it folks! Carrie will receive a well stocked box of goodies, and Trisha and grandma will receive their choice of chocolates or other candies (i.e. Gummies)!!!

Thank you guys for reading! That view count keeps me writing, and I'm definitely inspired to keep at it!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This post isn't really an update, but I'm going to make you read it anyway...

Sometimes so few things happen during my week, that you don't need a recap because the interesting things get put on Facebook anyway.

Buuuut because I feel the need to fill up space you get a quicky recap anyway...

Ginny is still missing her voice, and it's still adorable because she's not sick in any other way. She still does the bouncy two year old thing, but her words disappear somewhere between her throat and lips when she gets too excited, and all I hear is high pitched air. I continue my search for a cause.

I bought a rug on our local yard sale website, and I was so excited because it was still available when I inquired about it. That doesn't happen to me much. I think the puppies may like it even better than I do.

I have been helping out a friend's mom this week. She is here to watch said friend's kids while she and her hubby are skiing (along with the rest of the command). I learned something new for my future visiting relatives. She got an ID card issued that let's her get on base without having to sign in every time. It has her picture on it and every thing. All the visiting family member needs is their passport and flight itinerary w/ tickets. Very cool thing to know.

So anyways, since this isn't a very exciting post, I've decided to jazz it up with...

A German Goodie Giveaway!!! 

That's right, the first lucky person who can correctly answer all of the following questions will receive a goodie box full of delectable German treats! The picture above is just for emphasis and example, but will look similar to the prize package. I will announce the winner on this blog Friday at 2pm EST. I will NOT post an update to Facebook to remind you, so you should probably sign up to receive this blog via e-mail at the very bottom of the page (Follow by e-mail).

P.S. This is for friends and family back home, my Germany friends can get their own candy. =D

Let the games begin!

1). What are the names of our two dogs?
2). What is Ginny's middle name?
3). What is mine and Jeff's wedding anniversary?
4). What was the title of my first post on this blog?
5). How many castles have we visited in Germany?

All answers can be found either somewhere in my blog or on my Facebook page. I was going to make it harder, but I'll just save some questions in case we need a tie breaker.

Get to it! There's chocolatey goodness at stake!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday's (Bi)Weekly Update: Of Road Trips and Other Randomness

Hohenzollern Castle

Welcome back to my readers, one and all. If I knew how to say that in Russian, I would. Apparently 40 of my page views on this blog have been from Russia.... I. Don't. Know. Why.

Such are the wonders of the world wide web.

I really am trying to get into the habit of posting things regularly. My last two posts were pretty much just a verbal time line splattered on the page. Sometimes it's either that or a drab minute by minute of the monotony that is my every day life. Some interesting stuff happened in the past few weeks so I get to do more than just a short recap of my grocery shopping.

Ginny has become a true parrot... I honestly want to try to get her to say "Ginny wanna cracker." As a kid I cracked up during "Meet the Fockers" while the little kid spent the whole movie going "Asss-hooole." It's not so funny any more, because my daughter has become that kid. Well, that's a lie. It is still funny, but I'm not allowed to let her know that. She repeats things we say, even we aren't talking to her. Sadly, we need to work on our use of "shut up." A knee jerk reaction to our dogs barking has become a constant battle.

I'm about over potty training too. My mom swears one day she'll wake up and get it, but that day hasn't happened yet. I am showing more patience than I ever thought I could, but I'm still pretty frustrated. Part of this stems from the fact that she picks up everything else soooo easily. Walking, talking, kicking, jumping... she's an early bird. So many people have said that she's so advanced compared to other kids her age, that the potty training thing is sort of embarrassing. I feel like we're not doing something right.

Wow, so somehow that turned out more of venting session than I meant it too. Sorry. Moving on...

The puppies have been giving me a run for my money as well. Last week Trigger ended up at the German vet for a stomach infection, Gauge was nearly right behind him. Both are fine now, and I was relieved to discover German veterinary care is 10 times better than people care (I'll never step foot in another German hospital) and it's five times cheaper than vet care in the states. An (same day) emergency visit to a new vet, with two shots, and two days worth of two different medications only cost me €40 (about $50-55). Not bad!

This past weekend was a four day weekend for us. I didn't figure out until Sunday that it was MLK day, I honestly thought it was either Presidents Day or another random German holiday. Despite my ignorance, we managed to have a pretty good weekend.

On Saturday we drove up to Ramstein AFB for the first time. Ramstein is home to the largest Exchange (military department store) ever! It was the equivalent of a suburban shopping mall. It has restaurants (we enjoyed lunch at the Macaroni Grill), a furniture store, pottery store, movie theater, and even a Harley Davidson dealer! To all those back home going "So what? She hasn't seen a mall before?" The answer would be no... not since June of last year! We spent the day eating and shopping and scoring some good deals on clothes for Ginny. We also picked up a rug for downstairs, that I am seriously way too happy to have.

Sunday means everything is closed here. Essentially no fun takes place. To fill the gap in our weekend, we search the web and find random things like a German Toilet Exposé. Completely funny, completely true. Welcome to the battle we face in Germany!

Monday, however, was a very fun-filled day. We tackled two castles in the Swabian Albs here in Germany. Our first stop was Hohenzollern Castle, and it was awesome! Out of the four we've seen, it's my new favorite. I could have done without the 30 minute walk straight up a mountain, but it was worth it. The entrance of the castle has you walking up a winding portico, going through tunnels and over drawbridges. It felt so marvelously mid-evil. The tour was as good as any other, but I could have walked the grounds all day.

Our next stop was to nearby Lichtenstein Castle. To our dismay, we found it closed to visitors in January, but we were able to walk around for a more than decent view. We also discovered a very cool looking ropes course that I will return to tackle. When it's warmer than 25 degrees out. Which I hope is sooner rather than later.

P.S. In case you haven't noticed, I've decided to try my hand at short stories. ^ This mess is why I don't do Twitter. I couldn't possibly contain myself to 140 characters.